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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 12, 2009 6:55 AM. The previous post in this blog was By cracky, it was bad!. The next post in this blog is You think your neighbor's dog is bad?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Leaf it to Creepy

Portland's mayor had a couple of announcements the other day -- he's a classic political conniver, burying the bad news on Friday night -- relating to leaf pickup. The first was that he wasn't going to try to implement a leaf pickup tax, as he ludicrously suggested last year. The second was that the city isn't going to run leaf drop-off collection sites any more.

As between those two items, the second item was far more important than the first. Indeed, the first item was a blatant attempt to distract people from the second. But of course, the Pulitzer-winning dim bulbs in the local mainstream media took the bait and ran with the no-tax part first.

Let's get down to the real news -- the fact that the leaf drop-off program is being discontinued. What kind of sense does that make? Whatever the city is saving by closing those depots is probably going to be spent several times over for overtime for city workers to clean out clogged storm drains and relieve flooded intersections. The mayor's telling Portlanders who used to use the depots to call their garbage carriers to make other arrangements -- but we all know that those arrangements are going to result in extra charges on people's garbage bills. And given the depression we're currently in, people faced with a choice between a higher garbage bill and leaving the leaves on the ground to swirl down to the nearest sewer grate are going to do the obvious.

Why can't we afford the leaf drop-off depots any more?

I guess it's because we're spending all our money on being a "multi-modal mecca." I wish every Portlander would rake up a big, black plastic bag full of leaves, drive down to the nearest streetcar stop, board a streetcar with the bag, and leave it behind. Maybe then Mayor Creepy will get the picture.

Comments (30)

How many bags can fit on a streetcar?

Or could we drop them discreetly in envelopes at the City Hall reception desk?

Just do what is done in North Portland, since the street cleaning people only sweep the streets twice a year and without any notice as to the day, rake the leaves into the street. It's kinda fun to watch the city crew, after the leaves become soggy and packed, bring in the heavy equipment in May to remove what's left of the compost in the streets.

can't you just put the leaves into your green bin?

Forget the bags out in the streetcar stations. Dump them out in front of City Hall.

Forget the bags out in the streetcar stations. Dump them out in front of City Hall.

I like that idea.

tb--yes, putting leaves into the green bin is a good idea, as is using a compost bin. But in some areas of town there are so many leaves that the residents simply can't cram enough into the bins to make a dent in their leaf piles.

I'm with Phil.

I place most of mine in my composters, but that which falls in the street, stays in the street. I don't want any of that heavy metals and petrochemical products tainting my compost. So, I rake it out into the traffic lane, where it can be mulched and flushed down the storm drain and into the Willamette River.

I figure that all that organic material can help sop up the contaminants in the River.

When the storm drain clogs, as it inevitably does, I just call the city with the "emergency". Multiple times. And, when they fail to adequately respond, I point that out, too. To the commissioner in charge and the mayor.

I'm planning to use the new drop-off shelters installed along the downtown bus mall. They're made of glass, with flat roofs. You put the leaves on top. You'll recognize them because they're already filling up with leaves. Rumor is they're also being used as "bus stops".

I'm over in the Rose City Park neighborhood and we have two huge old oak trees in our front strip by the street and we spend about $125 extra every year for bagging (purchasing the bags, then pick up from the hauler). I have no idea how I'd even transport all of these leaves to a depot. I wrote letters last year asking why there is free pick up for certain areas, but not others. It makes me mad I thought perhaps if an area doesn't have free street sweeping we could at least get a break on bag pick up from the hauler during October/November - letters didn't get a response. I'd be happy to send some over to City Hall. (They are beautiful leaves by the way)

Can we find out where Sam lives and dump the leaves on his doorstep?

How many bags can fit on a streetcar?

Ah, an angels dancing kind of question!

We live in one of the Northeast neighborhoods that gets city sweeping & clean-up every year because of all the mature leafy trees in the sidewalk strips. We have virtuously never taken advantage of that service to sweep our own leaves (some from a big Norway maple, but most from 2 enormous live oaks that belong to a neighbor, yet which inundate our back & front yards) into the street, although we do have neighbors who will do that. We compost what we can and put some out for yard debris, but a critical mass gets loaded up into black plastic yard bags (which we re-use the following year) into the back of the ancient Subaru and shlepped off to the Stanton depot. It was a messy and mildly annoying job, but we were incredibly grateful for that helpful and, until now, very Portland-like civilized option.

