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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

A New Form of Transportation Pedals into Portland

This week marked a new era for transportation in Portland. The City’s bike share system, BIKETOWN, launched this Tuesday with 1,000 smart bikes across 100 stations. Though we are the 65th city in the nation to adopt a bike share program, we have the largest—and one that was designed with convenience and affordability in mind.

BIKETOWN is ideal for short one-way trips, whether it be running errands, commuting in the Central City, or simply enjoying Portland’s urban environment. It’s easy to checkout a bike at a station kiosk or reserve a bike through your mobile phone or desktop. Users may also purchase a BIKETOWN card, which will allow users to tap the card on the bike’s keypad and then enter their 4-digit PIN. Similar to car2go, BIKETOWN bikes are equipped with GPS technology that allows the user to drop off bikes anywhere within the service area, not necessarily at a BIKETOWN kiosk. The GPS units also help deter theft and ensure a safe, high-quality experience.

PBOT staff have gone to great lengths to ensure this new transportation system fits seamlessly into Portland’s fabric. The lights on BIKETOWN bikes will turn on automatically when the bike starts moving, regardless of whether it is day or night.  Further, users will be reminded of safe riding practices by signs on kiosks and notes on the bicycles. 

Moreover, as we start relying more on data to drive transportation planning decisions, we intend to utilize anonymous data from GPS units to better understand mobility trends for people who ride bikes.  This will allow us to better prioritize biking and walking infrastructure where it will have the most impact.

BIKETOWN will help Portland meets its Climate Action Plan goals to reduce emissions from transportation. Bike share annual members in similar cities have reduced their driving by 20% and dramatically increased their bicycling. As a one-way trip tool, BIKETOWN will make our world class transit system even more convenient.

When BIKETOWN was designed, equity was essential in the decision-making process, influencing both fare structure and station location. At $2.50 per single ride, BIKETOWN is one of the most affordable bike share systems. For even greater affordability, BIKETOWN allows users to earn credits towards their accounts by returning BIKETOWN bikes at public bike racks to BIKETOWN kiosks. Further, as part of our station siting process, we made conscious decisions to look closely at affordable housing locations.  96% of the 13,000 affordable housing units within the BIKETOWN service area are within ¼ mile of a BIKETOWN station; 60% are within 500 feet. Moreover, the Community Cycling Center and PBOT received a People for Bikes grant to conduct grassroots outreach to affordable housing communities and providing deeply discounted memberships to low income Portlanders.

BIKETOWN is developing an ADA accessible bike share pilot program that will kick off in spring 2017.

With all of these innovative and sustainable features, BIKETOWN will be an affordable, high-quality transportation experience unmatched in the nation.  We hope you will check out a bike and go for a spin!

If you have any questions, please check out the extensive FAQ on the BIKETOWN website or contact BIKETOWN’s customer service at Phone: 866-512-BIKE (866-512-2453)
Email: customerservice@biketownpdx.com

Welcome 2016 SummerWorks Interns, Grace and Otelo!

Please join me in welcoming Otelo and Grace to Team Novick!

Otelo Reggy-Beane will be supporting Commissioner Novick’s community engagement and equity work, in addition to other policy and administrative duties.

Otelo is a rising senior at the International School of Beaverton and aspires to be an international lawyer involved in foreign diplomacy. He is involved in a number of extra-curricular activities including the World Affairs Council of Oregon's Young Leaders in Action program, Model United Nations and Junior Statesmen of America. Otelo’s community service also reflects his commitment to alleviating poverty and economic instability as a volunteer with The Burrito Project and as a tutor at Chehalem Elementary School.

Otelo has earned a Certificate of Excellence in Learning from the University of Virginia and has also been inducted in the National Honor Society, National Chinese Honor Society and Science National Honor Society.

In his free time Otelo enjoys playing basketball for Aloha High School, traveling around the world (he has been to 16 countries in 4 continents) and binging on Netflix.

Otelo can be contacted at otelo.reggy-beane@portlandoregon.gov and at (503) 823-4682.

