Gresham welcomes 'Facebook for neighborhoods'
GRESHAM, Ore. - The City is partnering with Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods, to deliver important information to residents using Nextdoor as a way to share information on public safety issues in their neighborhoods as well as community events, activities and services.
As a new Nextdoor partner, the City can now share its own news about services, programs and events to these private neighborhood sites, as well as post emergency notifications to help keep residents safe. Residents on Nextdoor can also send private, direct messages to the City. While being a municipal partner doesn't grant the City access to neighborhood conversations, it does open up a new channel for two-way communication with residents who opt-in for City alerts via Nextdoor.
Nextdoor is free for residents and the City.
Aaron Abrams, manager of Gresham's Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement, said the online network is a boon to busy residents who want to connect with their neighbors. At home, at any time, residents can get online to swap information on car prowls or graffiti, get recommendations on babysitters or restaurants, and organize block parties, park cleanups and other neighborhood events. Abrams said Nextdoor will be a powerful new communications tool for the City, allowing departments to get important news out quickly.
"I'm really excited about Nextdoor," Abrams said. "It combines the content of a community bulletin board, the engagement of Neighborhood Watch, and the functionality of Facebook. This is a great tool to help build stronger neighborhoods."
Nextdoor is catching on in Gresham. To date, 13 of 16 neighborhoods have launched Nextdoor sites, which are accessible only to residents who verify that they live in the neighborhood. The Gresham Butte Neighborhood Association now has 115 Nextdoor members after ramping up its site this spring, and President Mads Ledet said the network has great potential.
"The site feels like your back fence," Ledet said. "You can start to see persistent neighborhood problems - like speeding - bubble up online and begin to talk about long-term, lasting solutions."
Nextdoor is just one example of a new wave of digital engagement tools that the City Council has directed staff to push forward with this year to make connecting with City Hall easier than ever.
Residents who want to learn more about Nextdoor, or join a Nextdoor network, can visit www.nextdoor.com
and enter their address.
City of Gresham co-hosts first 'Repair' Café' in East County
GRESHAM, Ore. - The City of Gresham is co-hosting East Multnomah County's first Repair Café on Thursday, Aug. 14 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Rosewood Initiative, a neighborhood-building nonprofit located at 16126 S.E. Stark St. in Portland.
Repair Cafés are waste-reducing, money-saving, community-building events imported from Europe that connect people who fix stuff with people who need stuff fixed. Neighborhood volunteers provide free, simple repairs that keep toys, clothes and other household items out of landfills.
At the East County event, local volunteers will tackle:
- Bike repairs (tires, chains, gears, etc.)
- Small appliance repairs (fans, blenders, toasters, etc.)
- Sewing needs (rips, buttons, hems, etc.)
- Electronics repairs (toys, clocks, microwaves, etc.)
Repairs are free, and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
The City's Department of Environmental Services is organizing the event as a way to help residents reduce waste and save money. Shaunna Sutcliffe, the residential and schools program coordinator with the City's Recycling and Solid Waste Program, partnered with The Rosewood Initiative, the City of Portland, and Repair PDX to put on the event.
If it's successful, Sutcliffe hopes neighborhood groups will host more Repair Cafes in Gresham.
"Our mission at the City is to help Gresham residents reduce waste, so Repair Cafés perfectly match our mission," Sutcliffe said. "As a bonus, these events save residents money. And they're fun, bringing neighbors together in a whole new way."
The first Repair Café was held in the Netherlands in 2009 and quickly migrated to the United States. Regular events can now be found in Massachusetts and Minnesota, California and Tennessee. Repair PDX brought the events to Portland in June 2013.
Each Repair Café is unique, depending on the volunteers and their skills and the repair needs of residents. Participants just need to bring a broken item, and some curiosity and patience. Not all repairs are guaranteed. But most residents leave happy, with a working appliance or mended garment, a new acquaintance, and some advice on home repairs.
To volunteer, learn more, or help organize a Repair Café in Gresham, contact Sutcliffe at 503-618-2694 or Shaunna.Sutcliffe@GreshamOregon.gov
Firefighters Depart From Gresham To Fight Dalles Wildfire - 08/06/14
GRESHAM, Ore. - Media representatives can capture the departure of 20 Multnomah County firefighters at 3:30 p.m. today from Gresham Fire Station 74, 192nd and Halsey to fight the Rowena Fire burning in the Columbia River Gorge.
