Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View More

NEWS ADVISORY: Com. Novick and local leaders highlight recent Vision Zero, transportation safety improvements in East Portland and call for increased caution by all road-users

(April 5th, 2016)— Transportation Commissioner Novick, Representatives Fagan, Reardon, and Vega Pederson and East Portland leaders join the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Portland Police Bureau for a crosswalk education and enforcement action at the intersection of 151st Avenue and SE Stark on Thursday, April 7th, 2016 at 9:00 AM.

The action will highlight the completion of several East Portland crossing improvements. The site is one of 16 rapid flash beacons newly constructed and activated in East Portland. Planning, design, and construction was made possible with $1.9 million secured by Representative Fagan and her legislative colleagues in the 2014 legislative session.

“As Commissioner in Charge of the Bureau of Transportation, safety is my highest priority,” says Commissioner Novick. “Every Portlander deserves a safe way to walk or bike to school or work. By partnering with our legislative leaders and local advocates, like the East Portland Action Plan, we’re able to leverage resources and prioritize new safety improvements that will make crossing the street safer and easier. We also need individuals to take personal action by remaining attentive to all users of our streets.”

PBOT encourages everyone to exercise care and caution when walking, biking and driving. Both drivers and pedestrians should remain alert and watch for people in crossings and drivers that may be turning onto or from 151st Avenue. Each crosswalk education and enforcement action involves a pedestrian decoy positioned at an unmarked, or in this case, marked crosswalk while police monitor how people driving, biking and walking adhere to traffic safety laws. Drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk or pedestrians who jaywalk may be issued a warning or citation by the Portland Police Bureau.

Education and enforcement actions are a key part of the City of Portland’s citywide effort to reach its Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries. During the education and enforcement action, police officers and PBOT staff will remind drivers to stop appropriately for pedestrians in the crossing and encourage people walking to cross at the corner and, when available, utilize rapid flash beacons to alert drivers to yield to pedestrians.

Following the crosswalk education and enforcement action, Commissioner Novick will be joined by Representatives Fagan, Reardon, and Vega Pederson for a press conference beginning at 9:30 AM. Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat will participate in the press event. Also joining will be Linda Bauer, current co-chair of East Portland Action Plan’s (EPAP) Land Use and Transportation Committee (LUTC), long time advocates for the safety improvements. The project implements safety improvement recommendations from the East Portland in Motion (EPIM) Plan, which the East Portland Action Plan strongly advocated for. Invited guests also include Oregon Walks and Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets.

The new rapid flash beacons come a year after the City of Portland adopted Vision Zero, a traffic safety initiative that rejects the notion that traffic crashes are simply “accidents,” but instead preventable incidents that can and must be systematically addressed.

Crosswalk education and enforcement actions are an effective way to communicate traffic laws to people driving, walking and biking. The transportation and police bureaus conduct education and enforcement actions throughout the year in response to requests by community members, city traffic safety engineers, and Portland Police to educate the general public on the rules at marked and unmarked crossings.

To find out more about PBOT's safety work and Vision Zero initiative-- PBOT's goal of making our transportation system the safest possible and moving towards zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2025-- visit www.visionzeroportland.com. There, you can learn more about rights and responsibilities for safely crossing a street and view the results of previous crossing education and enforcement actions

Contact: Bryan Hockaday
Office of Commissioner Novick
Bryan.hockaday@portlandoregon.gov
Office: 503-823-8701

###

City of Portland looking for your views on the Portland Harbor Superfund site cleanup

Next month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will announce a proposed plan to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site in the Willamette River north of downtown Portland, a process that will affect all Portlanders.

Once the proposed plan is released, the City will submit a formal response. In preparation for that response, the City wants to hear from you. Please take a moment to share and your priorities and values for the cleanup of the Portland Harbor site through an online survey at Oregon’s Kitchen Table.

This anonymous survey, developed with the help of key stakeholders, is your opportunity to share what you value most about the cleanup. The survey will be open through March 31. After it closes, responses will be compiled by Oregon’s Kitchen Table, and results will be shared with the community later this spring.

