Community Engagement Best Practices 


for Portland Bureau of Transportation's

Healthy Businesses Permit Program

Timeline: May - August 2020

Program Context

On May 28th 2020, in response to COVID-19, the Portland Bureau of Transportation released a free permit for businesses through their Healthy Business Program. This permit has allowed for businesses to extend seating, retail space, etc., into the public right-of-way. 

Throughout the summer of 2020, We All Rise partnered with community members, local organizations, urban designers, construction firms, and multiple bureaus within the City of Portland to uphold the integrity of the program. Together, we advocated for a deep equity lens to drive the program's stakeholder engagement, community outreach, and plan execution. Our best practices have left tangible impact both at PBOT's institutional level and across six physical city districts.


The City of Portland has a long road ahead to achieve their diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility goals. Our work brought together Prosper Portland, Bureau of Developmental Services, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Bureau of Transportation to bring equity priorities into institutional decision-making processes. Our advocacy successfully influenced the city to focus in regions with diverse community members, create support systems for BIPOC businesses, and engage more diverse stakeholders. Most importantly, PBOT created two new internal positions to take on the work We All Rise was advocating and doing throughout the program. 


In the Alberta District, we worked with the local development organization Alberta Main Street, along with restaurant owners, to advocate for a community-driven design process. We supported business owners who opposed full street closures through PBOT's program, maintaining their sales and supporting those who need parking and bus stop access. We also advocated for brick-and-mortar BIPOC businesses in the district and created a summer series of pop-up markets for BIPOC-owned microenterprises to re-enter the gentrified district.



On Woodstock, we worked with the local Neighborhood Association and the Business District Organization to provide information related to the permitting options. We helped the Neighborhood Association develop program materials and hosted online listening sessions to ensure any concerns related to the permit were addressed.



On Killingsworth Street, we worked with Portland State University's Center for Public Interest Design, SRG Partnership, Place.LA Urban Design, and local business owners to prioritize public engagement and community involvement in the development of a side street plaza for safely distanced social and economic activity. We All Rise facilitated design conversations and developed partnerships with community members through a joint design process. We prioritized the sharing of community public space by helping the district develop a community cooperative agreement.



In the Jade District, we worked with APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon) and the Portland Chinese Times to prioritize community outreach about the permit program to Asian-American business owners. We hosted a listening meeting where professionals from the City of Portland heard concerns related to programming and changing street access within deep East Portland. This led to changes in permit information to address language barriers, and showcased important information on the infrastructure challenges of permitting in the Jade District.



On Mississippi, we partnered with a long term Black community activist and founder of Mississippi Street Fair, along with businesses leaders, community members, and advocacy organizations, to extend the BIPOC pop-up program on Alberta to two self-sufficient  locations on the street. We also provided mentorship in community engagement to a new volunteer for the permit program and helped heal mistrusting relationships within the Black community from past urban planning initiatives.