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Nick Fish

Commissioner, City of Portland

phone: 503-823-3589


1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

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2016 Year in Review

Dear Friend,

As 2016 comes to an end, I want to share some reflections on the past year with you.

The big story, of course, is the surprising election of Donald Trump. The campaign was ugly and divisive. And President-elect Trump’s early moves on the environment, housing, civil rights, and immigration represent a clear threat to Portland values.

Portland continues to experience growing pains. We elected a new mayor and commissioner. The Council and the community responded to the housing crisis with historic new investments in affordable homes. We completed work on a 20-year vision for Portland’s future, and we took bold action to combat climate change. And we adopted a comprehensive plan to reduce traffic fatalities.

I cast some tough votes on high profile issues. I supported a police contract which addressed an acute staffing crisis and eliminated the "48 hour" rule. I opposed a new system of public finance for campaigns because I thought we should first ask taxpayers for their permission. And I disagreed with a proposal to build a mass shelter at Terminal 1 North because it was inconsistent with our long-term goals for growing family-wage jobs.

As always, I listened to people on all sides of the issues, and was guided by my values and principles.

Because of all the headwinds that we face, public service is more important than ever. That’s why I am so grateful for the people in our community who work tirelessly and with little fanfare to make our city a better place. And the best part of my job is that I get to partner with each of you.

Here are some of the highlights from 2016:


We are about to welcome two new members of City Council: Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. And we say thank you to Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick for their many years of public service.

My family spent last year in Europe. When my wife and kids returned home this summer, we sold our house and moved into a rental apartment in Goose Hollow. Now, Patricia and I both walk to work, and our son takes a bus to his middle school.

Delivering Safe Drinking Water

Portlanders are justifiably proud of their drinking water. We continue to work closely with state and federal regulators to protect the quality of our Bull Run water. This fall, Water Bureau director Mike Stuhr and I updated Council and the community about what our team is doing to deliver safe, clean, and reliable water to the region.

Protecting Salmon

My bureaus are working hard to restore salmon habitat in the Willamette River and our urban watersheds. The Crystal Springs Creek Restoration Project is a model public-private partnership. Because of our collective efforts, Portland is now the first certified salmon-safe city in the world.

Preparing for the “Big One”

The Water Bureau is preparing for future earthquakes by replacing and strengthening old pipes and storage tanks. In September, we broke ground on the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project. The new reservoirs will be buried underground and reinforced to the highest seismic standards. And soon we’ll start construction on the Willamette River Crossing Project, which will ensure uninterrupted water to west side homes and businesses.

Housing for All

While Portland continues to face a housing crisis, we made steady progress.

The Welcome Home Coalition helped pass a historic affordable housing bond. I played a leadership role, raising money and campaigning for it. This important new tool will fund safe, decent, and affordable homes for the most vulnerable people in our community.

I teamed up with Commissioner Dan Saltzman to require that all revenue from short-term rentals (like Airbnb) be dedicated to investments in housing for low-income Portlanders. I pushed for a significant increase in urban renewal funds to build affordable homes. And the Council unanimously adopted a historic inclusionary housing policy.

In 2017, we will focus on strengthening renter protections and expanding housing choice.

Helping Small Businesses Thrive

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. I’m proud to serve as the liaison to Venture Portland, which supports and advocates for our 50 neighborhood business districts. In our last budget, we invested in local businesses citywide and expanded our commitment to East Portland businesses.

Creating Jobs at Terminal 1

opposed a plan to turn Terminal 1 North—14 acres of prime industrial land owned by the Bureau of Environmental Services—into a mass shelter. After the deal fell through, we put the property back on the market. We now have an Oregon-based buyer and hope to finalize the sale soon. This sale will be a win-win-win: protecting scarce industrial land, creating family-wage jobs, and returning the proceeds to ratepayers.

More Sunshine at City Hall

Working with public interest groups, I sponsored new ethics reforms to strengthen transparency and accountability. Portland is now the second city in the nation to require “political consultants” to register and disclose their activities. The public has a right to know who’s influencing the decisions of their elected officials.

The Portland Utility Board and Citizens’ Utility Board continue to fulfill their promise of strong, independent oversight of our utilities.

