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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

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NEWS RELEASE: Novick Endorses Advisory Vote Proposal

January 7, 2015– Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick joined Mayor Hales in endorsing the concept of sending several different transportation funding concepts to the May ballot for an advisory vote.

Commissioner Novick stated, “My concern about a public vote has been that I know that most Portlanders agree we need more money for transportation, but I’m not sure a majority can agree on any particular solution. There are people, however, who believe passionately that their favorite option would get a majority if it only went to a vote. This gives people an opportunity to campaign for their favorite options. For example, Messrs. Robert McCullough and Eric Fruits can campaign for their favorite, the gas tax. The Oregonian editorial board can campaign for its favorite, the property tax. The progressive groups, such as AARP, Oregon Walks, and the Coalition for a Livable Future, can campaign for their favorite – and my favorite too – a progressive income tax.”

Novick added that a constituent suggested the advisory vote idea in an email a few months ago. “I told her at the time it was an intriguing idea,” he said.

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Novick announces two-part strategy to fund safety and maintenance

As a year of debate over city transportation funding draws to a close, City Commissioner Steve Novick today announced a two-part strategy to ensure funding for transportation maintenance and safety priorities.

“We are proposing a revised residential user fee, with a hearing on January 8 at 6 p.m. and a vote scheduled for January 14. If that fails, either in Council or through a subsequent referral to the ballot, we will prepare to campaign for a progressive income tax in 2016,” Novick said. The proposed non-residential fee is unchanged.

The proposed user fee will vary by income, based on national statistics showing the extent to which gasoline consumption varies by income quintile. “Gasoline use is one proxy for ‘road use,’ and gasoline use varies somewhat by income level,” Novick said.

Under the proposed fee, residents in the lowest fifth of the income distribution would pay $3 a month; filers in the second fifth would pay $5 a month; residents in the middle fifth would pay $7.45 a month; residents in the second-highest fifth would pay $9 a month; and filers in the top fifth would pay $12 a month. The fee is projected to raise $23 million per year.

If the user fee fails, Novick said, he plans to propose a progressive income tax to be sent to the ballot in May or November of 2016. “What I would propose is an income tax that, for married filers, exempts the first $35,000 in income, and then applies graduated rates as follows: one-tenth of one percent of income between $35,000 and $60,000; two-tenths of one percent of income between $60,000 and $100,000; three-tenths of one percent of income between $100,000 and $250,000; and four-tenths of one percent of income above $250,000.” Such a tax is also projected to raise $23 million a year. That proposal includes a $5000 per dependent deduction and is tax deductible on the state and federal returns.

“My personal preference is for a progressive income tax, which is also the most popular option among Portlanders generally. But pursuing that option would involve a campaign that would not end until at least May, and possibly November of 2016 – which means postponing actual work to repair streets and make them safer. As the Mayor and I have repeatedly said, the longer we wait, the worse the problem gets. It seems possible that we could pass a user fee in Council that would not require a campaign, which would mean that we could get to work much sooner,” Novick said.

Table 1 shows the monthly fee that would be charged under the Residential Transportation User Fee. This proposal will be presented to the City Council at a public hearing Jan. 8.

Table 2 shows the monthly charge estimated for a residential income tax that may be introduced to voters if the Residential Transportation User Fee proposal is not approved.

Table 1: Residential Transportation User Fee proposal

Annual Income Range

Average Annual Gas Spending

Monthly Fee

≤$13,000

$1,231

$3.00

>$13,000 - $27,000

$1,850

$5.00

>$27,000 - $46,000

$2,622

$7.45

>$46,000 - $82,000

$3,284

$9.00

>$82,000

$4,071

$12.00

Notes: Income ranges apply to single filers and married or joint filers. Average Annual Gas Spending is based on national averages calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics..

Table 2: Residential Income Tax proposal

Annual Income Range

Annual Transportation Income Tax Rate

Annual Income Examples for Couples Filing Jointly

Examples of Income Tax Per Income Example

$0 - $35,000

Exempt

$35,000

Exempt

$35,000 - $60,000

1/10 of 1%

$50,000

$1

$60,000 - $100,000

2/10 of 1%

$80,000

$5

$100,000 - $250,000

3/10 of 1%

$100,000

$9

> $250,000

4/10 of 1%

$300,000

$63

Notes: A $5,000 deduction per dependent would reduce tax bill. Income ranges apply to single filers and married or joint filers, based on Adjusted Gross Income. Average Annual Gas Spending is based on national averages calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

January 8, 2015 Council Documents:

Council extends Do-Not-Buy List, maintaining policy of no new investments in Wal-Mart

Today, Council unanimously adopted two resolutions (Agenda Items #1300 and #1301) to ensure the City puts our money where our mouth is by aligning our investment decisions about corporate bonds with Portland values. 

