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Nick Fish

Commissioner, City of Portland

phone: 503-823-3589

Email: nick@portlandoregon.gov

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

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2017 Year in Review

December 21, 2017

Dear Friend,

I write to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and to share some highlights from this year.

We faced unprecedented challenges in 2017. But we also witnessed the best in Portlanders – working together to build a stronger community and a better city. As my friend Wajdi Said says, “we need more love and light in the town square.” I am proud of the progress we made together.

My Cancer Treatment
In August, I was diagnosed with abdominal cancer. As I have learned, the path forward is a marathon, not a sprint. Still, I am filled with gratitude. We're making great progress. I have excellent doctors and nurses at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute and practitioners at An Hao Clinic. And I have a loving family and strong support from the community.

Millions of Americans are fighting cancer and other chronic diseases every day. They all deserve our compassion and support.

A New Budget
Our 2017-18 budget invests in homelessness, family-wage jobs, safe streets, and East Portland. Mayor Wheeler deserves credit for leading a collaborative and transparent process.

Housing for All
During a storm last winter, Karen Lee Batts died of hypothermia in a downtown parking garage. A shelter only a couple blocks away had room for her. For many people on our streets, especially those who struggle with mental health crises and addiction, shelter or traditional affordable housing simply isn’t enough.

Supportive housing is a nationally-recognized solution that combines a safe and deeply affordable permanent home with intensive services. In October, the City and Multnomah County adopted a vision, which I helped lead, of adding 2,000 units of supportive housing in the next 10 years.

We have also taken other important actions to address the housing crisis: opening new shelter beds, funding new affordable housing developments, extending the housing state of emergency, enacting historic renter protections, and making record investments in the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

Our Clean and Green Future
My bureaus, Environmental Services and Water, are taking bold action to promote a healthy, sustainable city:

   - Celebrating the return of salmon to local creeks and designating Crystal Springs Creek Portland’s first Salmon Sanctuary.

   - Announcing a plan to convert 100% of the methane gas from our sewage treatment process into renewable energy. “Poop to Power” is a triple win – reducing greenhouse gas emissions, replacing dirty diesel fuel with clean natural gas, and delivering a profit for our ratepayers.

   - Approving a new tax incentive to help us clean up over 900 acres of brownfields.

In January, the EPA released its cleanup plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund site. We are committed to moving forward with implementing the Record of Decision. But recently, the City learned that several private parties have asked EPA to reconsider fundamental decisions and agreements. The move could potentially delay cleanup work by a decade or more. Mayor Wheeler and I wrote a letter calling for EPA to work with all stakeholders, not just a select few. EPA recently announced an improved agreement. Things are moving forward, and we’re keeping a close eye on the progress.

Protecting Water Quality and Affordability
Portland is fortunate to have an abundance of clean, safe, and reliable water. And we’re making long-term investments to maintain public health, safety, and affordability:

   - This year, we detected trace amounts of the micro-organism Cryptosporidium in the Bull Run Watershed. Although our water remains safe to drink, our state and federal regulators revoked our limited-term treatment variance – the only one in the country. After robust public input and careful consideration, Council unanimously decided to build a filtration facility. It’s an investment in our future, protecting our water system from challenges like climate change, a natural disaster, or future regulations.

   - Although our source water and distribution pipes are lead-free, some older homes have bad plumbing. We’re adjusting the pH of our water to keep lead from leaching out of bad pipes and faucets.

   - Some of our neighbors need a little extra help paying their utility bill. We’re working on a plan to expand our nationally-recognized financial assistance program.

   - And thanks to the Big Pipe, the Willamette River is cleaner than it’s been in decades. BES tested the water every week during the summer and the Mayor even went for a swim!

Good Government
At a time of declining public trust in many institutions, including government, it is important that we earn that trust every day:

   - We ask a lot of our citizen boards and commissions, and count on them for good advice. But we haven’t always given them the necessary tools to be successful. I led a reform effort to increase the transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of advisory bodies. It establishes long-overdue standards like mandatory disclosure of conflicts of interest, a uniform application, and robust training.