And I supported Auditor Hull Caballero’s proposal to limit the “revolving door.” Now, when bureau directors and Commissioners’ staff leave City service, they must wait two years before returning as a lobbyist.

Arts: The Soul of a City

Portland is known for its vibrant arts community. Art, culture, and heritage are part of the soul of our city. As liaison to the Regional Arts and Culture Council, I issued my year-end report, highlighting the wins we achieved together, like expanding operating support for community-based arts organizations, and the challenges we face going forward.

A Portland for People of All Ages and Abilities

We continued to work with passionate community partners to make Portland a more welcoming place for people of all ages and abilities.

We made all single-stall restrooms in our parks and City buildings all-user. Commissioner Fritz and I hosted a ribbon-cutting at Dawson Park to celebrate the conversion of more than 600 restrooms. They are now accessible to everyone—older adults, parents with young children, people with personal attendants, and transgender individuals.

In October, I traveled to Chicago to speak at the AARP Livable Communities Conference. Along with partners from AARP Oregon, we discussed how Portland is building an age-friendly community and bringing more older adults into important conversations about the future of our city.

Local Heroes

Every year, we honor local heroes with Spirit of Portland awards. This year, I selected Rosa Parks Elementary Principal Tamala Newsome and Vanport Mosaic. They represent the very best of our community.

For 25 years, the Lowenstein Trust has recognized outstanding community leaders. This year’s award went to the Portland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. During the Council presentation, I thanked outgoing Board Chair Michelle Harper for her many years of service, and was humbled to be named an Honorary Trustee.

I continue to be inspired by educators in our community (including my wife Patricia!). This year, I spent time with Ms. Dana Absgarten, a 7th and 8th grade teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center, and with Margaret Calvert, an award-winning Principal at Jefferson High School. I saw, first-hand, how they positively impact our youth.

Standing in Solidarity

I am proud of all the Portlanders who are standing up against misogyny, racism, bigotry, and hatred in our community.

In October, I joined the community at the Muslim Educational Trust as we welcomed Khizr Khan to Oregon. He spoke eloquently about the idea of “equal dignity” under the law. Local business owners continue to display posters in their store windows, demonstrating solidarity with people of all races, religions, national origins, genders, and sexual orientations. And I participated in numerous peaceful vigils and rallies against hate and intolerance.

Happy Birthday, Governor Barbara Roberts

In December, I joined over 600 people at a celebration in honor of Governor Barbara Roberts’ 80th birthday. Over a lifetime of public service, she has been a champion for death with dignity, marriage equality, and reproductive freedom.

In her 1991 inaugural address, during another challenging period in our state’s history, Governor Roberts offered a clear vision and hope. She declared that “[we] will come out on the other side—stronger, better, more healthy, more diverse, more Oregon.”

And she challenged Oregonians to rise to the occasion. “For each generation has but one chance to be judged by future generations. And this is our time.”

Governor Roberts has inspired generations of people to pursue public service, especially young women leaders. I am proud to call her my friend, mentor, and role model.


It is an honor to serve on your City Council, to work with the talented professionals in my City Hall office and my bureaus, and to partner with Venture Portland, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and Elders in Action to make Portland a better place.

Thanks for all you do for our community!


Nick Fish

Preparing Washington Park for the "Big One" Portland Voters Say "Yes" to Affordable Homes
Celebrating 600 All-User Restrooms Happy 80th Birthday, Governor Roberts!
Salmon-Safe Portland Khizr Khan at the Muslim Educational Trust
Terminal 1 For Sale Nick and Rep. Bonamici Supporting Neighborhood Small Business

2016 Mid-Year Report

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to share my 2016 mid-year report with you.

The first six-months of 2016 have been marked by big changes, more senseless gun violence, and progress on many fronts. We elected a new Mayor, Ted Wheeler. I am looking forward to serving with him. We witnessed a terrible mass shooting in Orlando, targeting the LGBTQ community. Portland responded with love, not hate. And we are moving forward on many issues you and I care about.

