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Audit: Southwest Portland residents face challenges, too

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For many Portlanders, the southwest part of town would seem an ideal place to live. Safety is not a high concern and it has an abundance of natural beauty.

But an audit released Wednesday says resident have some of the same concerns as those who live in east Portland, which is considered one of the more challenging parts of town to live. They include unpaved roads, a lack of sidewalks, and — surprisingly — limited access to parks.

Those are among the findings of the audit tilted "Southwest Portland: Residents rate livability highly while some services are much worse than citywide." It was the second audit conducted by the City Auditor's Office of the opinions of residents who live in the seven neighborhood coalition office areas. The first audit was of East Portland, where some of the findings were similar.

"While Southwest residents clearly feel better on most neighborhood issues than Portlanders in general, the City has much work to do to turn around resident opinions on the overall job of City government in Southwest and elsewhere. Residents in Southwest and Portland generally, have given significantly lower ratings for overall City government compared to ten years ago," says the audit, which is based in part on the annual Community Surveys conducted by the auditor's office.

You can read the audit here.

Among other things, the audit found that while Southwest Portland residents feel safer that those who live in many other part of the city, police and fire response times are actually worse.

"The response time for high priority police calls is almost a full two minutes slower than the city in general. The Police Bureau says response times are longer in Southwest because of street connectivity and access issues. Fire and Rescue staff suggest times are slower due to the hilly terrain and winding roads in the area," the audit says.

An even bigger problem is overall road conditions, however. Southwest Portland has the highest percent of unimproved roads in the city, with a notable lack of paved streets, sidewalks and bike lanes available to residents.

"Southwest residents who are active in the neighborhood association focus on a number of issues, but a primary one continues to be transportation," says the audit, which note that many transportation-related projects are planned but not yet funded.

The audit concludes by saying, "Even though Southwest residents have very positive opinions of their neighborhoods, the City’s work may need to focus on certain service areas to ensure the area retains a high degree of livability. Issues such as public safety response times, access to more alternative means of transportation such as biking and walking trails, street maintenance and paving, and improved water and sewer services are a few areas in need of attention from city government."