Support Us Button Widget

Making sense of Portland’s proposed city council districts

A major component of Portland’s transition to the new city charter involves mapping four districts which will each elect three city councilors.

Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square is painted with large multicolored circles. People lounge in the sun in chairs scattered across the area.

Districts will get rid of at-large city council elections, promoting more equitable representation.

Photo courtesy of City of Portland

Table of Contents

Back in November 2022, Portland voters passed Ballot Measure 26-228 — a bill that would transform the city’s charter and how its government would function.

That transition process is well underway toward enacting its three major changes: the implementation of ranked-choice voting, electing a mayor with executive authority who delegates various tasks to a city administrator, and the formation of a 12-member, district-elected city council.

On the last topic, it’s confirmed that there will be four districts with three councilors elected from each, but the exact geographic boundaries are still undecided. That’s where the city wants your input — but the materials it sent out recently weren’t exactly the clearest.

Essentially, there are three options for how the final district map will look, named options “Alder,” “Cedar,” and “Maple.”

Alternating maps show possible district borders for Portland's future city councilor elections.

Thirteen community members are in charge of establishing the four districts.

Photos courtesy of City of Portland

When you view each option, you can see that they are divided into four parts roughly equal in population and land area. However, slight variation does lead to larger impacts, which we break down below.


Based largely on established neighborhood boundaries, this option uses I-84 and the Willamette River to divide the central city in a way that will “promote broad engagement” and “distribute significant assets and institutions.”


Transit corridors like Northeast Sandy Boulevard, Southeast 12th Avenue, 82nd Avenue, and MAX lines inform this layout, which prioritizes how the transportation influences “the use of public space and notions of neighborhood.”


This option emphasizes keeping most of the central city — including Albina and other inner eastside neighborhoods, together in one district to best align with the Central City 2035 plan.

What’s next?

Throughout July, there will be eight public hearings hosted by the Independent District Commission, providing opportunities for people to make their voices heard. The final decision is slated to take place by September.