First Advisor

Sy Adler

Term of Graduation

Summer 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Citizens' associations, Metropolitan government, Neighborhood government, Oregon -- Portland, Portland Office of Neighborhood Associations (Portland, Or.)



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 394 pages)


In 1974, the City of Portland established, by city ordinance, the Office of Neighborhood Associations (ONA). This ordinance also codified a set of commitments the City would make to involve citizens in local decision making pertaining to a wide variety of issues, from land use development policies to various service allocations.

Beginning with thirty active neighborhood-based groups in 1974, ONA helped organize thirty more neighborhood associations (NAs) over the next five years. Today, the City hosts over ninety active NAs. This dissertation chronicles changes that have occurred in Portland's Neighborhood Association program over a roughly 24-year period, spanning 1974–1998. A theoretic framework is applied in order to account for these changes. This framework posits that crises stemming from the competing outlooks and agendas of stakeholder groups have forced shifts in programmatic commitments and norms. Early responses to crises fostered a “rulemaking” approach intended to sort out and clarify stakeholder roles, responsibilities and terms of accountability. Responses to later crises have resulted in more rules, as well as the expansion of the program to include nonneighborhood-based organizations.

This study finds that Portland's commitment to involve citizens in local decision-making has been altered significantly over the course of the study period. The origins, evolution and implications of Portland's shifting commitments to citizen involvement are examined through historic case analysis.


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