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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

Call If You Can, Text If You Can't

Everyone should be able to access emergency services. But historically, accessing emergency services by calling 9-1-1 has been difficult or unsafe for a significant swath of our community. Today, we were able to announce that emergency services will be easier and safer to access for many more people, thanks to the official launch of “Text to 9-1-1” in Portland.

In our current model in Portland, and most cities around the country, contacting a 9-1-1 dispatcher to request medical, fire or police services requires a phone call. People who are deaf or hearing impaired have to use a “Text Telephone Device” (TTD) to request help. These devices might work fine in day-to-day life when time isn’t a matter of life or death, but in an emergency, it’s easy to see how these devices can be cumbersome, inconvenient and life-threatening.

Currently, contacting 9-1-1 without a phone call is impossible for anyone who doesn’t have a TTD device. In some contexts in which people are facing a threat of violence, making a phone call could put them in greater danger.

For example, a person stuck in an abusive and violent relationship might find it difficult to call for help, for fear that their partner would hear the conversation with the dispatcher and hurt them further. Or, a person who wakes up in the middle of the night and hears a home invader might not call for police assistance for fear that the invader might overhear.

For individuals living with mental illness, a conversation on the phone could represent an insurmountable psychological barrier, and a necessary and life-saving phone call might never happen.

The ability to text 9-1-1 dispatchers is an essential and potentially life-saving service for many people in Portland. Today’s launch of Text to 9-1-1 fills an important gap for people who need help from a medical, police, or fire first responder, even if they cannot talk.

It's important to note that people who can make a phone call should call, rather than text, 9-1-1, because a phone call remains a faster way of transmitting information.

Remember, call 9-1-1 to stop a crime in progress, report a fire, or call an ambulance. If the situation is not an emergency, you should call 503-823-3333, which is the non-emergency number for all of Portland and Multnomah County.

You can learn more about the program on Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency's website

Saving Lives with Safer Streets

Did you know that people walking on Beaverton Hillsdale Highway are twice as likely to be injured or killed as on the average Portland street? These serious injuries and fatalities are largely the result of people driving cars at excessive speeds. Speed truly does kill; the chart below shows the chance of survival if hit by a car at various speeds. These all too frequent crashes are not “accidents,” nor are they inevitable. Based on data from other cities, we know what tools work to reduce these fatalities on our streets.

Fixed speed safety cameras are an important step. In 2015, the Oregon State Legislature granted the City of Portland the authority to use fixed speed safety cameras on high crash corridors. In Portland, the 10 designated High Crash Corridors make up just 3 percent of the City’s street network, but account for more than 50 percent of pedestrian fatalities.

The purpose of safety cameras is to change behavior so that people do not exceed the speed limit, thereby eliminating a serious safety risk for the other people using the street, including other car users, pedestrians and cyclists. As a result, the location of all of our cameras will be widely publicized. Moreover, as drivers approach a safety camera, they will be given notice of their speed via a speed reader board and an opportunity to slow down. If a person approaches the speed reader board and fails to reduce their speed, the camera will record their driving. Shortly thereafter, a Portland Police officer will review the video of the speeding driver and determine whether a citation is appropriate.

Since gaining approval from State Legislators, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has worked with neighborhoods throughout the city to determine which streets would be ideal candidates for safety cameras. Based on our conversations with community members and neighborhood leaders, Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway between SW 30-39th was selected as the first location for fixed speed safety cameras. The cameras will be activated in August, along with new clear speed signage, including “Traffic Laws are Photo Enforced” signs, as well as new speed reader boards that display rates of speed to road users.

 For the first 30 days, the fixed speed safety cameras will not issue citations, and instead will issue warnings to remind community members to slow down. These notifications will be supplemented with repaving and safety improvements on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, including a rectangular rapid flashing beacon on SW 35th, ADA-compliant pedestrian curb ramps, and expanded space for people biking and walking. We believe safety cameras combined with infrastructure improvements will move us toward our goal of Vision Zero and make Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway a much safer place to walk, bike, and drive.

