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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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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 - $27,000



>$27,000 - $46,000



>$46,000 - $82,000






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




$35,000 - $60,000

1/10 of 1%



$60,000 - $100,000

2/10 of 1%



$100,000 - $250,000

3/10 of 1%



> $250,000

4/10 of 1%



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

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

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:

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.

Frequently Asked Questions about Taxi and other Private for-Hire Transportation Regulations in Portland

What is the Private For Hire Transportation Program?
The purpose of the Private For Hire Transportation Program (PFHT) is to provide for the safe, fair and efficient operation of private "for-hire" transportation services. The private for-hire transportation means providing vehicular, horse-drawn carriage or pedicab transportation for compensation of any kind within the Portland City limits. The PFHT Program was formerly a division of the Portland Revenue Bureau, but was reassigned in July 2014 to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to better align with Portland’s broader transportation network.

What is a Transportation Network Company?
A Transportation Network Company (TNC) connects drivers with passengers offering for-hire transportation service via an online-enabled platform or mobile app. Examples of TNCs include Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. The term “ridesharing” is often used to describe a TNC, however “ridesharing” more accurately describes other activities such as carpooling or shuttle service where drivers offer transportation to passengers to destinations and routes already planned by drivers. Ridesharing can be both a free and for-hire service. The transportation service offered by TNCs is always for-hire.

Portlanders wanting to request taxi service via an online-enabled platform or mobile app may do so with several permitted local taxi companies through the mobile app, Curb.

Did Portland City Council ban TNCs, including Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others?
No. TNCs like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others have not applied to be permitted to operate in the City of Portland. They have not agreed to follow City of Portland regulations that apply to PFHT taxi companies, including insurance requirements, fare regulation, citywide service, and access for people with disabilities.

In addition, the City currently limits the number of taxi permits and only approves new operators or additional permits to existing operators after the PFHT Board reviews permit applications that require a demonstration of sufficient market demand. Uber, Lfyt, Sidecar and others are welcome to apply for permits, so long as market demand is demonstrated and TNC operators agree to abide by rules other PFHT operators adhere to, such as those described above. The City has let TNCs know that the City remains open to discussing changes to PFHT regulations, but new rules would need to be consistent for all PFHT operators, rather than creating special exceptions for TNCs.

Only one formal request has been made to the PFHT Board to allow TNC service. That request was made by Uber in September 2013 to operate Uber Black without being subject to Portland’s executive sedan regulations. A subcommittee of the PFHT Board scheduled a meeting with Uber to discuss the request. Uber representatives did not attend that meeting or the subsequent PBHT Board meeting, at which point the Board denied Uber’s request to recommend to City Council that the existing regulations be changed. Nonetheless, City Council has had ongoing informal conversations with TNCs, including Uber and Lyft.

When will TNCs be allowed?
TNCs need to apply for City of Portland PFHT permits and adhere to regulations that provide important safeguards and standards to protect consumers, ensure accessibility, and allow for a fair, competitive market for drivers and companies. Commissioner Novick is convening a task force to review current PFHT regulations and make recommendations for changes that will include rules for TNCs. These new rules are expected to be adopted in 2015.

Do taxi, executive sedan, and TNCs that pick up passengers outside of Portland need a City of Portland private for-hire company permit to drop passengers off in Portland?
No. However, City of Portland PFHT permits are required for any company that accepts a ride request made in Portland city limits. Similarly, the Port of Portland requires separate permits for PFHT companies accepting rides at the PDX Airport. Companies operating in Portland also need to be registered with the Secretary of State, and need a City of Portland business license. Drivers also need a City of Portland business license.

Will passengers be penalized for requesting or taking a ride by a TNC?
Passengers should be aware that TNCs are not permitted by the City of Portland at this time. TNC drivers have not passed background checks all other PFHT drivers are subject to and TNC vehicles have not been inspected for safety to the City’s standards for PFHT vehicles, which includes a vehicle inspection by an ASE-certified master mechanic. Additionally, insurance that protects passengers, drivers, companies and the general public has not been verified for any TNC company operating in Portland. The Oregon Insurance Division that regulates insurance coverage has also not verified TNC liability coverage. Until Portland and other Oregon cities verify insurance and adopt appropriate TNC permits, passengers and drivers are at risk when using TNC services. TNC operators and drivers will be penalized for operating in Portland, though passengers will not.