The Gresham Fire Department is sending one city engine with four firefighters to the Rowena Fire, which has burned about 200 acres and threatens an estimated 70 homes. The Multnomah County Fire Defense Board, made up of all the fire departments and fire districts in the county, are deploying the task force.
The total number of firefighters deployed this afternoon is 20, according to Gresham Fire Division Chief Scott Lewis, the current Fire Defense Board Chief for Multnomah County, and the official who made the assignments.
Scott reports that the deployment includes one Gresham engine, one Port of Portland engine, two City of Portland engines, one water tender from Corbett Fire District, and a task force leader from Portland Fire.
The task force is assembling at Gresham Fire Station 74, 192nd and Halsey, at 3:00 p.m. today for a 3:30 departure. Their first destination is the staging area at the Wahtonka High School on 10th street in The Dalles.
Gresham guarantees 66-day industrial application review - 08/06/14
GRESHAM, Ore. - The City of Gresham now guarantees a 66-day application process for industrial projects - a move that nearly cuts by half the state-mandated review time for developers and site selectors. Based on a survey of Oregon's largest cities, and land use and planning agencies, Gresham is believed to be the first city in Oregon to guarantee, in its own code, a shortened turnaround time for industrial application review and approval.
The industrial development code change was approved by the Gresham City Council in July, and takes effect Aug. 14. It is part of a two-year, Council-driven initiative to ensure that Gresham is one of the most competitive communities in which to do business in the Portland metropolitan region.
"We are patently focused on attracting and growing good jobs in our community. This is one concrete way the City can demonstrate our commitment to attracting industrial businesses to Gresham," Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis said. "We want to be a partner - not an impediment - to industrial development in our community; this change both enables us to be competitive and codifies our ability to meet the expectations of industrial businesses."
Under the new code, developers who want to build or renovate an industrial site in Gresham now have a stopwatch stitched into the application process. In Gresham, and some other cities, that process starts with a pre-application meeting. Once that meeting is scheduled, developers are now guaranteed - right in the rule book - by the City of Gresham that their application will be approved or denied in 66 days or less. That's a fraction of the current average industrial application review and approval time for the City, and a fraction of the state-mandated, 120-day process.
Shannon Stadey, acting director of Economic Development Services for the City, said the new code is aimed at boosting Gresham's strong industrial base.
Manufacturing, distribution, clean technology and professional service companies are the biggest employers in Gresham, where everything from medical equipment to microchips are made and where coffee, canned goods and airplane parts are shipped around the world. Millions of bank checks are processed each year in Gresham, along with thousands of jars of fruit jellies, preserves, syrups and sauces. According to the State of Oregon Employment Department, traded sector businesses in Gresham employ about 11,500 people. Boeing, US Bank, ON Semiconductor, Microchip Technology, Staples, Frito-Lay, Boyd Coffee Co., Pella Vinyl and Cascade Corporation are among the biggest employers in Gresham, Oregon's fourth-largest city.
"Industry is strong in Gresham, and we're hungry to grow the traded sector base," Stadey said. "We're open for business, and committed to being competitive. We're working hard to attract and grow companies, and contribute to regional economic growth."
As part of the City's competitiveness initiative, Gresham has streamlined and clarified its land use regulations and stepped up its targeted outreach to site selectors, including launching an economic development mobile app, GO Gresham.
For more than a decade, Gresham has assigned a "rapid response team" to industrial companies to help them expand and relocate on time and on budget. The team continues to partner with companies long after the project is complete, assisting with ongoing issues such as workforce training.
"As an industrial real estate brokerage practitioner, I can say that the City of Gresham is not just 'open for business,' it helps businesses thrive long after they've walked in the door," said Stuart Skaug, vice president of industrial properties for CBRE, Inc. in Portland. "The City's approach to industrial business attraction and retention is a great asset to economic development in the Portland metro region. The code change is just the latest example of their daily engagement on these issues."