So now I'm wondering, is it open season on dumping into the street those mountains of leaves we would gladly have hauled to the depot for $1? Because even if we don't, I guarantee a whole lot of other people will. Sam's yard is so very tempting...

The priorities of city hall are just plain whacked. For instance, just this last Saturday a workshop was held to plan the reconstruction of Division Street between 11th and 39th. The City spends monies on new capital projects, but doesn't have the finances to maintain existing services and roads. I live in this area, and all I need is for the roads to be repaved once in a great while. Don't need the extended curves and other new flower pot amenities the city is planning and financing. I am pretty sure these are not good for businesses along Division either as most of them still primarily depend on car travel. This reconstruction will no doubt reduce road space and add to traffic congestion, making it a place to avoid for most longterm, stable businesses.

if we cut down all the trees we don't have to worry about leafs

Dump the leaves on your roof. Voila - it's an 'eco-roof'. Reap the tax benefits.

This next Friday afternoon the mayor will be announcing a plan to fine anyone who doesn't pick up their leaves.

I hope Darrin is joking, but I worry that he isn't joking.

[I'm waiting for Sam and Randy to ban burning wood in your fireplace.]

They're not called "leaves" for nothing.

pile um up in the intersections
8ft hi , toss in some fire enhancing fluid , and weeeee , you got a community event ...

Whatever the city is saving by closing those depots is probably going to be spent several times over for overtime for city workers to clean out clogged storm drains and relieve flooded intersections.

And when that happens he can get his leaf tax next year. That's how that game is run.

he can get his leaf tax next year.

Not if there's a runoff in the two City Council races. He won't have the votes on the council.

And that's assuming that he's still around next year.

For a city that prides itself on being progressive and weird, we sure have a whole bunch of law abiding, permit getting nancy boy protesters. Not to mention gargantuan quantities of apathy.

On my block in Irvington everyone fills their recycle bin then dumps them into the street. The city can bite me.

For all the people who say they don't rake their leaves on the street, you'd think the City doesn't need leaf pick-up. "I always bag my leaves ... but my neighbor .... "

On the channel 8 news tonite, a rep from Sam's Transportation Bureau said that the city would be saving $100,000 dollars by not picking up leaves. Fire just one of Sam's aids, with their benefits and salary that would more than equal the difference.

Where have all the quasi-religious, evangelical Friends of Trees gone? No appeals to purchase leafy specimens for curb strips? Shouldn't they be reminding our alleged mayor that his actions have moved their organization to the abyss of hypocrisy?

In the absence of any hope for rationality in City Hall regarding this matter, there is always the possibility of the unexpected: two Januaries ago, while shoveling the four-inch deep muck in front of my home, a double sawbuck, stained umber by the tannins, emerged. Jackson grinned. The discovery was nearly exhilarating.

Those pesky basic services getting in the way of a truly sustainable and multi-modal city. Isn't one of those multi-modes the streets of Portland (where all of those leaves will end up)? Fire a couple of sustainability aids and get back to work Sam.

Maybe if someone pointed out to the city how dangerous it will be for bicyclists with all those leaves in the road the city will come up with a solution really fast. It seems that bicyclists are the only group that receive concessions from the city.

billb - is that a "Free Speech" event or a special event for which you must get a permit :)

The cost of the depots was greater than necessary by the method the City used to run them - unlike the neighborhood clean-ups in the spring, where one pulls in front of a large dumpster and unloads one's yard debris, garbage, etc. directly into the dumpster, the City had everyone dump their leaves in the parking lot, then City employees driving big rig equipment moved the leaves around and eventually pushed/dropped them into the dumpsters. I know most of the depots were well attended, but half a dozen dumpsters (which the City probably owns) lined up with folks directly pushing the leaves into the dumpsters could have been run far more cheaply than these have been run.

The other thing - if the City knew these weren't going to happen, PBOT knew during the budget process this spring. For small stipends, the City probably could have encouraged neighborhood groups, non-profits, etc. to run the depots with some volunteer labor. And, they had time to organize this.


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