If you can’t take the online survey, you can call Sarah Giles at 503-725-5248 to request a hard copy to fill out and return. The survey is available in five languages.

After the survey closes, the public will also be able to participate in EPA’s public comment period this spring. EPA’s record of decision, the final cleanup plan, is expected this December.

BOEC dispatcher wins funding to help sick and injured animals

Virginia Krakowiak, a senior dispatcher at the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), answers 9-1-1 calls and sends fire, police, and medical first responders to help people. BOEC calltakers also regularly receive concerned calls about sick or injured animals. Krakowiak noticed that she and other 9-1-1 staff have very limited options for these calls, and she recognized another opportunity to help. She developed a successful proposal for the City’s Innovation Fund to create OCCRA: On Call Community Rescue for Animals. Today, City Council approved the $20,000 proposal. As Commissioner in charge of BOEC, I am thrilled to congratulate Virginia on her successful application to the City’s Innovation Fund. Her commitment to BOEC and helping sick and injured animals exemplifies the best of public service.

Today, when someone calls 9-1-1 because they see a sick or injured animal, they are told to contact Multnomah County Animal Control from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outside of those hours, there aren’t any resources available to help wild animals unless the animal is causing a road hazard or the individual is willing to pay out of pocket for a private contractor to respond. Krakowiak’s proposal addresses this problem by engaging a network of trained volunteers who respond to injured or lost wild animals, provide care to animals, and provide transport to appropriate rescue, shelter, or sanctuary. The twelve month, $20,000 grant will pay for pagers; rescue kits, crates and other similar equipment; and volunteer medical insurance coverage, as well as training. Because of this proposal, 9-1-1 dispatchers will be able to advise callers to contact OCCRA rather than law enforcement or animal control anytime between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.

It’s anticipated that the proposal will save law enforcement time and money because people will no longer request police response for calls about sick and injured wild animals. Krakowiak will voluntarily organize and run the program outside of her work hours. OCCRA will be available when equipment has been purchased and volunteers have been trained. Krakowiak has consulted Multnomah County Animal Services, Oregon Humane Society, and Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital about this proposal.

If you are interested in volunteering for OCCRA, please contact Virginia.Krakowiak@portlandoregon.gov.

Partnerships key to preparing for 'The Big One'

A recent guest column in The Oregonian/OregonLive questioned the City of Portland’s efforts to encourage residents to seismically retrofit their homes. I couldn’t disagree more.

For nearly a century and a half following Portland’s founding in 1851, residents remained blissfully unaware of the seismic danger to the region lurking off the Oregon coast. Homes and businesses, roads and bridges were constructed without a catastrophic Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake in mind. In the 1970s and 80s, this changed as scientists increased their understanding of the danger and building codes began to catch up. And thanks to the widely-read article in The New Yorker last summer, Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Unprepared” series, and the efforts of scientists and emergency managers, the public is now more aware than ever that Portland is in earthquake country. Unfortunately the bulk of Portland’s building stock remains vulnerable to a major seismic event.

Getting our built infrastructure ready for the “Big One” requires approaching the issue on many fronts. We should look to adopting new policies and leveraging resources wherever they can be found, driven by a singular goal: saving lives when the ground starts shaking, and getting Portland up and running again as quickly as possible.

Key to achieving this outcome is ensuring Portland homes are safe and livable after a quake. There are an estimated 100,000 older single-family homes in the city limits built prior to 1974 potentially vulnerable and in need of a seismic retrofit. If residents are unable to stay in their homes, there is a legitimate concern they will be forced to move away in a disaster, as happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Although some can afford the typical $3,000-$8,000 retrofit cost, many cannot. The Oregon Resilience Plan– Oregon’s 50-year roadmap to prepare for a Cacsadia quake –identifies this issue and recommends the adoption of programs and incentives to encourage homeowners to retrofit their homes.

