A series of recent conversations about where Portland, Oregon’s city commissioners live, and the democratic implications of having a majority of folks from the Westside govern the majority of the folks who live on the eastside (a claim that was met with incredulity), prompted me to dive a bit deeper into:
Portland — Eastside vs Westside, by the numbers
Currently, Portland has five City Commissioners. Let’s see how they break down:
Mayor Wheeler (SW Hills) - WESTSIDE
Commissioner Fish (Goose Hollow) - WESTSIDE
Commissioner Fritz (West Portland Park) - WESTSIDE
Commissioner Eudaly (Woodlawn) - EASTSIDE
Commissioner Hardesty (East Portland) - EASTSIDE
Looks like WESTSIDE, 60%, EASTSIDE, 40%
However, Portland’s population as a whole is 79% Eastside, 21% Westside, as measured by population. So, even with two out of five commissioners from the eastside, the westside is still over-represented. Indeed, it would be more equitable if four commissioners were from the eastside, and only one from the westside, by sheer population.
The average households size on the eastside is 2.53; on the westside, it’s 2.0. (The citywide average is 2.4 people per household.) Due to this difference household sizes, 75% of all households are on the eastside, and 25% on the westside.
For whatever reason, though citywide 94% of homes are occupied (that is, there are 0.94 households for every dwelling unit), the occupancy rate of eastside houses is 95%, vs. 92% on the westside. As a result, 74% of all homes are on the eastside, and 26% on the westside.
Given that less than 80% of homes and households are on the eastside, it could be argued that, every once in a while, proportional representation would mean there should be a second Commissioner from the westside…