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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

City of Portland Applies for Second Round of Earthquake Funds

Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick today announced the next phase of a pilot project with Clean Energy Works, which could give some 100 Portland homeowners the opportunity to upgrade the seismic safety of their homes. Click here to learn more about the program.

If funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant, the money could help pay for up to half the costs of seismic upgrades for qualifying homes. The City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM), Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Clean Energy Works are partnering to apply for the FEMA grant. As part of the application process, the City and Clean Energy Works are seeking homeowners to join a waiting list in order to demonstrate local demand to FEMA.

“A mark of a truly sustainable city is its ability to withstand and recover from a major disaster, including earthquakes,” said Commissioner Novick. “We should all take steps to improve our resiliency by not only assembling a disaster kit and having an emergency plan, but also seismically strengthening our homes. Our homes are often a family’s largest financial asset, and a home’s structural integrity will help to ensure the safety and well-being of our families and community.”

The potential for widespread damage to homes after a major earthquake in Portland is high. Western Oregon and Portland are located near the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fault off the coast capable of producing earthquakes similar to the Tōhoku quake in Japan in 2011. The last major Cascadia earthquake was in the year 1700. There are also several faults running through the city that could cause damaging shaking. Portland has about 100,000 older unreinforced single-family homes that may be vulnerable.

In many cases costing just a few thousand dollars, a seismic retrofit can mean one’s home is left standing after a seismic event, rather than being a total loss that must be torn down post-quake. Reinforcing and upgrading a home includes bolting the house to its foundation, reinforcing the ‘cripple wall’ (the short wall between the first floor and the foundation), and shoring up the posts and beams that bear weight under a home. Clean Energy Works, the state’s largest home performance provider, now provides seismic retrofits through qualified contractors as part of its services.

“Seismic upgrades provide a proven way to ‘harden’ a home and give it stability during the violent shaking of an earthquake,” said Tim Miller, Clean Energy Works CEO. “This work means your home is safer for your family and therefore better prepared for other kinds of natural disasters, including windstorms.”

“This is an investment in safety that will pay back in a big way should we experience a major—or even a relatively minor—earthquake. If a home is knocked off its foundation, it’s not only unsafe, it’s generally considered a total loss,” said Commissioner Novick.

Clean Energy Works offers a unique “one-stop shop” for home performance upgrades, making it easier for homeowners to complete energy efficiency, seismic, radon mitigation and solar energy upgrades. The organization provides customers with everything needed to complete upgrades, including rebates, skilled contractors, no-money-down financing and a free 100-Point Home Performance Check that illuminates all the opportunities to improve a home’s performance.

”The first part of Portland’s pilot with CEW helped 23 residents strengthen their homes,” said PBEM Director Carmen Merlo. “We’re hopeful we can get additional FEMA funds to build on our previous success and expand the program.”

The application will be filed with FEMA in August. CEW and PBEM hope to know later in the year if additional funds will be received.

About Clean Energy Works

Clean Energy Works (CEW) is the Northwest region’s largest home performance provider. The nonprofit activates a powerful collaboration of local contractors, lenders, governments, and utilities to make it easy and affordable for homeowners to improve the comfort, efficiency and health of their homes. Clean Energy Works is nationally recognized as an innovative model that successfully multiplies energy savings, good jobs and other environmental benefits to transform local communities.

About Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management works before, during, and after emergencies to minimize the impacts on the community and promote a culture of resilience. Resilience in this context describes the ability of Portland’s infrastructure, services, and residents to mitigate, absorb or adapt to the impacts of an emergency or disaster without undermining the long-term well being of individuals, the economy, or the environment.

Innovation Pilot Program Status Report: Taxis and TNCs in Portland

I am pleased to release the status report on the Private For Hire Transportation Innovation Pilot Program with trip pattern data from May 2015.

In January 2015, I convened a 12-member community Task Force to provide guidance and recommendations about how the City of Portland’s Private For Hire Transportation (PFHT) regulatory program should evolve and respond to new developments in the industry, including the entry of transportation network companies (TNCs). It is critical that the City provide necessary safeguards and standards to protect consumers, ensure accessibility for all, and allow for a fair, competitive market for drivers and companies across all sectors of the PFHT industry.

