2020 Citizen Initiated Referendum Questions

On Friday, December 4, 2020, the City of Portland released implementation information for the five citizen initiative ordinances that were passed by Portland voters at the November 3 election. 

The City’s implementation plan follows the letter of the ordinances (known as Questions A, B, C, D, and F) as written and prepares City staff to administer new and applicable mandates, processes, and programs on December 6, 2020, when all but one of the new ordinances go into effect.

The information below summarizes the impact of each new ordinance and provides lists of frequently asked questions that the City anticipates members of the public will want to know. 

The City Manager has the responsibility for implementing and enforcing city ordinances, including voter approved citizen initiative ordinances.

November 24, 2020 Press Release
December 4, 2020 Press Release
December 4, 2020 City Council Memo from City Manager Regarding Implementation Process

The following information describes the City of Portland’s interpretation and implementation of five referenda approved by voters on the November 2020 ballot.

Please consult an attorney for legal advice or clarification.

Question A - Minimum Wage
The Minimum Wage Ordinance will increase the minimum wage in Portland to $15.00 an hour over three years, beginning January 1, 2022. Additionally, the Ordinance requires that employees be paid 1.5 times the minimum wage rate for work performed during an emergency declared by the state or City if that emergency applies to the employee’s geographical workplace. Per the language of the Ordinance, this time-and-a-half rate does not apply until January 1, 2022, when the City has a new minimum wage.

Per the language of the amendment, staff plan to enforce the new minimum wage ordinance beginning January 1, 2022, when its terms take effect.

Question B - Facial Recognition Ban
The Facial Recognition Ban proactively prohibits the City from using or authorizing the use of any facial surveillance software on any groups or members of the public. Since the City Council passed a similar ban (Order 75-20/21) on August 3, 2020, as well as the fact that the City does not currently use or authorize the use of any such technology, the Ban does not require active implementation at this time.

Question C - Green New Deal The Green New Deal affects City projects or projects receiving a specific amount of City funding. Parts of it may apply to private building projects if a) if the City is a tenant of the privately-owned building or b) if the project involves the development of a residential building with 10 or more units.

The Green New Deal has 3 components:

  1. Amendment to Chapter 2 of the City Code: This change introduces new requirements for construction contracts awarded by the City Manager and valued at $50,000 or more.  Under the new provision, firms awarded such contracts must:
a. Comply with certain wage and benefits requirements;
b. Require workers to complete certain safety training, and 
c. Employ minimum numbers of apprentices to work on the project. 
2. Amendment to Chapter 6 (Building Code): This change focuses primarily on the sections of Chapter 6 that comprise the City’s existing “Green Building Code.”  Among other things, the voter-adopted amendment lowers the threshold of “City funding” that will trigger application of the Green Building Code from $250,000 to $50,000, reduces minimum square footage requirements, and imposes additional environmental standards on eligible projects, including solar-ready or living roofs. 

3. Amendment to Chapter 14 (Land Use): This change increases the percentage of units in new residential buildings with 10 or more units that must be affordable to people making 80% of the area median income, and increases the fee developers must pay to opt out of this requirement from $100,000 to $150,000 per unit.  

The Green New Deal also requires the City to annually publish and present a report detailing the City’s use of and reliance on fossil fuels, including 1) a survey of all new buildings built in Portland without fossil fuel based infrastructure; 2) a survey of green building technologies that have been implemented as alternatives to fossil fuels; 3) an assessment of the benefits of adopting this policy; 4) a survey of relevant legislation enacted at the state and local level; and 5) proposal for further changes to City Code to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Question D - Rent Control

The Rent Control Ordinance establishes the January 1, 2021 base rent of most rental units in Portland to the rent charged in June 2020, and caps the amount by which landlords may increase that rent annually. This ordinance is applicable to both long-term rental units and short-term rental units.

In addition, the Ordinance provides various protections to tenants, including notice of rent increases, additional notice or payments before evicting certain tenants, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of funding (such as Section 8 or GA), and notice of tenants’ rights to new tenants.

Lastly, this Ordinance establishes a Rent Board to conduct hearings in response to tenant complaints, mediate disputes between tenants and landlords, and consider landlords’ requests for rent increases outside the scope of this Ordinance.

Rent Control FAQs for Short-Term Rentals
Learn about Rental Housing Registration

Question F - Marijuana Amendment

This amendment to Chapter 25 of the City Code removes any limitation on the number of marijuana retail licenses granted by the City of Portland. In addition, it reduces the space required between two marijuana retail stores from 250’ to 100’.