 

Grace Ramstad will continue to work on later high school start times as it intersects with chronic absenteeism, in addition to other policy and administrative duties.

As a member of the Multnomah Youth Commission, Grace first became involved with Commissioner Novick’s office as a liaison a year ago, and will continue on as a SummerWorks intern. She spent the last year connecting with all of the schools in Multnomah County to identify key student leaders and collaborating with doctors to produce an op-ed article on the subject. This fall Grace will attend Georgetown University where she intends to major in Government and minor in Education, Inquiry, and Justice.

Her public service record began at 14-years-old as a Summer Reading Volunteer with the Troutdale Library. Grace recently graduated from Centennial High School, where she served as the student representative on the Centennial School Board and on the District Equity Team. With the other members of Centennial’s Future Business Leaders of America organization, she established Food for Families, a nonprofit organization that operates a mobile food pantry, providing free groceries out of a refurbished school bus. Her work in the community led Grace to receive the 2015 Multnomah County Volunteer Award and the Gresham Great Young Citizen Award for her outstanding service.  

As the 2016 Rose Festival Queen, Grace will continue to represent Portland and serve as an ambassador over the next year.

She can be reached at Grace.Ramstad@PortlandOregon.gov or (503) 823-4682.

A Few Thoughts After Last Week's Tragedies

In the wake of last week's tragic violence, I want to share two things--Charles Blow's column in the New York Times on Friday, and Robert Kennedy's speech after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The messages delivered by Blow, a black journalist in 2016, and RFK, a white senator in 1968, share the same impact—even delivered 48 years apart. Both men expressing heartbreak over senseless racial violence, both men encouraging everyone to recognize that, yes, “all lives matter,” but all lives don’t matter until black lives do, in fact, matter.  

Hundreds of journalists and activists have published hundreds of articles and op-eds in the past week, all of which can give you a better cultural understanding of the past week’s events than your elected officials. I do want to add one thought of my own: in countries like Great Britain, shootings of all kinds, including by the police, are extremely rare—because very few people, including police, have guns.

As Blow so eloquently said last week:

Anger and vengeance and violence are exceedingly easy to access and almost effortlessly unleashed.

The higher calling — the harder trial — is the belief in the ultimate moral justice and the inevitable victory of righteousness over wrong.

This requires an almost religious faith in fate, and that can be hard for some to accept, but accept it we must.

The moment any person comes to accept as justifiable an act of violence upon another — whether physical, spiritual or otherwise — that person has already lost the moral battle, even if he is currently winning the somatic one.

When we all can see clearly that the ultimate goal is harmony and not hate, rectification and not retribution, we have a chance to see our way forward. But we all need to start here and now, by doing this simple thing: Seeing every person as fully human, deserving every day to make it home to the people he loves.

Staying Safe this Fourth of July

The Fourth of July holiday is typically one of the busiest times of the year for the Bureau of Emergency Communications, which answers calls to 9-1-1 and the Police non-emergency line (503.823.3333) and dispatches help.  Stay safe while enjoying the holiday with friends and family.

Fireworks are a big reason for the increase in calls to the Bureau over the Fourth of July.  Oregon law bans possession, use, or sale of any fireworks that fly, explode, travel more than one foot into the air or more than six feet on the ground.  Often, legal and illegal fireworks used in neighborhoods during this holiday result in thousands of complaints.  Many illegal fireworks are visible for miles and can result in dozens of calls to 503.823.3333, tying up call takers.  There are some other resources available this weekend for reporting fireworks:

  • Portland Fire & Rescue has developed an online reporting form where Portlanders can file reports about the use of illegal fireworks in the City of Portland.  To report fireworks on this form, go to www.portlandoregon.gov/fire/71098.  This online form is intended to help track illegal fireworks use.  While filing a report will not automatically send out an enforcement team, it will allow the City to identify the areas where enforcement is needed.  The data will also be used to identify areas that have a high volume of illegal fireworks use so we can increase education and enforcement efforts in the future.
  •  Also, Portland Fire & Rescue will be staffing (503) 823-BOOM (2666) during peak fireworks periods.  You can call this number to report illegal fireworks.