Following a presentation of regulatory recommendations from the Task Force and a great deal of public input, Council approved the PFHT Innovation Pilot Program with revised regulations for taxi companies and new rules that allow for TNCs. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is managing and overseeing the Pilot Program, which began in April and will conclude in August.

The following is a status report on the Pilot, which includes trip pattern data from the first full month. Data collection is a critical component of the Pilot. The PFHT program is working with our partners to collect data in an effort to develop a more detailed understanding of the traffic implications, commute patterns and location of private for hire transportation trips, including wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) trips. The program also collects data to ensure compliance by taxi and TNC operators. Data points collected include trip date, time, origin and destination, wait time for vehicle, duration of the trip, WAV requests and unfulfilled or cancelled/no-show rides.

Additionally, this report includes an overview of transportation options in Portland for people with disabilities, which have historically been limited and challenging to access. These challenges are widely known and experienced in the disability community—in Portland and throughout the U.S.—and have also been highlighted as we evaluate PFHT service and regulations. Coupled with the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed by Congress in July 1990, I am hopeful additional attention to transportation accessibility will result in much needed improvements to transportation service options for people with disabilities.

Lastly, I want to thank members of the PFHT Innovation Task Force who have met since January and continue to give thoughtful and creative consideration to PFHT service and regulations in the City of Portland. The Portland Bureau of Transportation will provide regular status updates to the Task Force, which continues to review regulations and monitor Portland’s dynamic PFHT market.


Commissioner Steve Novick
City of Portland, Oregon


>>PFHT Innovation Pilot Program Status Report<<

Socially Responsible Investment Committee Moves Forward

At its meeting this week, City Council confirmed a complete roster of members nominated for the Socially Responsible Investments Committee. The seven volunteer members have expertise in environmental and conservation issues, labor practices, corporate ethics and governance, corporate taxation, public health and safety, and business. The committee’s first meeting has not yet been scheduled. Information about all meetings, which will be open to the public, will be posted on the committee’s website at

Council created this committee in December 2014, charging it with recommending companies for the City’s Corporate Securities Do-Not-Buy List. The list, which is approved by Council annually, identifies those companies in which the City will not directly invest its own money.  In accordance with State law and City policy, Portland does not purchase stocks, but it does invest in corporate bonds and commercial paper.  The committee must make recommendations consistent with Council-approved principles articulated as social and values concerns, including environmental concerns, health concerns including weapons production, concerns about abusive labor practices, concerns about corrupt corporate ethics and governance, concerns about extreme tax avoidance, concerns about exercise of such a level of market dominance so as to disrupt normal competitive market forces, and concerns about impacts on human rights.

If you have any questions about the Socially Responsible Investments Committee, please contact Katie Shriver, policy director for Commissioner Novick, at 503-823-3005.

Marriage and Flags

It is, of course, awful that so many loving and committed couples had to wait this long to get married... and many, of course, lived and died without ever having had such a chance. But it is also remarkable how quickly America has moved. Eleven years ago I went to the very sad No on Measure 36 election night event, as we endured a 57-43 defeat. (For months afterward, when I would see a car with a "One man, one women" bumper sticker, I would try to pass it and get ahead of it in hopes that the driver would see my "Two men, two women, what's the problem?" sticker.) It was only three years ago that Barack Obama - with a prod from Joe Biden - finally spoke out for love. And it is (as of yesterday!) forty-six years since Stonewall marked the beginning of the gay rights movement.

For the past several years, whenever I've had a chance to speak at a gay and lesbian rights event, I have said: "Thank goodness that there's ONE progressive cause where WE ARE WINNING, and know for sure that history is on our side. Thirty years from now all the coastal cities will probably be under water due to climate change, and the richest 1% will probably have 98% of the wealth and income ... but at least we'll have marriage equality!"

