Mayor Wheeler announces second phase of citywide lighting plan

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 9:39 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - On Wednesday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced his office’s plan to add more lighting to sidewalks and storefronts in the city is in its second phase.

“This lighting plan is a win-win for Portland, particularly during the dark months of winter, as we work to activate, clean up and light the city,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler in a press release. “Improved lighting on sidewalks and storefronts increases visibility to help improve safety and deter crime while making business districts more inviting.”

The Mayor’s Office says it started under the Public Environment Management Office, or PEMO. A team to work on addressing livability in Portland was established by Mayor Wheeler last year under an emergency declaration. The team has since been expanding light installations across Portland.

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The Mayor’s Office says the city has also been partnering with local business districts to offer help managing and funding some of the lighting and installation, as well as identifying areas with trees and infrastructure for possible installation. Urban Forestry reviews the street light proposals to ensure appropriate installation.

The plan was divided into three phases.

Phase 1: (which the Mayor’s Office says has been installed)

  • Building off the historic downtown holiday lighting, the City has added
  • Lighting to 6 blocks of parks (Director’s Park, 3 South Park Blocks, Chapman and Lownsdale Squares) in the central city; increased the time the lighting will remain in place; and added 4 additional blocks of street tree lighting (City Hall, PDX Building, 3rd and Pine)
  • Street tree lighting from Burnside to Glisan on NW 3rd, NW 4th and NW 5th avenues
  • 71 street trees on NE Sandy, NE 42nd and Kelly Plaza
  • 18 street trees on St. Johns Plaza

Phase 2: (which the Mayor’s Office says installation is currently in progress)

  • 35 Street trees in Montavilla on SE Stark and NE Glisan
  • 142 trees in the Jade District (82nd, SE Division)
  • 103 trees on NE Fremont (Beaumont)
  • Lents Commons (The Mayor’s Office says Portland Prosper is funding lighting trees in plaza adjacent to their building)

Phase 3: (The Mayor’s Office says these are future installation projects)

  • NE Broadway
  • Lloyd District
  • Central Eastside District
  • SE Hawthorne
  • St Johns (North Lombard)
  • Kenton
  • Foster Powell
  • North Williams/Dawson Park

“I think it’s awesome,” said Kevin Signalness, a St. John’s resident. “The more lights the better and safer it is. Growing up here, it was kind of dim for a while. I noticed the lights were up for a while for the Christmas season and they took them down, but I think these are really cool.”

“I think I’m for it,” said Nick Ehnot, a St. John’s resident. “On a lot of these streets it’s so dark at night here. I don’t think the street lights provide a ton down here in North Portland. Just having more light on the streets when we are out walking our dogs or we’re with our kids is a really nice thing.”

Business district leaders across the city also agree with the plan.

“COVID was tough on our district,” said Maura White, volunteer president of the Hollywood Booster Business Association. “Working with the city we’ve been able to light up the street trees making Sandy more inviting for pedestrians.”

“While we are timing the turning on of our lights with Chinese New Year at the end of January, we are incredibly optimistic, and have felt so supported by the City for prioritizing this type of creative solution for our neighborhood,” said Jessie Burke, with the Society Hotel and OCTA Chair.

“The enhanced lighting has created a warm and festive atmosphere throughout the Downtown and Old Town areas,” said Sydney Mead, the Senior Director of Downtown Programs for Downtown Portland Clean & Safe. “Our goal is to increase safety and activations throughout our district, we were thrilled that this partnership with the City allowed our traditional holiday lighting program to be expanded and extended as it never has been before. The light installations are bringing people downtown and into public spaces in joyful and meaningful ways. In fact, there was actually a couple who got married under one of the light installations. For me, this is a demonstration of the positive impact that can happen when the City, community organizations, and private citizens collaborate on civic projects and programs. It has been the highlight of my year.”