A Balanced Budget

The Council passed a balanced budget for 2016-2017. It reflects my values—with significant new investments in affordable housing and homeless services, neighborhood small businesses, public safety, and safe streets and sidewalks. (I opposed raising new business taxes because we continue to enjoy healthy budget surpluses.)

Stabilizing Water and Sewer Rates

As Commissioner-in-Charge of our public utilities (Environmental Services and the Water Bureau), I once again directed my bureaus to keep the combined rate increase under 5%.  Working with our partners at the Portland Utility Board (PUB) and the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB), both bureaus delivered. 

We continue to focus on providing good value to our ratepayers and investing in basic services like replacing old pipes and preparing for the “Big One.” For example, we are moving forward with plans to fortify the Washington Park Reservoirs, which serve water to the west side of the city, including hospitals, homes and businesses.

And, we are moving forward with the sale of BES' "Terminal 1" property, 14 acres of Prime Industrial land along the river in Northwest Portland - and a key part of our family-wage jobs forecast for the next 20 years. 

More Sunshine at City Hall

I sponsored new ethics reforms, designed to strengthen transparency at City Hall. Portland is now the second city in the nation to require “political consultants” to register and disclose their activities.

And I co-sponsored the independent City Auditor's legislation to close the revolving door loophole and make it easier for the public to review elected officials' calendars.

All-User Restrooms

We made progress implementing the all-user restroom policy I sponsored in the fall. Our initial goal is to expand choice and options for everyone by converting about 600 single-stall restrooms to all-user restrooms by September. 

An Age-Friendly Portland

I secured new funding to support the important work PSU’s Institute on Aging is doing to implement our Age-Friendly Plan, participated in a Q&A with AARP, attended a forum at Terwilliger Plaza, and spoke at the annual awards dinner for Elders in Action.

Celebrating the Arts

As Arts Commissioner, I participated in a City Club of Portland Friday Forum, "Are the Arts Getting Squeezed Out?"; was interviewed by Jessica Rand of KMHD Jazz Radio about living "A Jazz Life"; and spoke at the inaugural Vanport Mosaic Festival, commemorating the 68th Anniversary of the Vanport flood.           

Recently I played a small role in “The Skin of our Teeth” at the ART and visited Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts in Pendleton, which showcases the work of Native American artists like James Lavadour and Rick Bartow.

And I was honored to receive the "Angel Award" from my friends Walter Jaffe and Paul King of White Bird. Their Nest program allows low-income families to experience the joy of modern dance.

Supporting Small Business

We celebrated the 30th birthday of Venture Portland, which advocates for our 50 neighborhood business districts. And, working with our partners, we secured additional funding for the East Portland Pilot Project, to build capacity in emerging Eastside business districts.

A Blueprint for Portland's Future

The Council completed work on the Comprehensive Plan, which will guide the growth of our city for the next 20 years. I am particularly pleased with the focus on housing affordability.

In June, I voted to refer a ballot measure asking our community to support a bond to fund development of new affordable homes. This will be a powerful new tool to address the housing and homelessness crisis facing our community, and I will be actively campaigning for it.


I wrote about what "Home" means to me for the Upper Left Edge, and “What I Learned About Health and Fitness from a Champion Bodybuilder" in the Lund Report.

Proudest Moment

My family spent the last year in Europe. This spring, I visited Patricia, Chapin and Maria in Cordoba, Spain, where we watched Chapin play soccer for his club team. He was named captain, and his team won! And Maria wrapped up a year on a Fulbright in Andorra. So proud of them.

Unsung Heroes

The volunteers with Elders in Action who serve as Personal Advocates for vulnerable older adults. They epitomize the "Spirit of Portland."

As always, it’s an honor to serve you on the City Council, to work with the talented professionals at our public utilities, and to partner with Venture Portland, the Regional Arts & Culture CouncilElders in Action, and Regional Solutions.

Thanks for all you do for our community!



Faubion Groundbreaking Ethics Reform
White Bird Angel Award Starlight Parade
Water Quality Report All-User Restrooms 



2015 Year in Review

As 2015 comes to a close, I’m pleased to share some of the highlights with you.

In January, I was sworn in for a new four-year term as your City Commissioner – thank you for the vote of confidence. In April, we said farewell to my friend Gretchen Kafoury, who taught us about the true meaning of public service.