I was surprised to learn last year that the City did not include any social or values criteria for our investment decisions. I was even more surprised to learn that the City had invested in Wal-Mart, a company that has a well-documented and troubling history of abusive labor practices, corporate corruption, and exercise of market power so as to disrupt normal competitive market forces. As a public entity, we have a responsibility not to loan taxpayer dollars to those companies that seriously violate these and the other core principles.

Two resolutions in October 2013 for the first time established social and values criteria for the City's investments. Today, we extended that commitment.

The first resolution Council adopted today renews our current Do-Not-Buy List, ensuring the City will not purchase any new Wal-Mart bonds through December 2015. Wal-Mart belongs on this list because:

  • For example, in the area of labor practices, Wal-Mart continues to resist campaigns to provide Wal-Mart employees better wages, benefits, and other protections.
  • Just this month, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Wal-Mart managers in California had illegally disciplined workers for going on strike and threatened to close a store if many of its employees joined the advocacy group OUR Wal-Mart.
  • In the area of corporate ethics and governance, the New York Times published the results of an investigation into a Wal-Mart de Mexico scheme to bribe local government officials in Mexico in exchange for fast-tracking development permits.
  • Wal-Mart also uses its market dominance to disrupt normal market forces, as detailed in the book The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman
  • Council also passed a resolution today establishing a permanent standing Socially Responsible Investments Committee. This new committee of volunteers is charged with reviewing the City's investments and the principles established by Council and recommending which companies we should add to - or remove from - the Do-Not-Buy List.

The resolution also directs the City to purchase a subscription for company-specific research reports specifically designed to support investor decisions about social- and values-based investment. These reports often include composite scoring that weighs the relative importance of individual issues and criteria. The samples I have seen are impressively thorough.

The committee's work will not be easy. The members, who will be appointed by the City Council, will need to use their best judgment to draw on the research and make recommendations about which companies should go on the Do-Not-Buy List. They must take a balanced approach, considering a company's practices as a whole rather than a single incident or issue.

There isn't a perfect Do-Not-Buy List for the City of Portland. Reasonable people may disagree about which companies should land on the list. This is, however, a community conversation that we should be having, and that is what the permanent committee process allows us to do. I know that my colleagues and I will appoint committee members who are up to the task, and I look forward to our next steps.

Commissioner Steve Novick

 

Portland Street Fund Amendment: Cap and Exemption for Some Small Businesses

In response to feedback and ideas from the public, Commissioner Steve Novick plans to propose an amendment to the Portland Street Fund program to exempt some very small businesses from the fee and to cap the fee paid by others. The work group that developed the non-residential proposal discussed exempting or capping the fee for the smallest businesses but did not include either an exemption or a cap.

This amendment to the proposed Portland Street Fund program would provide relief for small businesses that earn less than $50,000 in annual gross revenue. Home-based businesses that have less than $50,000 in gross revenue would be exempt and pay nothing under the proposal, while all other businesses with gross revenue under $50,000 would pay $3 per month.

These new elements of the Non-Residential Transportation Fee help to ensure that it does not overburden micro businesses, which are characteristic of Portland’s unique local economy. For example, Commissioner Novick received an e-mail from Jane Staugas, who told him the proposed Non-Residential Transportation Fee would have a significant effect on her recently-launched business, Bridgetown Bow Ties. Staugas makes handmade ties in her home and sells them online. She has registered her business through the Oregon Secretary of State and the City’s business license division. She was dismayed to learn she would need to pay an estimated $180/year under the Portland Street Fund proposal introduced last month. The amendment that will be offered this week would exempt Bridgetown Bow Ties and other home-based businesses that earn less than $50,000 gross revenue annually from the Non-Residential Transportation Fee.

The amendment is estimated to reduce revenue collected through the Non-Residential Transportation program by $2.19 million annually and would require one additional staff person at the City’s Revenue Division.

City Council will consider the amendment at its meeting on Wednesday, December 10. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting and provide public testimony about this amendment. Additionally, written testimony may be submitted to ourstreetspdx@portlandoregon.gov.

City of Portland sues Uber for operating illegal, unregulated transportation service

The City of Portland has filed suit against Uber Technologies Inc. in Multnomah County Circuit Court, after documenting that the California-based company started operating private-for hire transportation services in the city.

