Portland approves $15 an hour minimum wage for city workers


City Council roundup: Full-time workers, contractors get a raise; demolition reform passes; Uber’s coming, ready or not.

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BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The Portland City Council helped Mayor Charlie Hales take a step toward achieving a goal he established in this year’s State of the City address.

After three hours of public testimony, the council approved giving 173 full-time workers and contractors a raise to $15 an hour.

OregonLive.com reports on the meeting Wednesday:

“We’re here because the community has spoken,” said Commissioner Nick Fish, citing $15 Now PDX and other advocates who campaigned for the wage for the past year.

The vote signals that Portland is invested in the growing push to raise the minimum wage for workers and the community as a whole. Portland follows Multnomah County and Home Forward, the county housing authority, in raising wages for its workers, moves that advocates say are crucial to addressing stagnant wages and growing inequality.

The scope of this action is limited, but the Oregon legislature could consider a statewide measure in the 2015 session.


 

Earlier Wednesday, the council unanimously approved reform to the residential demolition process.

The Portland Tribune reported on the contention between neighborhood activists and homebuilders, who cited high demand for the infill projects.

“We all know the Joni Mitchell song that says you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and we have neighborhoods we don’t want to lose,” said Mayor Charlie Hales, who is working with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability on projects to consider such issues in next year’s budget.

The measure was introduced by Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who is in charge of the Bureau of Development Services, which issues demolition and construction permits. It was developed by a BDS advisory committee and some of the activists, including representatives of the grassroots United Neighborhoods for Reform group. Among other things, the measure keeps an existing 35-day delay on all demolitions, allows anyone to request an additional 60-day extension for any house of significance to a neighborhood, allows the $1,318 extension application fee to be waived for neighborhood associations, and provides for fundraising plans to be developed during the extension.


April 9 is the date companies like Uber and Lyft are supposed to start operating in Portland. But it is unlikely the city council will be prepared to authorize permits by then.

The Portland Tribune reports:

The task force is scheduled to make recommendations about the safety requirements of ride-sharing services by April 2, a week before the council hearing. But Hockaday now says the council will only discuss the recommendations on April 9, not vote on a specific proposal. In fact, Hockaday says, Novick will not draft the proposed code changes until after the council reaches consensus on how it wants to proceed.

Even then, council rules require at least one public hearing on such proposals before they can be approved, raising question about whether the final vote can even occur before the end of April.

 

 




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