Booting is an Equity Issue

This week, I asked Council to reverse a practice from the late 1980s to tow, rather than boot, vehicles with outstanding parking citations and fees. I wanted to make this change largely because the towing and vehicle storage fees are an unnecessary penalty that is particularly burdensome for people with low incomes.

Contractually, the current cost for a tow in Portland is $168—this is in addition to the unpaid citations and fees that triggered the tow in the first place. If the vehicle isn’t retrieved within the first four hours, a $25 daily storage fee is charged by the towing company for every day it sits in their lot. For millionaires, $168 isn’t much of a deterrent. For those who make a modest living, $168 can be an incredible hardship. The vehicle that was suddenly taken away might have had important things in it, such as medication. It might also be someone’s only means of getting their family around, or going to work, school or doctor appointments. 

Booting gives folks the opportunity to appear in front of a judge at Multnomah County Court to resolve their outstanding citations, before they start getting hit with additional fines. Under PBOT’s new proposed system, people have 36 hours to either pay their outstanding citations, or set up a payment plan, before their car is towed. PBOT’s proposed plan also wouldn’t charge a booting fee nor would vehicles accrue parking citations while they remain booted in the street.

Council will vote on my proposal next week, with a projected implementation date of September 6th, 2016.



Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the current process for towing vehicles due to overdue citations and fees?

The Multnomah County Court generates a “tow list” of vehicles with unserved tag warrants. The list is sent to PBOT parking enforcement and if they come across a vehicle that is on the list, PBOT contacts the contracted tow company and the vehicle is towed.

What does this ordinance do?

This ordinance gives PBOT code authority to “immobilize” vehicles for booting. Instead of towing the vehicle right away, it would get booted for up to 36 hours. This gives folks the opportunity to see a judge, make payment, or set up a payment plan before they accrue the additional charges associated with tows.

How does a vehicle get on the tow list?

Vehicles that have unpaid parking citations and fees totaling more than $500 and/or six delinquent citations are put on the tow list by the Multnomah County Court.

How is the Multnomah County Court involved?

As a result of legislation from the 1970s, Multnomah County Circuit Court handles all of the City’s parking and traffic citations.

How much does it normally cost for tow and storage?

The current contractual cost of a tow is $168. The cost to store a towed vehicle past the initial four hours is $25 per day.

Is there an additional booting fee?

A booting fee is not currently proposed.

How long will boots stay on vehicles in the ROW?

Boots will stay on vehicles for 36 hours before being towed. If the customer is making arrangements with the Court and more time is needed, PBOT will accommodate that. It is not the intention of PBOT to store vehicles in the ROW for a significant amount of time, however.

Will vehicles accrue parking citations while it remains on the street?

Not currently proposed.

How do customers pay the Court or see a judge?

Customers can pay the Court through the normal process in person. Payment plans can be scheduled with the Court, if needed. Customers can also see a judge at Drop in Court Monday through Thursday from 8:30 to 10:30 and 1:30 to 3:30 without an appointment. PBOT will not boot on Fridays, as the Drop in Court is not open.

How will the boot be removed?

After the customer makes arrangements with the Court, PBOT parking enforcement will remove the boot immediately. PBOT projects the estimated wait time would be less than an hour.

How much will the equipment cost PBOT?


A New Form of Transportation Pedals into Portland

This week marked a new era for transportation in Portland. The City’s bike share system, BIKETOWN, launched this Tuesday with 1,000 smart bikes across 100 stations. Though we are the 65th city in the nation to adopt a bike share program, we have the largest—and one that was designed with convenience and affordability in mind.

BIKETOWN is ideal for short one-way trips, whether it be running errands, commuting in the Central City, or simply enjoying Portland’s urban environment. It’s easy to checkout a bike at a station kiosk or reserve a bike through your mobile phone or desktop. Users may also purchase a BIKETOWN card, which will allow users to tap the card on the bike’s keypad and then enter their 4-digit PIN. Similar to car2go, BIKETOWN bikes are equipped with GPS technology that allows the user to drop off bikes anywhere within the service area, not necessarily at a BIKETOWN kiosk. The GPS units also help deter theft and ensure a safe, high-quality experience.

