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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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Socially Responsible Investing: Draft Proposal for Public Comment

Portland’s financial investments should speak up for our community’s values.   Last year, the City Council took a first step toward this goal when we unanimously adopted a policy that included social responsibility principles for the City’s own financial investments.  The resolutions established a temporary committee to take a look at how the City should apply these principles and immediately added one company, Wal-Mart, to a “Do-Not-Buy List.” 

The temporary committee met through the spring of this year and developed a recommendation, which they presented to City Council on August 6.

I have developed a resolution to implement the committee’s recommendation.  The resolution would create a standing permanent committee to recommend companies for inclusion on, or removal from, the City’s Do-Not-Buy List.  In addition, the resolution would authorize the City Treasurer to purchase a subscription offered by a research firm that specializes in supporting investor decisions about social- and values-based investment.

The draft Council documents are available for review here:

I plan to bring this resolution to City Council for consideration along with a resolution to renew the Council’s direction that the City shall not purchase Wal-Mart securities.  I welcome any comments about these two draft resolutions.  You can, of course, contact me with your thoughts at any time, but sending me your comments by Tuesday, December 9, will ensure that I will have time to consider them before I file the resolutions with the Council Clerk.

Please contact my policy director, Katie Shriver, if you have comments or questions about these resolutions.  Katie’s phone number is 503-823-4682, and her e-mail address is  

Snow and Ice in Forecast: Are You Prepared?

Meteorologists are predicting severe winter weather in the Portland area tomorrow. 

Winter weather in the Portland Metropolitan region can change quickly and without warning, making travel unpredictable. The intensity of a single snow and ice storm can vary significantly throughout the region because of the area's unique weather patterns and geography. The time of day the snow strikes also will influence winter travel.

Portland averages at least one significant snowfall annually. The next time it happens, be ready. Every resident and business should be prepared for the worst possible conditions to provide for your safety. Essential equipment includes chains, snow shovel, and sand or de-icing granules.

Delay your trip until conditions are better

The best advice for traveling in bad winter weather is not to travel at all, if you can avoid it. Wait until conditions improve before venturing out in winter weather. Allow the snow plows, sanding trucks, and other emergency vehicles to get out ahead of you to treat conditions. Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

Take transit

Plan to commute by public transit in bad weather. Information about bus and MAX light rail is available online from TriMet or by calling 503-238-RIDE. TriMet advises riders to expect 20 to 30-minute bus delays, so plan accordingly, dress warmly, and be cautious crossing the street to your stop.

Check weather and street conditions

When you head out, give yourself extra time and check weather and traffic reports before you go. Check PublicAlerts for breaking news and information on major service disruptions. It will provide links to ODOT's TripCheck for highway road conditions. Remember, freeways, major arterials, and bus routes are your best bets for winter travel.

Prepare your home and family

Develop an emergency plan with your family that includes an alternate way home. Identify where each member should go if getting home is not possible because of snow conditions. Make sure there are provisions, food, and blankets at your contingency location.

Familiarize yourself with school, daycare, and employer snow policies.

Chains - your link to safety!

Buy chains, dry fit them, carry them in your vehicle, and use them. When ODOT issues a requirement to use chains on all State roads, remember that several highways run through Portland: 82nd Avenue, Powell Boulevard, Lombard Street, Barbur Boulevard, Sandy Boulevard (outer east side), McLoughlin Boulevard and Macadam Avenue.

Have a well stocked emergency kit in your vehicle to keep you safe and more comfortable during long waits. Your kit should include chains, shovel, bag of sand, battery jumper cables, first aid kit, basic tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver and knife), blanket, extra clothing (hats, socks, boots, mittens), flashlight, and cellular phone or CB Radio.

You are responsible for your vehicle

If you choose to drive, stay with your vehicle in a snow and ice storm. Any abandoned vehicle is subject to being cited and impounded. To locate your vehicle, call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044.

Any vehicle creating a safety hazard is subject to towing. If you are driving and visibility and conditions are getting worse rapidly, do not stop in a travel lane. Look for an opportunity to pull off the road into a safe parking area and wait for conditions to improve. If you cannot reach your home, move your vehicle off a major street or plow route onto a side street so that plows can completely open up major streets. If you become stuck or stranded in severe weather, stay with your vehicle for warmth and safety until help arrives. While you wait for help to arrive, open a window slightly for ventilation, run your motor sparingly, and use your emergency flashers.

Recover your vehicle as soon as possible

Parking regulations and other road safety regulations remain enforceable during a winter storm. If you leave your vehicle parked in a metered parking space or other time zone during a winter storm, recover your vehicle as soon as possible when conditions improve. If you receive a citation, follow the instructions on the back of it to resolve it or contest it with the County Circuit Court.

In the aftermath

As soon as possible, clear your catch basins, sidewalks, and driveways across pedestrian paths of snow and ice, slippery leaves, and debris. Remove icicles hanging over doorways and walkways. By City Code, property owners are liable for personal injury and property damage caused by snow, ice, and other debris on sidewalks and driveways.

