Portland officials are preparing to implement a slate of voter-approved changes to city government, starting with a new rent control ordinance that takes effect Thursday, and including several revisions to the city’s charter.

Updates to the rent control ordinance and new protections for tenants, including a ban on apartment application fees and a 90-day notice for rent increases, were included in Question C, approved by city voters in November.

In a memo to the City Council presented Monday, Interim City Manager Danielle West said she plans to include funding for additional housing safety staff and associated costs, such as office space, in the next city budget.

“This initiative is likely to require significantly more staff work, both in administration and enforcement,” West wrote in the memo. “For example, we anticipate an increase in the number of complaints received by the Housing Safety Office, which will require additional investigative and enforcement activity.”

A letter outlining how the changes will affect 2023 rental registrations will be sent to landlords this week, and the city will also post a list of frequently asked questions on its website.

The six charter revisions voters also approved in November are scheduled to take effect July 1, and the City Council must prepare for them. State law stipulates that charter revisions take effect on the first day of the new fiscal year following an election.


The council must establish an ordinance governing the city’s new clean elections program, as well as allocate funding for it. The program will provide qualified candidates for local office with campaign funds from the city.

The November 2023 election is expected to be the first with the new program in place, and the city clerk will establish a searchable online database before then of all information included in registrations and campaign finance reports.

Councilors must also enact ordinances establishing a proportional ranked-choice voting system and codifying the Peaks Island Council. And the council must appoint a new citizen police review board and enact an ordinance creating an ethics commission to help develop a code of ethics ordinance, hear complaints and rule on alleged ethics violations.

At its annual goal-setting workshop next week, the council will discuss the timeline and work required for each revision, said Mayor Kate Snyder. “This is important work the city is undertaking and there’s a role for the council as we move forward,” Snyder said.

In addition to banning apartment application fees and requiring 90 days notice for rent increases, the Question C ordinance changes will limit standard annual rent increases to 70 percent of the consumer price index. The current ordinance, enacted via referendum in 2020, limits increases to 100 percent of the CPI.

City attorneys are not aware of any legal challenges to either the ordinance changes or the charter revisions, a city spokesperson said.


In other news, the council held an inauguration ceremony Monday to welcome its newest member, Regina Phillips, who will represent District 3, and swear in Councilor Pious Ali, who was reelected to a third term in November. Phillips replaces Tae Chong, who didn’t seek a second term.

Snyder praised Chong’s three years of work on the council, which included navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to an influx of asylum seekers and grappling with staff shortages and a tough economy. “To talk with Tae even briefly is to know his passion for his work, his service and of course, this should be listed first – his family,” Snyder said. “I know you’ll leave here tonight with a to-do list a mile long.”

The addition of Phillips to the council means women hold a council majority – five of nine – for the first time in city history. Councilor Anna Trevorrow asked the public to acknowledge the moment Monday. “It’s a moment in history that we can all be proud of as a community,” Trevorrow said.

Monday’s council inauguration was the first in-person ceremony since 2019 – the last two were held remotely because of the pandemic. “I look out at everyone assembled here and we have so many important people here from our community tonight,” Snyder said. “It means an awful lot given the fact we haven’t had this opportunity for the last three years.”

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