   - I strongly supported Measure 26-189, sponsored by Auditor Mary Hull Caballero. It increases the independence of the elected City Auditor and passed overwhelmingly in the May election.

A More Welcoming City
We reaffirmed our status as a Sanctuary Citysupporting our immigrants and refugees.

We stood up for our local DREAMers, demanding prompt action from Congress and funding a grant to the Oregon DACA Coalition to help offset the costs of DACA renewal. My newest staff member, Mariana Garcia Medina, herself a DREAMer, co-authored the resolution.

And I challenged the business community to convert their single-stall restrooms to all-user, removing an arbitrary and unnecessary barrier. Businesses eagerly stepped up and made their restrooms more accessible. And earlier today, we celebrated its successful completion!

Protecting Workers and Consumers
I continue to be concerned about the impact out-of-state technology companies – who refuse to play by our rules – have on consumers and workers.

Uber is a notoriously bad actor. They operated illegally, then tried to make an end run around Portland’s regulations. They hid a massive data breach for over a year. They attempted to strip workers of important rights. And it took a subpoena to get them to disclose how they evaded Portland regulators with “Greyball.” Next year, we will consider tougher regulations, including new ways to keep the public safe.

We are finalizing a registration system so the City knows who’s renting their home on Airbnb and HomeAway. It’s a simple way to make sure hosts have a business license and a working smoke detector.

And voters approved Measure 26-194, which I sponsored. It ensures that out-of-state companies like HomeAway pay the same lodging tax as a mom-and-pop bed and breakfast in St. Johns. A win for tax fairness.

Arts and Culture
I’m honored to serve as the City’s Arts Commissioner and liaison to the Regional Arts and Culture Council. This year brought a lot of changes to RACC and the arts in Portland:

   - The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the Arts Tax is constitutional. That’s great news for the over 30,000 Portland kids who will continue to have arts education in school.

   - We protected funding for Open Signal and the Portland Film Office in this year’s budget.

   - An iconic piece of Portland history and culture has returned! Thanks to Restore Oregon, the Jantzen Beach Carousel will one day have a permanent home.

   -  We’re working with the community to develop a plan for more affordable arts and performance spaces, which will increase economic activity and jobs.

   - RACC Executive Director Eloise Damrosch retired after a long and distinguished career. I will work closely with the next leader to advance Portland’s vision of a vibrant, accessible, and equitable creative economy.

   - At the request of Mayor Wheeler and me, Auditor Mary Hull Caballero is conducting the first-ever performance audit of RACC.

   - In 2012, the City established a Creative Laureate to serve as the official ambassador to the arts community. We will announce the next Creative Laureate in early January.

Supporting Small Businesses and Good Jobs
As the City’s liaison to Venture Portland, the support system for our 50 neighborhood business districts, I am working to strengthen local businesses and grow good-paying jobs:

   - Securing funding to continue a successful business incubator program in East and North Portland.

   - Selling Terminal 1 – preserving scarce industrial land, generating good family-wage jobs, and delivering a solid return for ratepayers.

   - Strongly supporting Community Benefits Agreements, which ensure that workers get high-road jobs and the training they need, while providing broader opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses.

Proud Moments
   - Working with the Mayor to eliminate the “48-hour rule,” a key part of our police reform agenda.

   - Launching a partnership with Project Search, providing opportunities at the City for people with disabilities.

   - Presenting SMYRC and the Muslim Educational Trust with Spirit of Portland Awards.

   - Celebrating Portland traditions like the Rose Festival and Veterans Day Parade.

   - Meeting former Vice President Joe Biden and hearing the deeply personal story of his son’s battle with cancer.

Above and Beyond
The Water Bureau Emergency Management Team. They stepped up during the Eagle Creek Fire to make sure our water supply was safe.

In Praise of Heroes
We honor the heroism of Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, three strangers who intervened on behalf of two young women who were being harassed on a MAX train. Two of these brave heroes paid the ultimate price.

In Memoriam
We recently lost former Mayor Vera Katz. I will never forget the time we spent together on the “Flight for Freedom” after 9/11. She spoke for all Oregonians, offering love and support for the people of New York. It was an honor to know Vera, and she leaves a lasting legacy.