As the snow plowing operation proceeds, a snow berm develops. It is impossible to plow without leaving a berm. Individual property owners are responsible for clearing away the snow berm from driveways and entrances. Pile shoveled snow where it can be absorbed into the ground, not on the street and public right of way. Businesses hiring contractors to remove snow from lots should store the snow on your property, not dump it on the street.

Mayor Hales, Commissioner Novick propose $46 million Portland Street Fund

After months of public input, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick proposed a Portland Street Fund that will more than double the City’s pavement maintenance budget. The Street Fund investments will also make it safer for children to walk to school and for seniors to walk to transit stops, by filling in missing sidewalks and making crossing improvements (such as flashing beacons) at dangerous intersections. Just under 40 percent of the first three years of safety improvements will be made in East Portland. Examples of the safety projects that will be funded include:

  • Safety and improved transit access along SE 122nd Avenue in East Portland. These improvements are prompted in part by TriMet officials, who have said they will upgrade bus service on that street to frequent service if these investments are made. 
  • Sidewalks around David Douglas High School, the largest high school in Oregon.
  • Sidewalks on SE 117th Avenue, by Mill Park Elementary;
  • Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway crossing improvements, from SW 30th Avenue to SW 65th Avenue, improving connections to Bridlemile Elementary, Hayhurst Elementary, and Robert Gray Middle School.

The fund will provide about $15 million a year for preventive maintenance for street pavement in the first three years – investments that are estimated to prevent the need for more than $650 million in costly rebuilds, over a ten year period. Portland uses the StreetSaver computer model, a model used by many jurisdictions to forecast pavement condition. According to the model, if street maintenance is funded at the current budget level, 56 percent of busy streets are forecast to be in fair or better condition in 10 years. With the Portland Street Fund, 67 percent of busy streets would be in fair or better condition in 10 years, according to the same computer model. 

Businesses will pay between $3 and $144 a month, with a 50 percent discount for non-profits, under an approach developed by a business workgroup, which included representatives from Venture Portland and the Portland Business Alliance. Individuals will pay rates related to their ability to pay. For example:

  • A couple making $40,000 to $60,000 will pay $5 a month.
  • A couple making $60,000 to $75,000 a year will pay $7.50 a month.
  • A couple making $75,000 to $100,000 will pay $10 a month.

The tax has a $5,000 per child deduction. For example, a couple making $65,000, with two children, would have an adjusted income of $55,000 and would pay at the $5 per month level. Higher income Portlanders will pay more, with couples making more than $350,000 paying $75 a month. "Which is still less than the average bill for cable television," Novick said.

"In addition, because this is a local income tax, these payments will be deductible on your State and Federal income tax forms, which means people who itemize deductions will be out of pocket less than the face value of the tax," Novick added. "For example, most people making between $75,000 and $100,000 a year itemize deductions, and pay a marginal Federal tax rate of 15% and a marginal State rate of 9%. Deductibility means that they'd actually only be out of pocket $7.60 a month."

The Portland Street Fund results from the Our Streets PDX transportation funding conversation that started in January. The City Council considered a Transportation User Fee in May, but decided to seek more public input on ways to reduce charges for low-income residents and businesses, and provide a discount for non-profits. 

“After months of thoughtful public discussion, we have a proposal that begins to address our longstanding maintenance and safety needs,” Hales said. “No one likes to pay more taxes, but we certainly can’t count on Congress to come and save us. The Portland Street Fund raises enough money to make a difference and provides the resources the community says we urgently need.” 

"The Portland Street Fund is a very different proposal than the City Council considered in May," Commissioner Novick said.

“Thanks to the input and hard work of three committees over the summer, we have a much better proposal now,” Novick said. “The Portland Street Fund is more affordable for middle-class families. We protect low-income residents with an exemption. And we have developed much more detailed information on the investments we will make."

The fund will allocate 56 percent of net revenue to maintenance, and 44 percent to safety projects, with the understanding that many projects accomplish both goals.

“Preventive maintenance saves money in the long run,” Transportation Director Leah Treat said. “The Portland Street Fund will provide $45 million in the first three years, and at that rate after 10 years, we can avoid spending more than $650 million in more expensive road rebuilds. Our crews are working hard to provide the right treatment at the right place, at the right time.”

The Portland City Council will conduct a first reading and public hearing on the proposal at 2 p.m., Nov. 20 at City Council Chambers. A second reading and vote are expected at 10 a.m., Dec. 3. 

Learn more at or ask questions or provide comments at Talk about it on twitter, using hashtag #ourstreetspdx or see @pbotinfo


Portland schools celebrate International Bike+Walk to School Day

October 8, 2014-- I was so pleased to participate in International Bike and Walk to School Day with Principal Joyner and the students, family and faculty at Hosford Middle School. Along with 60 other Portland schools and many other schools around the world, Hosford students celebrated their commitment to living healthful and active lives by taking advantage of the beautiful fall morning and walking to school together.

