City Hall Update: Needle holds steady on gang violence
Although gang-related violence dropped in Portland over the last two years, 2018 is starting out at the same level as 2017.
The Portland Police Bureau's Gang Enforcement Team investigated eight incidents last month, the same number as in January 2017. That is still less than the 14 investigated in January 2016 and the 10 investigated in January 2015, howerver.
Officially, 2015 remains the most violent year, with 193 incidents investigated. That fell to 159 in 2016 and fell again to 122 in 2017. Almost all of the incidents in all three years were shootings. No one was reported injured in most of them.
Police veterans say the numbers were significantly higher in the 1980s and 1990s, when the increase in gang activity caught city leaders by surprise. Gang-related incidents were not tracked separately in those days, however.
Children's Levy renewal on May ballot
The City Council referred a measure to extend the Portland Children's Levy to the May 15 primary election ballot on Wednesday.
The levy helps fund programs that serve and feed children in the region. It was first approved by Portland voters in 2002 and was renewed in 2008 and 2013. It currently funds 74 programs.
The May measure would renew the existing local option property tax at $0.4026 per thousand dollars of assessed value and raise an estimated $118.4 million over five years.
Speed signs being changed
The Portland Bureau of Transportation began replacing 25 mile per hour signs on residential streets with 20 mile per hour signs last Tuesday.
The City Council lowered the speed limit on nearly 70 percent of Portland streets on Jan. 17 as part of its Vision Zero goal to eliminate all fatal and serious injury crashes by 2025.
"Five miles an hour may not sound like much, but when it comes to reducing the severity of crashes it makes a big difference. By reducing speeds from 25 to 20, we can make it nearly two times more likely that a person will survive a crash," says PBOT Director Leah Treat.
Approximately 2,000 signs are expected to be changed by April. City officials say drivers can obey the posted speed limits until then.