Even with these tools available, we anticipate high call volume to 9-1-1 and (503) 823-3333 this weekend.  The Bureau of Emergency Communications schedules extra staff to cover these shifts, but call volume may still cause increased call hold times.  You can help by calling 9-1-1 only when necessary.

As always, call 9-1-1 if you have a life threatening emergency and need an immediate response from Police, Fire, or an ambulance. Call 9-1-1 to stop a crime in progress, report a fire, or call for an ambulance.  Do not call 9-1-1 to report fireworks unless there is an active fire hazard.  Examples of active fire hazards include aerial fireworks that have caught a roof on fire and fireworks shot directly at a person.  Instead, help keep your neighborhood safe by calling (503) 823-BOOM or (503) 823-3333 to report illegal fireworks, or use the online form.  Call (503) 823-3333 for all other non-emergency issues.   And, please know that the Bureau of Emergency Communications answers calls to 9-1-1 first, even when a call to 503-823-3333 has been holding longer.  If you call 503.823.3333 you may be put on hold without warning so the call taker can respond to a 9-1-1 call.   

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Addressing the Need for Affordable Housing

Portland is experiencing growing pains. We have an incredible parks system, well-respected public schools, a strong business community, and each neighborhood in our city has its own unique character. The rest of the country has taken notice, and we have thousands of new Portlanders to show for it. On the one hand, our increased population means that we have attracted impressive talent that enhances our economy and universities, as well as our culinary and artistic communities. Our quality of life and corresponding prominence on the national stage are great for Portlanders. On the other hand, growth means that our housing market is stretched thin.

Portland will continue to grow over the next 20 years. We anticipate that 260,000 new residents will join the 620,000 Portlanders who live here today. Absent a significant increase in supply, that population growth will continue to drive up the cost of housing. This is a huge problem, especially for the most vulnerable people in our community.

Thousands of families are forced to move every year because of rent increases, and sometimes more than once. For example, consider a family that will have to move out when their rent increases from $800 dollars to $1,400. A family facing such a steep increase may not be able to afford to rent a new apartment in the same school district, so they need to pull their kids out of school, putting them behind.

Currently, tens of thousands of Portlanders spend at least 30% of their income on rent.  When a family pays more than 30% of their income on housing, they don’t have enough left over to afford other necessities like food, clothes, and medical expenses. In the city budget this year, Council made a significant commitment to housing with $29 million in new investments in housing and homeless services.  And now, we are taking action on more strategies to address homelessness as well as the need for affordable housing.

Last week, Council took a historic step and partnered with Multnomah County to create the Joint Office for Homeless Services. The agreement, which transfers existing City and County programs that address homelessness to the Joint Office, establishes a baseline funding commitment of $15 million a year each from the City and the County. By combining City and County resources and knowledge, we should be able to work more efficiently to help the 4,000 people who sleep on our streets each night.

I am excited about the potential success of this historic partnership.  However, I’m concerned that, based on the City’s budget this year, we are $3.5 million short of our $15 million commitment. To address this funding gap, I have proposed a Council work session in the fall to discuss strategies, and I am confident that we will prioritize resources for this important need. 

Yesterday, Council adopted a Construction Excise Tax (CET) on commercial and residential development as an additional revenue source for affordable housing for families who earn below 60% median family income (MFI). For years, we’ve been preempted by the Legislature from enacting construction excise taxes. This has been unfortunate since development has costs, and a construction excise tax can be a logical revenue source to help us pay for those costs. Thanks to the Legislature’s action earlier this year, we now have this tool in our toolbox, and I’m glad that’s the case. If this tax had been in place for the past five years, the Housing Bureau estimates that the CET would have raised about $8 million. Taking this step now will help prevent the continued displacement of low income families and people of color from our city.

I have heard loud and clear that Portlanders are feeling the effects of our tight housing market and that significant commitments from your government are important to you. Together, these actions demonstrate City Council’s commitment to addressing the housing crisis, and I’m proud to support them.