Portland's Safe Routes to School program provides “Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation in an Equitable manner” to support the efforts of students, parents and teachers in creating an active partnership between schools and the communities they serve.

Since we started our partnership with the Safe Routes to School initiative in 2005, 42% of trips taken by Portland elementary school students are on foot or on bike—up from just 7% nine years ago.

Despite our progress, there are still neighborhoods in Portland where walking or biking to school isn’t a viable option because the students don’t have access to sidewalks, bikeways and safe pedestrian crossings. We have already made great strides, but it is our hope that the program will continue to grow through prioritized funding to safety projects.

It was impressive to see so many enthusiastic students with their families come together this morning at Hosford. And it wasn’t just students and families. Safe Routes to School helps build strong and connected communities. In fact, we were joined by Rob Sadowsky from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance who helped students make pedal-powered smoothies; Cory Poole from NW Skate Coalition who teaches skate safety in local middle schools; and active transportation advocate extraordinaire, Noel Mickelberry from Oregon Walks.

It is my hope that through the Safe Routes to School Program, schools around Portland will follow Hosford’s example and continue to make active transportation accessible and enjoyable for all children in their neighborhoods.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer joins local officials to celebrate 5 new pedestrian flashing beacons at East Portland crossings

After holding a news conference on SE Stark Street and 113th Avenue, U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer crosses at the new pedestrian safety beacon along with Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, City Commissioner Steve Novick and ODOT Region 1 Interim Manager Rian Windsheimer.  At the same time, Portland Police held a crosswalk enforcement action at the crossing to highlight back to school safety. Photo credit: Felicity J. Mackay, Portland Bureau of Transportation

September 2, 2014-- As efforts continue to increase funding for longstanding transportation safety and maintenance needs throughout Portland, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer joined local and state officials and community partners today to celebrate the installation of new pedestrian flashing beacons at five busy East Portland intersections.

The five new beacons, which flash yellow when a pedestrian pushes a button, give a needed safety boost to the intersections, all of which cross multi-lane busy streets in East Portland. These pedestrian safety improvements, part of a package of 18 new beacons, were made possible by state funding secured last spring by East Portland Legislators.

“These safety improvements are effective and affordable solutions,” said Congressman Earl  Blumenauer. “I commend the hard work of officials at both the City of Portland and the State of Oregon for working together for the common goal of transportation safety.”

“Standing here at SE 113th and Stark, it’s clear that this busy, multilane street will now be safer and easier to cross for everyone, especially kids going to and from Ventura Park Elementary School and to Ventura Park,” said City Commissioner Steve Novick as he gathered with Congressman Blumenauer, State Rep. Vega Pederson and other officials and community members.

Community members have long identified these intersections as needing improvements. The Portland Bureau of Transportation committed to installing the first five by the start of the school year.In addition to SE 113th Ave. and Stark Street, the four other beacons activated at busy intersections are at: SE 120th Ave. and Foster Road, NE 141st Ave. and Glisan Street, SE 122nd Ave. and Stephens Street and SE 122nd Ave. and Oregon Street.  The State of Oregon has also installed a beacon on US Route 26 at SE Powell Boulevard and 168th Avenue. The others will be installed over the next few months.

“These improvements are significant. A motorist is five times more likely to stop for a pedestrian at crossings with beacons than one without,” Novick added. “That can be a matter of life and death on a busy, wide street. I appreciate the collaborative effort with the state and federal government to make these needed infrastructure improvements throughout the city.”

"It's a strong step forward for East Portland to have more ways for kids to travel safely to school,” said Oregon State Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson. “There's more work to be done, but this is a great example of a partnership that should and must continue. The entire East Portland delegation and I will continue to advocate for safety improvements in East Portland."

Novick and Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, also pointed to a map of Portland showing the new beacon locations as well as many more intersections in need of safety improvements. 

“As a mother of four kids, I care deeply about safe crossings and want to make sure all kids can walk and bike to school safely,” Treat said. “These safety beacons are an important tool and support our philosophy that any road fatality is one too many.”

“The beacon you see today, along with 17 others throughout the city that have been or will be installed were paid for with $1.9 million in ODOT transportation funds,” said ODOT Region 1 Interim Manager Rian Windsheimer. “I want to thank our East Portland legislators and Commissioner Novick for their leadership and commitment to transportation safety. It will take all of us, working together, to improve safety for all modes.”

As officials dedicate the new rapid flash beacons, Portland Police and the Portland Bureau of Transportation held a crosswalk enforcement action to highlight pedestrian safety at the crossing.   Portland Police and PBOT will hold another crosswalk enforcement action on Friday morning at NE 22nd Avenue and Killingsworth Street in which Treat will be the designated pedestrian.