It was a big year for our family. My daughter Maria graduated from college, and was awarded a Fulbright. My son Chapin is living his dream of playing youth soccer in Spain, and my wife Patty is re-tracing her mother Carmen’s steps in Andalucía and researching a new book during her well-deserved sabbatical.

Our country took an historic step forward on marriage equality. I had the honor of witnessing President Obama award the Medal of Honor posthumously to WWI hero Sgt. Henry Johnson. Portland “banned the box,” and I sponsored legislation to require all-user restrooms in City-owned buildings.

I fulfilled a pledge to bring more transparency to our public utilities: a new Portland Utility Board, a more robust public process for disposing of surplus City property, new Watershed Health Report Cards, and the first annual “State of Our Public Utilities,” published in Street Roots.

My bureaus are doing their part to protect our environment. Environmental Services (BES) invests in cost-effective green infrastructure, like trees and bioswales, and uses methane gas to fuel our generators and cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a leader in cleaning up the Willamette River and brownfields. The Water Bureau utilizes the power of water and the sun to generate energy, and now offers a monthly e-bill option. Green solutions are good for our environment and our ratepayers.

Click here to read my full year-end report for our two public utilities.

This year City Council stepped up to address our housing crisis. We declared a state of emergency and committed substantial new resources to shelters, homeless services and affordable homes. We supported new protections for renters, and strengthened our community partnerships. And we are committed to ending veterans’ homelessness, building on the success of Operation 305. 

I stood up for older adults, securing a grant to fund Age-Friendly Portland, and by working with our friends at Elders in Action, AARP Oregon, Multnomah County, and Portland State University. And I cried foul when consumers were run over by the so-called “sharing economy.”

I supported East Portland small businesses by securing a $100,000 grant and partnering with Venture Portland. Hacienda CDC opened the Portland Mercado, and the Jade District sponsored a second Night Market. We cheered Grimm on its 100th episode, and for the $250 million it has contributed to Oregon’s economy. And BES and the Bureau of Transportation teamed up to minimize disruption to residents and businesses during large-scale construction projects.

It was a banner year for arts and culture. We celebrated 35 years of our “Percent for Art” program, 20 years of outstanding leadership by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, and more arts education for children in our elementary schools.

Click here to read my full Arts & Culture report.

2015 was also marked by senseless violence – in Paris, Beirut, San Bernardino, and closer to home in Roseburg. I witnessed first-hand the toll gun violence is taking when I joined two Portland Police officers on the Gang Enforcement Team for a ride-along.

This year, I shared my thoughts on many local and national issues: preparing for the “Big One,” a level playing field for women’s soccer, challenging developers to step up during our housing crisis, the lessons I learned from my dad and Joe Biden, the steps our utilities are taking to protect our environment, why arts education matters, and the legacy of Barney Frank.

In spite of our progress, we continue to face many big challenges. Poverty. Income inequality and racial disparities. Climate change. Too many hungry children, homeless families, and people falling through the cracks. These challenges are not unique to Portland. But Portland has shown it can lead the nation on difficult issues, and I am confident that we will continue to tackle these challenges head-on.

And here is why I remain optimistic. All year long, I have been inspired by people rising to the occasion. “Spirit of Portland” award recipients Debbie Aiona and Bernie Foster. High school students debating the constitution in the We the People competition. Zenger Farm opening a new Urban Grange in East Portland. Mt. Tabor neighbors working with the Water Bureau to protect our historic reservoirs. A visionary principal and dedicated teachers at Glenfair Elementary School fighting to overcome the odds. Muslim Americans opening a new community center and school in Tigard, and faith leaders condemning religious bigotry. And long-time housing activists insisting that the City keep its promises in South Waterfront.

It is an honor to serve as your City Commissioner – and to lead the hardworking teams at the Portland Water Bureau, Bureau of Environmental Services, and my City Hall office.

Thank you for all you do.