The lawsuit seeks declaratory relief that Uber is subject to and in violation of the City of Portland’s Private for Hire Transportation Regulations and Administrative Rules. The City’s lawsuit is asking for a declaration by the court that Uber is subject to the City’s regulations. The lawsuit also asks the Court to order Uber to stop operating in Portland until it is in compliance with the City’s safety, health and consumer protection rules.

Transportation Director Leah Treat on Monday morning issued a Cease and Desist Order to Uber. The order was cited in the lawsuit.

“I am hereby directing that Uber Technologies Inc…. or any other Uber affiliate entity immediately cease and desist operating within the City of Portland until such time as appropriate permits are obtained and Uber is in full compliance with the requirements of Portland City Code Chapter 16.40,” Treat wrote. “Please alert all Uber-affiliated drivers that they are to cease and desist.”

“Our main concern is public health and safety, because the state invested in the cities the responsibility to do that,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Beyond that, though, is the issue of fairness. Taxi cab companies follow rules on public health and safety. So do hotels and restaurants and construction companies and scores of other service providers. Because everyone agrees: good regulations make for a safer community. Uber disagrees, so we’re seeking a court injunction.”

City Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees PBOT, said the City is prepared to issue civil and criminal penalties against Uber and its drivers for operating without required permits and inspections. The City of Portland requires permits for drivers and companies that offer taxi or executive sedan service within the city limits.

“If Uber thinks there should be no maximum price on what they charge Portlanders, they should make their case to the Portland City Council,” Novick said. “If Uber thinks taxi companies shouldn’t have to serve people with disabilities, they should make their case. If Uber thinks taxis should not have to have proper insurance in case of a crash, they should tell us why we should allow that.”

Uber drivers accepted and then later cancelled two rides requested by Portland Bureau of Transportation enforcement officials on Friday night. Uber drivers provided three rides to City enforcement officials on Saturday night. Uber has widely publicized that it was operating in Portland over the weekend.

The Transportation Bureau issued two civil penalties to Uber on Monday, one for operating without a company permit and another for operating without a vehicle permit.

As the City documents Uber’s unpermitted operations in Portland, the Bureau will issue warnings to Uber drivers and penalties to the company. Drivers found to be repeatedly operating without a permit may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

An attorney representing the City of Portland also issued a Cease and Desist Order Monday to Uber for unauthorized use of the image of the historic “Portland, Oregon” sign in Old Town in its advertising. The sign’s image is a trademark registered with the State of Oregon. If Uber does not cease all commercial use of the sign by 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, the City is prepared to seek a court order, damages and attorney’s fees.

The Transportation Bureau encourages the public to report illegal taxi operations, and complaints about any private for hire transportation provider to 503-865-2486 or by email to regulatory@portlandoregon.gov

See attachments: • CityofPortlandvUber • CityofPortlandCeaseandDesist • TrademarkCeaseAndDesist • FrequentlyAskedQuestions

Background on Private for Hire Transportation in Portland Portland and Vancouver, Wash. are the only cities in the metropolitan area that regulate taxi companies. Uber recently started operating in Vancouver without permits and in other area cities that do not regulate taxis.

Since the City Council moved taxi regulation from the Revenue Bureau to PBOT, effective July 1, Commissioner Novick and transportation officials started a top-to-bottom review intended to update the City’s taxi and executive sedan regulations.

Commissioner Novick is convening a task force to reexamine existing taxi regulations and see if those regulations should be restructured while protecting consumers and drivers.

It is illegal for motorists to pick up passengers for a fee in the Portland city limits without proper permits. Taxis that pick up passengers outside of Portland may drop off those passengers in Portland without a permit.

Anyone in Portland can use the smartphone app Curb to call taxis from Broadway and Radio Cab, which are two of the largest permitted taxi companies in the city.

The three most common violations of City Code that city enforcement officers find, and which Uber and its drivers may be in violation of, are:

Code Section Requirement 1st Offense 2nd Offense Subsequent Offenses 16.40.090 A. LPT and Taxi Driver Permit $1,000 $2,500 $5,000 16.40.150 A. Taxi Company Permit $1,500 $2,500 $5,000 16.40.190 B. Taxiplate $1,250 $2,500 $5,000 Full City Code Citation: http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/?c=28593#cid_408153

The Limited Passenger Transportation and Taxi Driver Permit requirements ensure the public that drivers have passed annual City-required annual background checks.

The Taxi Company Permit requirement ensures the public that licensed companies have appropriate commercial insurance that will cover passengers in the event of a crash, and that the companies’ drivers have annual City-required background checks and inspected vehicles.

The Taxiplate display requirement calls for posting of a metal plate on the vehicle with an identification number. It helps customers and enforcement officers identify permitted operators.