What is the difference between taxis and executive sedans?

There are currently 7 permitted taxi companies and 460 permitted taxi vehicles in the City of Portland. Customers may request taxi service by hailing a taxi on the street, requesting a ride by calling a company’s dispatch, or using that company’s mobile app. Additionally, rides may be requested via the mobile app Curb, which connects passengers with permitted taxi companies. Taxi drivers are required to pass annual background checks and display their license prominently in the vehicle. Taxi vehicles must pass annual inspections conducted by the City of Portland. Vehicles are also required to be equipped with an external display light, taximeters, and security cameras. Company information must also be displayed on the body of vehicles. Taxi regulations are outlined within Chapter 16.40 of Portland City Code.

Executive sedans, limos, shuttles and party buses are defined as Limited Passenger Transportation (LPT) by Portland City Code. Executive sedans, limos, and party buses are defined as Limited Passenger Transportation (LPT) by Portland City Code. LPTs are distinguished from taxis as being a reservation for-hire transportation service. In 2009, following disagreements between taxi and executive sedan companies, a regulatory compromise was negotiated by the City of Portland and agreed to by taxi companies, executive companies, drivers, and the Port of Portland that receives a great deal of PFHT traffic at the PDX airport. The new City Code adopted by Council in 2009 codified many long standing provisions that distinguish taxi and executive sedan services. Those include a required 60 minute advance reservation for executive sedan, limo, and party bus service with an exception for the Portland International Airport. Additionally, executive sedans, limos, and party buses are not required to be equipped with meters or display company information on the body of vehicles. LPT regulations are outlined within Chapter 16.40 of Portland City Code.

Do Portland taxi drivers have medallions?
Unlike other cities, Portland does not have a medallion system. However, drivers must pass a driver test and annual background check to receive a PFHT driver permit. Driver permits are not owned by companies and may not be sold or traded. Permitted drivers are eligible to work for any permitted PFHT company.

How are taxi drivers compensated?
Driver compensation varies by each taxi and LPT company. Taxi companies commonly charge drivers a weekly fee (called a “Kitty”) to operate as an independent contractor of that company and drivers are typically responsible for fueling vehicles. Fare revenue and tips made beyond the Kitty and cost of fuel is generally considered to be a driver’s compensation. A 2012 Taxi Driver Labor Market Study commissioned by the City of Portland found that Portland taxi drivers often work long hours and make a net hourly wage of $6.22 an hour, lower than the $9.10 Oregon minimum wage. Taxi companies that operate as co-ops appear to provide higher incomes for their drivers. Again, because Kitties vary by company, so does average driver compensation. Long hours and low wages for taxi drivers are associated with poor customer service, unsafe driving, increased cashes, negative impacts to driver health and family life, as well as increased costs to the community.

How are fares regulated?
Taxi rates are a maximum of $2.50 plus $2.60 per mile and wait time at a rate of $30 per hour. Additional passengers are $1 each. As a luxury service, executive sedan rates are 35% higher than the prevailing taxi rate. Shuttles operate with fixed routes and fixed rates 35% below comparable taxi rates.

What are the insurance requirements for taxis and executive sedans?
Permitted companies must carry a minimum of $1 million in General Liability insurance and a minimum of $500,000 in Auto Liability insurance.

Is carpooling subject to PFHT regulations?
No. Carpooling is done without an exchange of money and is thus not a commercial venture subject to regulation in the way that taxis, executive sedans and TNC services are.

Is car sharing part of private for hire transportation?
No. Private for hire transportation services sell rides, while car sharing companies rent vehicles to members to drive themselves. Car sharing companies in Portland are regulated by the City’s Car Sharing Administrative Rules. Companies that meet City requirements can obtain a permit that allows car share vehicles to park temporarily in the public right-of-way. Car share parking permit fees are set to recover meter and area parking permit fees for each vehicle in the car share fleet.

The public can report suspected unpermitted operators, file a complaint and direct questions to the City of Portland's Private For Hire Transportation Program staff by emailing