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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

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Vista Bridge to get suicide-prevention screen under emergency measure, installation this month

In an effort to prevent additional suicides from the iconic Vista Bridge, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick today announced that he is ordering the immediate construction of a 9-foot-tall mesh screen on the historic span, an interim remedy that can be in place until a longer term solution and funding can be found.

“Unfortunately, this beautiful and elegant bridge has been known as Suicide Bridge since its construction in the 1920s.” Novick said. “It is time – past time – to stop the dying.”

Under City Code, a commissioner can declare an emergency when the public’s safety is endangered, a move that allows immediate action. Novick noted that in the first six months of this year, three people, including a 15-year-old girl, have jumped to their deaths from the bridge, matching the highest rate from any recent year, and that this record has created a substantial threat to the welfare and safety of the public above and below the bridge.

Construction of the screen mesh fence will begin in mid-July and take approximately two weeks at a cost of about $236,000. To deter climbing, the barrier is designed with a tight weave and a curved overhang. It will be installed along the inside of the railing and can be removed at any time with no permanent impact on the structure, in keeping with the bridge’s designation as a National Historic Landmark.

Tapani Inc, a company with expertise in bridgework and historic structures, including its recent work on the Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge, has been tapped to install the fence. The bridge will remain open during the installation, with crews narrowing the extra-wide lanes to create a construction zone and allow normal traffic flow in both directions. One sidewalk will remain open at all times.

For the long term, the City will continue to work with the State Historic Preservation Office on a solution that meets historic design guidelines and seek federal or other funding for the estimated $2.5 million to $3 million cost of a durable structure that would be consistent with the historic character of the bridge, a process that is expected to take two years or longer.

Novick thanked Kenneth and Bonnie Kahn “for their tireless advocacy for suicide barriers on the bridge,” and thanked David Stabler, reporter for The Oregonian for his February article: “Vista Bridge: Is it time to stop the dying on Portland’s iconic bridge?”

“Mr. Stabler’s article highlighted the devastation caused to victims’ families and even witnesses by suicides from the bridge, and presented strong evidence that barriers are effective in preventing suicides,” Novick said. “It was an example of how good journalism can drive public policy.”

Novick also thanked David O’Longaigh, the City’s senior bridge engineer, for his efforts to identify a temporary solution that would blend in with the existing bridge as much as possible, and could be easily removed once funding for a permanent solution is found.

“In addition to that, David himself helped convince me to make this decision,” Novick said. “David is responsible for all the bridges in the city. They are in his care. I asked him if he thought we should take this step. He said that he had come to the conclusion that the bridge has become a curse upon the City, and it is time to lift the curse.”

“We cannot bring back any of the people who have jumped from the Vista Bridge,” Novick concluded. “But we can take this step to avoid further suffering.”

For questions, contact Diane Dulken at 503-823-5552 or diane.dulken@portlandoregon.gov.

A Declaration of War: Stand Up for Workplace Wellness

War on ChairsThere’s a lot of evil in the world, but there’s a special kind of evil that has been lurking in our midst that few even know of, let alone discuss. It is destroying our lives, slowly and silently. We cannot tolerate this any longer. Something can and must be done. The time is now for us to take a stand.

Seriously, let’s take a stand. Stand up, get up, and stretch. The evil that is lurking in plain sight is chairs, which is why today, I declare a war on chairs!

Actually, my new vendetta is less against chairs and more against sitting for prolonged periods of time. I recently started digging into the research and articles linking sitting for long periods with a number of chronic health conditions, including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat and abnormal cholesterol level. For example, check out this recent article in the LA Times and this meta-analysis of 18 different studies that appeared in the journal Diabetologia.

One recent study found that adults who spend more than four hours a day sitting while watching television or playing computer games have nearly 50% increased health risk, compared with people who spend less than two hours a day sitting while watching television.

As James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine said in an article in the Los Angeles Times, “the chair is out to kill us.”

I certainly can be found guilty of prolonged sitting, which is why I asked the Mayor to bring a proclamation to City Council declaring July 17th “Stand Up for Workplace Wellness Day in the City of Portland.” And this Wednesday, July 17, the Mayor and my colleagues on Council will take a stand.

Although this is in good fun, the proclamation on Wednesday will underscore the very serious point that by taking the simple action of standing or stretching throughout the day, we can improve our health and well-being.

Research suggests that spending even a few hours a week at the gym or in other moderate to vigorous activity doesn’t offset the risk of sitting for extended periods. That point shouldn’t discourage anyone from working out, but it does demonstrate just how evil chairs are.

One way to counter the negative health effects of prolonged sitting is to stand when talking on the phone, eating lunch, or gathering for meetings. Although standing may not always be a viable option, incorporating some form of light, physical activity throughout the day is beneficial.

Down with chairs, and All Rise in honor of Stand Up for Workplace Wellness Day in Council Chambers at 9:30 a.m. this Wednesday, July 17.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Novick Warns Against DIRECTV Scam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Novick Warns Against DIRECTV Scam

Company Charges Customers for “NFL Sunday Ticket” They Did Not Order

PORTLAND, OR— City Commissioner Steve Novick today warned Portlanders who subscribe to DIRECTV to check their bills to see if the company is billing them for a $37.49 a month “NFL Sunday Ticket” package that they did not ask for.

“I pay my DIRECTV bill automatically and don’t always look at my bill, but I happened to look at it this month,” Novick said. “To my surprise, there was a charge of $37.49 for an ‘NFL Sunday Ticket’ package that I did not ask for and did not want. On the side of the bill, there is a statement that ‘If you wish to cancel to avoid payment, you must do so before the season starts. Refunds are not available after the season starts on Sunday, Sept. 8.’”

“Apparently they gave me this package for free when I signed up last year – I didn’t even know about it,” Novick said, “and now they’re billing me for a ‘renewal.’ I’m sure they’re doing this to millions of other people. They’re counting on people who use automatic bill pay to not even look at their bill, and if you don’t notice it until after September 8, they’ll say ‘sorry, you’re out of luck.’”

Novick said “there oughtta be a law against this kind of thing,” and his office has asked the State Attorney General’s office to see if the DIRECTV practice violates any rules.

“If there’s not a law against this, there should be,” Novick said. “They’re trying to steal money from innocent people.”

Contact: Chris Warner
Office: 503-823-1055
Cell: 503-490-4592

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