Wednesday, November 15 marks the last time the Portland City Council will meet in the current council chambers at City Hall until January 2025.
Following a Thanksgiving week break, the council will meet virtually, until in-person meetings resume at an alternate location in mid-January. By then, the council is slated to hold meetings at the city's Development Services Building, also called "the 1900 Building" at 1900 SW 4th Ave., room 2500 in the Portland State University neighborhood.
After this week, the public will be able to attend and give testimony virtually, with space at the Portland Building for anyone who needs a place to watch or participate, until the council resumes in-person meetings at the 1900 Building.
The change is spurred by a remodel of council chambers, to make room for a new 12-person council, come January 2025. The current chambers only accommodate a five-person council. Other upgrades to accessibility and audiovisual equipment are also on deck.
The remodel is part of an ongoing charter transition that called for a slew of changes to overhaul Portland's current form of government.
City staff said site logistics at the Portland Building will allow for viewing and giving testimony, but would prevent the council from meeting there, due to space constraints.
"There are a lot of logistics and needs involved in running a city council meeting, including council clerk operations, presenter needs, microphones and cameras, specialized technology for broadcasting and accommodating virtual public testimony and public accessibility," Carrie Belding, public information officer with the city's Office of Management and Finance, explained.
Belding noted the 1900 Building has space with a dais and broadcasting equipment that can accommodate public hearings.
The council chambers remodel will kick off a slew of other work at City Hall to gear up for Portland's new, larger council and incoming city administrators.
City commissioners will remain in their offices at City Hall until July, when they move to alternative spaces while commissioner offices are renovated. Commissioners didn't immediately embrace moving offices before their terms are up. Some bemoaned the disruption and said the city should instead focus on finding locations for new district offices in each of the four new voting districts.
City staff working on charter transition logistics say the City Hall remodel was already budgeted for and needs to begin immediately, to ensure council chambers and City Hall offices are ready to go by January 2025.
City commissioners have also pushed back on other major components of the timeline for implementing Portland's new government structure, voting earlier this month to maintain oversight of city bureaus until their terms end.