Last week, I was pleased to announce that Portland received a $500,000 FEMA pre-disaster mitigation grant, thanks in part to the efforts of Congressman Earl Blumenauer and the other members of Portland’s federal delegation. We are fortunate to receive the award – in 2015, only $11 million was available nationally on a competitive basis. Fortunately, this pre-disaster competitive grant funding was increased to around $50 million in 2016, and I—along with Emergency Management Director Carmen Merlo— will go after every penny of available pre-disaster FEMA resources to help strengthen Portland’s natural and built infrastructure, including homes, businesses and institutions.

Building on a successful partnership between the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) and Enhabit (formerly Clean Energy Works), the pre-disaster grant funds will be available to fund some of the retrofit costs for 150 homeowners. These funds have long-term benefits not just to individuals (by improving the safety and resilience of their homes), but also to the City at large by increasing the number of residents able to remain in Portland after a quake and to FEMA by reducing the amount of money needed for disaster recovery. Ensuring a robust inventory of retrofitted homes is important in a region where housing is already in short supply. Unless we take action, an earthquake could exacerbate our existing housing crisis and force residents to move away.

Portland also needs to address the danger posed by nearly 1,800 unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs), often made of brick. URMs define the character and culture of many of our neighborhoods and business districts. Unfortunately they are also extremely vulnerable to seismic activity. My office has been working with PBEM, Portland Bureau of Development Services, Portland Development Commission, and other community stakeholders to come up with a mandatory URM retrofit policy to keep Portlanders safe, and also consider the historic nature of these buildings. Our neighbors in California have already taken on this problem; it is now time for us to do the same. I look forward to bringing a policy forward for Council to consider in the summer.

Although an enormous amount of work is still needed to prepare us for disaster, we now clearly understand the risk. Every structure built today is engineered for the Cascadia quake. Over time our infrastructure will gradually improve as buildings are upgraded and replaced. But the legacy of 150 years of construction still remains with us today. While we grapple with many important and pressing issues, we must also prioritize investments in Portland’s future by taking actions now to prepare for an earthquake.

Resilience should be seen as the ultimate indicator of Portland’s sustainability. I will continue to seek funding to help keep Portland standing strong after the Big One and continue this program to make it easier for Portlanders to retrofit their homes – especially those unable to pay the entire cost.

Fair Workweek: Stories from roundtable discussion and next steps

In Portland, we have set the example for rest of Oregon when it comes to progressive, worker-friendly labor policies. Portland has led the state with paid sick leave and paid family leave adopted policies, putting pressure on the State Legislature to prioritize similar statewide policies. Oregon also passed a much needed increase to the minimum wage. At $14.75 by 2022, Oregon will have the highest minimum wage in the nation. As we increase the minimum wage, however, we also have to look at other ways to ensure low wage workers can get a full paycheck and tolerable working condition. 

A few years ago, I first started reading about the terrible problems that new scheduling software has created for many workers, especially retail and restaurant employees. The software—now commonly used by many national franchises— is hailed by company execs for its ability to keenly manage workers’ schedules to keep payroll expenses and overhead low. However, these automated computer programs often schedule people for random shifts and then notify workers at the last minute, making it impossible for them to organize their lives, or to have any flexibility to arrange child care and attend college classes.

After learning about these practices, I wondered if Portlanders were also experiencing these same abuses and began researching to find out. Working with my friends at UFCW Local 555 and the Working Families Party of Oregon, we began doing outreach to workers to identify what exactly workers are facing locally.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with several low wage workers from the retail, hospitality, and service sectors of Portland’s workforce. These workers shared heartbreaking stories of their experiences with unpredictable scheduling practices. Some workers shared stories of being away from their children due to unpredictable double shifts; others shared stories about retaliation by employers after asking for a schedule that fits with their other job or college courses.

After getting the permission from a few of these workers, I’d like to share these compelling stories of Portlanders experiencing unfair work schedules (names have been changed to protect the privacy of those who shared their stories):

AMANDA

Amanda got a job at a coffee shop after fleeing an abusive relationship. She had an option under victim protection to either keep her apartment or get out of the lease, and Amanda decided to stay there, but she had to have a second job to afford it. The coffee shop promised her a morning shift during the week. Amanda already had a job at a hotel, and she needed the second job at the coffee shop so she could make enough money to afford the apartment and other living expenses.