PBOT staff have gone to great lengths to ensure this new transportation system fits seamlessly into Portland’s fabric. The lights on BIKETOWN bikes will turn on automatically when the bike starts moving, regardless of whether it is day or night.  Further, users will be reminded of safe riding practices by signs on kiosks and notes on the bicycles. 

Moreover, as we start relying more on data to drive transportation planning decisions, we intend to utilize anonymous data from GPS units to better understand mobility trends for people who ride bikes.  This will allow us to better prioritize biking and walking infrastructure where it will have the most impact.

BIKETOWN will help Portland meets its Climate Action Plan goals to reduce emissions from transportation. Bike share annual members in similar cities have reduced their driving by 20% and dramatically increased their bicycling. As a one-way trip tool, BIKETOWN will make our world class transit system even more convenient.

When BIKETOWN was designed, equity was essential in the decision-making process, influencing both fare structure and station location. At $2.50 per single ride, BIKETOWN is one of the most affordable bike share systems. For even greater affordability, BIKETOWN allows users to earn credits towards their accounts by returning BIKETOWN bikes at public bike racks to BIKETOWN kiosks. Further, as part of our station siting process, we made conscious decisions to look closely at affordable housing locations.  96% of the 13,000 affordable housing units within the BIKETOWN service area are within ¼ mile of a BIKETOWN station; 60% are within 500 feet. Moreover, the Community Cycling Center and PBOT received a People for Bikes grant to conduct grassroots outreach to affordable housing communities and providing deeply discounted memberships to low income Portlanders.

BIKETOWN is developing an ADA accessible bike share pilot program that will kick off in spring 2017.

With all of these innovative and sustainable features, BIKETOWN will be an affordable, high-quality transportation experience unmatched in the nation.  We hope you will check out a bike and go for a spin!

If you have any questions, please check out the extensive FAQ on the BIKETOWN website or contact BIKETOWN’s customer service at Phone: 866-512-BIKE (866-512-2453)

Welcome 2016 SummerWorks Interns, Grace and Otelo!

Please join me in welcoming Otelo and Grace to Team Novick!

Otelo Reggy-Beane will be supporting Commissioner Novick’s community engagement and equity work, in addition to other policy and administrative duties.

Otelo is a rising senior at the International School of Beaverton and aspires to be an international lawyer involved in foreign diplomacy. He is involved in a number of extra-curricular activities including the World Affairs Council of Oregon's Young Leaders in Action program, Model United Nations and Junior Statesmen of America. Otelo’s community service also reflects his commitment to alleviating poverty and economic instability as a volunteer with The Burrito Project and as a tutor at Chehalem Elementary School.

Otelo has earned a Certificate of Excellence in Learning from the University of Virginia and has also been inducted in the National Honor Society, National Chinese Honor Society and Science National Honor Society.

In his free time Otelo enjoys playing basketball for Aloha High School, traveling around the world (he has been to 16 countries in 4 continents) and binging on Netflix.

Otelo can be contacted at and at (503) 823-4682.


Grace Ramstad will continue to work on later high school start times as it intersects with chronic absenteeism, in addition to other policy and administrative duties.

As a member of the Multnomah Youth Commission, Grace first became involved with Commissioner Novick’s office as a liaison a year ago, and will continue on as a SummerWorks intern. She spent the last year connecting with all of the schools in Multnomah County to identify key student leaders and collaborating with doctors to produce an op-ed article on the subject. This fall Grace will attend Georgetown University where she intends to major in Government and minor in Education, Inquiry, and Justice.

Her public service record began at 14-years-old as a Summer Reading Volunteer with the Troutdale Library. Grace recently graduated from Centennial High School, where she served as the student representative on the Centennial School Board and on the District Equity Team. With the other members of Centennial’s Future Business Leaders of America organization, she established Food for Families, a nonprofit organization that operates a mobile food pantry, providing free groceries out of a refurbished school bus. Her work in the community led Grace to receive the 2015 Multnomah County Volunteer Award and the Gresham Great Young Citizen Award for her outstanding service.  

As the 2016 Rose Festival Queen, Grace will continue to represent Portland and serve as an ambassador over the next year.

She can be reached at or (503) 823-4682.