A New Portland Utility Board Celebrating Marriage Equality
Justice for Sgt. Henry Johnson Portlandia Turns 30
New Leadership at PWB and BES Supporting Small Businesses in East Portland
A Resilient City: Willamette River Crossing Affordable Homes in South Waterfront
Our Historic Reservoirs: Finding Common Ground Grimm's 100th Episode
Age-Friendly Portland Crystal Springs Restoration Project


2015 Mid-Year Report

Published June 30, 2015

I'm pleased to share my mid-year report with you.

The Council adopted a balanced budget for 2015-16. The budget invests in basic services like roads and parks maintenance, supports small businesses and healthy neighborhoods, prioritizes funding for affordable housing, and continues to build strong community partnerships.

We strengthened transparency and accountability at City Hall. The Council unanimously approved my proposal for a new Portland Utility Board. I agreed with the Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon that Portland ratepayers should no longer subsidize developers’ fees. And I supported a proposal from the City Auditor and Ombudsman to make it easier for citizens to challenge City decisions.

As Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Water Bureau, I have learned that what's good for the environment is also good for our ratepayers.

We said goodbye to long-time housing advocate and former City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury, who passed away in March. Her legacy of service lives on through her daughter, County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

As always, it’s an honor to serve you on the City Council, to work with the talented professionals at our public utilities, and to partner with Venture Portland, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Portland'5, Elders in Action, and the Governor's Regional Solutions Team.

Unsung Heroes

Proudest Moments

  • Watching my daughter, Maria, graduate from college. This fall, she is heading to Europe on a Fulbright.
  • Witnessing President Obama posthumously award the Medal of Honor to WWI hero Sgt. Henry Johnson at a White House ceremony.
  • Celebrating marriage equality with the community after a landmark ruling by the United States Supreme Court.

Thanks for all you do for our community.

Crystal Springs Restored Monthly Utility Statements
are Here
Watershed Report Cards Investing in East Portland
Small Businesses
Arts Education Matters New Affordable Homes in
North Macadam
Justice for
Sergeant Henry Johnson

2015 Pride Parade:
Celebrating Equality

BES Director
Michael Jordan
HB 2700:
Expanding Access to Justice
Northwest Dance Project
Steps Out
Improving our
Surplus Property Policy


2014 Year in Review

2014 was marked by steady progress on many fronts.

My team continued the hard work of strengthening oversight and accountability at the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services.

We launched a Blue Ribbon Commission headed by former U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton, and they delivered a blueprint for meaningful reform. And we formalized a unique, independent role for the Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon.

I was pleased to support a balanced budget that invests in strong neighborhoods and small businesses, protects our safety net services, supports older adults and youth, and builds strong partnerships.

We grieved the loss of visionary parks leader, Charles Jordan; beloved former governor, Vic Atiyeh; local jazz legend, Linda Hornbuckle; and a colleague’s spouse, Dr. Steven Fritz.

Voters, by large margins, rejected a deeply flawed proposed takeover of our public utilities, and supported a $67 million Parks bond measure.

After a long struggle, Oregon finally achieved marriage equality!

Through it all, I have never been prouder of the men and women who work in my bureaus and serve our city every day.

I'd like to share some of my favorite highlights from the year:

Unsung Hero

Dan Weidinger, the Water Bureau's "Lone Ranger" assigned to patrol the Bull Run Watershed. This year, I prioritized funding to add a second full-time ranger, which will help us protect our precious resource.

Most Inspiring Moment

Judging the We The People competition, and celebrating the hard work and passion of the next generation of civic leaders.

Unsung Hero II

World War I hero and "Harlem Hellfighter" Sgt. Henry Johnson. After nearly a century, Congress passed a bill to award Sgt. Johnson the Medal of Honor. The only thing left that's needed to right this wrong is the President's signature.

As always, it is an honor to serve you on the City Council—and to work with so many inspiring people across our community.

Thanks for all that you do to make our city a better place.


Village Market:
Access to Healthy Food
Advocating for Older Adults
Salmon Return to Crystal Springs Portland Welcomes the MLS All-Star Game
Right Brain Learning
Makes a Difference

Investing in East Portland Jobs

& Small Businesses

Heroes During a Winter Storm

Southeast Division Street

Reopens for Business

Promoting the Creative Economy Celebrating with the Street Roots Family

A New Beginning for a

St. Johns Brownfield

Dawson Park Reborn