Thank You
Everything we do at City Hall requires collaboration. I am grateful to my City Hall team led by Sonia Schmanski, the public servants who work for my bureaus, my Council colleagues, and Portlanders across our city for the progress we made this year.

Thank you for the honor of serving our City.

Sincerely,


Nick Fish

Music in City Hall

2017 Mid-Year Report

June 29, 2017

Nick at the 2017 Pride Parade

Dear Friend,

The first six months of 2017 were unprecedented.

A new Mayor and Commissioner. A new President. A surge in hate crimes. Disruptions at City Council. Resistance and progress.

At City Hall, I am working with the community to protect our values. At a time when we can’t count on leadership from Washington, I’m proud of our progress at the local level.

Response to Trump

President Trump wasted little time issuing illegal executive orders, proposing draconian budget cuts, and making executive appointments at odds with Portland values.

In response, the City Council took a number of important actions, including:

   • Adopting a “Sanctuary City” resolution – sending a message to Portland’s many diverse communities – you are welcome here.

   • And joining lawsuits challenging Trump’s “Muslim travel ban.”

I participated in numerous public forums, opposing the rising tide of hate and intolerance. My family proudly marched for women's rights.

And I authored an essay, published in Street Roots, defending funding for Legal Services.

Portland Heroes

In May, a savage attack on a MAX train left two dead and one injured. As our community grieved, we also celebrated the heroism of three Good Samaritans: Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher. I was honored to attend the celebration of Rick’s life and service.

A Progressive Budget

Council adopted a new budget to guide our work in 2017-18. The process, led by Mayor Wheeler, was collaborative and inclusive.

The budget funds many of my priorities, including:

   • Basic infrastructure

   • New tools to address our housing crisis

   • Venture Portland, the Portland Film Office, Open Signal, Village Market, and the Rose Festival

   • Vision Zero

   • East Portland equity

And, for the fourth year in a row, we adopted responsible utility rates, continuing to prioritize basic services and preparations for the “Big One.”

Housing for All

Council took a number of key actions to address the housing crisis, including:

   • Allocating over $26 million to the Joint Office for Homelessness.

   • Appointing an oversight body for the recently-passed Housing Bond. My appointee was Todd Struble, a leader with APANO and the Jade District.

   • Adopting landmark renter relocation assistance, to help soften the blow when renters are displaced because of a no-cause eviction or an excessive rent increase.

   • Establishing a $2 surcharge on short-term rentals to fund affordable housing.

   • Working with community partners to provide more affordable and accessible housing for older adults.

   • Creating an “Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs.”

   • Lobbying the State Legislature for two key reforms: an end to no-cause evictions, and lifting the pre-emption on rent stabilization.

And I continue to push for more resources to fund “permanent supportive housing” – affordable homes with the services low-income adults and families need to be successful.

Our Clean and Green Future

The Council took bold action to combat climate change and support a clean energy future. On the day that President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, we adopted a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Mayor Wheeler and I are leading the City’s efforts to clean up the Willamette River. While changes at the EPA pose significant risks to our environment, we are committed to engaging all of our stakeholders and moving the Superfund process forward.

And, our public utilities are doing their part. We're planning for the future by making cost-effective investments in resilience, energy-efficiency, and green infrastructure.

“Poop to Power”

BES announced an innovative plan to convert 100% of the methane gas from our sewage treatment process into renewable energy. The result is a triple win. We'll reduce greenhouse gas emissions, replace dirty diesel fuel with clean natural gas, and deliver a profit for our ratepayers.

Hannah Mason Pump Station

The Water Bureau dedicated a new pump station in Willamette Park. The Hannah Mason Pump Station is built to survive the “Big One.” And working with the Energy Trust of Oregon, it will save ratepayers $160,000 a year in energy costs.

Green Streets, Bioswales, and Urban Watersheds

In every corner of our city, volunteers help BES make our city cleaner and greener. From Green Street Stewards, who plant new vegetation and remove sediment from bioswales, to community partners who care for our urban watersheds. Together, we’re making Portland a healthier city and bringing salmon back to our neighborhoods.