Now that marriage equality is a reality nationwide, far faster than any of us would have imagined just a few short years ago, we should savor the victory, and do so for a long time. But I also see it as a challenge to champions of environmental and economic justice causes: we need to step it up. And we must remember that the fight for true equality for LGBTQ Americans is far from over. Trans Americans, in particular, are subjected to a horrifying amount of sexual violence. And many of the homeless youth on our streets are there because their families have effectively disowned them.

The relative speed of success of the great cause of gay and lesbian rights is highlighted by another dramatic development of the past two weeks: one hundred and fifty years after Appomattox, some Southern states, in the wake of the terrorist attack in Charleston, are actually removing the Confederate flag from their capitol grounds. I remember, living in the Washington, D.C. area, how jarring it was to see Virginia roads named after Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. Why not Jim Crow Parkway, I wondered? Benedict Arnold Road? It is appalling that it has been considered socially acceptable, in many states, to display symbols of support for slavery for one hundred and fifty years after we fought a bloody war on the subject. And it is terrible that it took a horribly tragic event to make people think twice.

But when the Governor of Alabama, removes the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds, it's a good day in America. (And when, in his comment on the event, the same Republican governor says that he doesn't want distractions because, among other things, "I have taxes to raise," it adds an extra touch of weird beauty to the moment.)

Oh - one last thing - did you catch the New York Daily News front page? A spectacular effort in keeping with that tabloid's glorious headline history (e.g., "FORD TO NEW YORK: DROP DEAD").

Working together to build safer streets

Traffic collisions not only have an impact on the individuals and families involved, but also on the our first responders, on officers who investigate the collisions and on transportation staff who dedicate so much time and talent to developing safer streets. Each incident weighs heavily on me, and the emotional burden of these tragedies resonates throughout the entire city.

I appreciate the advocacy of many, and particularly those among the bike community, that call for an investment in our transportation system to improve the safety of our streets and expand the network of low-stress bicycle facilities. We need safer streets for people of all ages and demographics on all modes.

Mayor Hales and I are working hard to secure more transportation funding, and even with limited resources and growing needs, PBOT works hard to maintain our existing transportation infrastructure and make incremental safety improvements. There’s still much work to do.

In addition to a statewide transportation funding package, Portland and other Oregon cities could do more to improve the safety of our transportation system if more localized tools would be made available.

We are working in the legislature on House Bill 2621 which would give Portland the ability to put safety cameras to beef up our enforcement on our high crash corridors. These notoriously dangerous roads account for only 3 percent of our road network but contribute to more than half of Portland’s pedestrian fatalities. We know we need to do more and the ability to do more enforcement on these arterials is a critical tool we need from the legislature this session.

In the past few years, we have lowered speeds on SE Division, NE Glisan, SW Garden Home, NE 33rd, and NW 18th. We know that speeding contributes to a high-stress environment for those biking and walking. Reducing speed limits in dense urban environments allows the street to better reflect the context of the surrounding neighborhood. But again, speed limits are controlled by the state, even on local roads. We are working with ODOT for broader authority to better manage our speed limits so they are appropriate to their context.

In reference to Neighborhood Greenways, I hear you.

Portland’s Neighborhood Greenways improve safe routes to schools, provide low-stress connectivity through the City, contribute to improved health outcomes, and help advance our Climate Action Plan goals.

Earlier this month, I asked PBOT staff to look into temporary diversions on some of our highest utilized Neighborhood Greenways. I have asked PBOT work with the community and neighborhood businesses to test temporary diversions around Neighborhood Greenways this summer.

We should also recognize the added benefits of pedestrian infrastructure, which also improves safety for bikes. It’s important to note that people riding bicycles have the same legal rights as a pedestrian in a crosswalk. This year, we are adding 24-rapid flashing beacons.

In terms of biking and walking infrastructure downtown, we are excited about getting the ball rolling on our multimodal central city plan, the funds of which will be available later this fall. We will look for the best way to implement cost effective infrastructure that will benefit the safety of all users.

Thank you again for your advocacy and stay tuned for more updates regarding our safety efforts regarding Vision Zero, our legislative agenda, and upcoming projects. In the meantime, please continue to engage with us—we appreciate hearing from you!