Working two jobs was very difficult in part because the job at the coffee shop promised her one schedule, but when she began working, that schedule immediately changed. For a while, she couldn’t take many shifts at her hotel job because her coffee shop shifts ended at the same time she would have needed to start at the hotel, leaving no commute time.

Amanda also said she’d give the hotel her availability, actually get scheduled for hours, and then the coffee shop would change the schedule on her all of sudden – creating conflicts. Later, the coffee shop changed her schedule so she started at 3:30 a.m., and she was able to work more hours at the hotel. While she was glad to be able to earn more, this meant she worked very long days with only three or four hours of rest for up to three days at a time.

She says that when she finally had a day off, she started setting an automatic alarm clock every morning because she would sometimes lay down for a nap and end up sleeping for hours. Amanda held these two jobs for two years and was glad to be able to quit the coffee shop job when her living situation changed – but she still struggles to pay her rent when she doesn’t get as many hours at the hotel as she needs.

PATRICK

Patrick is a single parent of a two year old girl named Jennifer, who is, he says, the love of his life. He’s worked as a driver-helper on a really tight schedule for about two years for a company that caters flights at the airport. Driver-helpers are under a lot of pressure to keep flights on time, because every minute a flight is delayed costs the company money. Patrick normally works 10 hour days, 5 days a week, 50 hours a week or more. He’s even worked up to 76 hours in a week.

One day, Patrick had just gotten off a shift at 3:00pm when he was stopped by a manger.

She said, “I need to talk to you.”

Patrick said, “What did I do now?”

She said, “It’s not like that.”

Even though she had said that, Patrick still felt defensive. She told him he was going to take over a new shift.

He asked her, “Starting when?” and she said, “Tomorrow morning at 6:00am.”

Patrick asked her, “Were you even going to tell me?”

She replied, “I’d figure you’d say yes anyways.”

Even though Patrick had already worked a 12-hour day— starting at 1am getting off at 3pm— Patrick was supposed to be back at work at 6am and needed to take care of his daughter. The next morning, he woke up late and still worked an 8-hour shift. The manager wrote him up for oversleeping. This has happened to Patrick seven other times.

Whatever the team needs, Patrick does. He’s a selfless and hardworking employee, but his work ethic sometimes hurts Patrick’s personal life. He misses his little girl, and his bowling game suffers. Most of all, he just doesn’t get enough rest. Patrick is tired all the time. When he does get a day off, it takes him a whole day just to recover before having to go back to work. If he could wave a magic wand, he’d change this to be treated fairly and like a person— a person who has a family and a life outside of work.

SARAH

Sarah, a Certified Nursing Assistant in Portland, averages thirty-two hours of work a week. However, those hours are unpredictably scheduled, and she’s expected to maintain open availability to work additional hours. She often has less than 24 hours’ notice of her schedule, and it is not uncommon for Sarah to arrive to work only to be turned away.

Sarah’s unpredictable schedule has major impacts on her family. She and her husband struggle with childcare and with spending quality family time with each other. They are constantly anxious about getting scheduled at the same time and before the daycare center opens. She and her husband have even been written up at work because without adequate notice of their schedules, they did not have enough time to coordinate childcare and were late to work because they had to wait for the daycare center opens to drop off their daughter.

Sarah loves her family. She wishes she had to more time with them. When she is not working she is often sleep deprived and feels like she has to choose between getting one or two hours of sleep or spending time with her daughter.

These are just three of the outrageous and incredibly powerful stories I heard last week. If you have experienced similar challenges with your work schedule, I encourage you to share your story.

Fair workweek laws are one strategy we must consider to move us toward better worker protections. If a worker is scheduled for a shift and is sent home at the last minute, the employee should be compensated - it's their time, and it's that simple. Currently, the Legislature has preempted cities from adopting any laws related to employee scheduling through July 2017 in order to attempt to pass a statewide bill during the 2017 session. I'll be watching Salem closely, and I hope they are able to pass a strong statewide bill in 2017.