Protecting Water Quality

Portland is fortunate to have an abundance of clean, safe, and reliable water. Working with our state and federal regulators, we are making long-term investments in public health and safety.

This winter, following heavy rains, we detected trace amounts of the parasite Cryptosporidium in the Bull Run Watershed. As a result, the Oregon Health Authority revoked our limited-term treatment variance—the only variance granted to an open-source water system in the country. Council is considering a number of options.

We are also working with our regulators to reduce exposure to lead. While our source water and distribution pipes are lead-free, our water passes through bad plumbing fixtures in some “high-risk” homes. We are planning to adjust the pH of our water to make it less corrosive.

Good Government

By strengthening accountability and transparency in government, we build public trust.

I strongly supported Measure 26-189, sponsored by Auditor Mary Hull Caballero. It increases the independence of the elected City Auditor and passed overwhelmingly in the May election.

We ask a lot of our citizen boards and commissions, and count on them for good advice. But too often we do not give them the tools to be successful. That’s why I am leading a reform effort, including mandatory disclosure of conflicts of interest and robust training to support these community volunteers.

Protecting Consumers

When bad actors in the so-called “sharing economy” refuse to play by the rules, I have been standing up for consumers.

I sponsored Measure 26-194 in the May election. It passed with 62% of the vote, and authorizes the Council require internet companies like HomeAway to pay the lodging tax so everyone is taxed fairly.

Commissioner Saltzman and I demanded that Uber turn over information about their use of technology to evade regulators. When they failed to do so, the Council issued a subpoena for the documents.

And because we have a duty to ensure that guests are safe, I am also working with the City Attorney to require companies like Airbnb to disclose the names and addresses of their hosts.

Supporting our Local Small Businesses

I serve as Council liaison to Venture Portland, the umbrella organization for our 50 neighborhood business districts.

This year’s budget continues funding for a successful program we launched to strengthen local small businesses in East and North Portland.

And I worked with local business leaders on important issues in our community, holding roundtable discussions with neighborhood business leaders, launching the “All-User Challenge,” and – after the winter storms hammered our local small businesses – writing an essay to encourage people to show the love and shop local on Valentine’s Day.

Arts and Culture

I’m passionate about arts and culture, and proud to serve as Council liaison to the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC). Here are a few highlights:

   • Executive Director Eloise Damrosch announced her retirement, after 30 years of exemplary service to our community.

   • Over 30,000 kids benefit from the Arts Tax. The Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments on the sixth and final legal challenge; a decision is expected later this year.

   • The Mayor and I requested a performance audit of RACC – the first in its history.

   • Council celebrated the 25th anniversary of Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, a leading center for Native American art.

   • And the community celebrated the sixth and final season of Grimm with a tree planting in Pier Park.

Portland Rose Festival

This year, Mayor Wheeler asked me to serve as liaison to the Rose Festival, the City’s official festival.

We executed an official agreement with the Rose Festival, and secured a $100,000 grant to support their work. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade Committee, and I participated in the Starlight Parade.

New Faces on the Fish Team

We welcomed a number of new staff members, and said thank you to others.

Amira Streeter and Todd Lofgren joined our team. Amira, a graduate of Lewis and Clark law school, will focus on Superfund, community development, and citywide policy issues. Todd, who previously worked for Parks, will serve as my liaison to both public utilities.

Jim Blackwood retired after nearly eight years of public service. He worked on many important initiatives, like new oversight bodies for our utilities. And Liam Frost transitioned to the Water Bureau, where he will work on priority projects like expanding the low-income discount program.

The decline in civility in the public square hit City Hall hard. We have witnessed frequent protests, disruptions, and threatening behavior. For some City Hall staffers, it has created a hostile work environment. I am proud of Asena Lawrence for speaking up, including in this piece by Amelia Templeton on OPB.

Thank You

As always, I am honored to serve on your City Council.

Thank you for what you do to make Portland a better place.

Sincerely,

Nick Fish

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:

Changes

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.

Closing

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!

Sincerely,

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.

Essays

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!

Sincerely,

Nick

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