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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't fear the sweeper

Has anybody heard how the City of Portland is planning to collect the Sam-Rand leaf removal tax from households in the affected inner city neighborhoods? The leaf sweepers are scheduled to come through our block on Saturday, and we're thinking about having some fun with them. We'll rake up our own leaves on Friday, document the cleanliness of the gutter with a photo, then park our vehicles in front of the house so that the sweeper has to go around them. Then when we get the bill for leaf removal, we'll say, "We never got the service." If they insist that we owe the $15, we'll argue that it's a property tax and violates the city charter, the state constitution, or both. Who knows how far we'll get with that?

But it would be helpful to know which bureaucratic machine we'll be up against. Does anybody out there know how the billing, collection, and enforcement are going to go? Does the city even know?

Comments (20)

Randy Leonard sends Storm Large over to bore you into paying.

They'll assess the fees at the source -- but seriously, these idiots are going to promote the clear-cutting of the neighborhoods. How green was my Stumptown....

Meanwhile, GREAT idea you came up with, Jack!

This conspiracy may well become widespread.

p.s. -- Don't have time to do the look ups, but beware those ordinances, etc., that require alternate-side street parking on sweeping days (or the functional equivalent)....those tickets can be pricey! Maybe use that ol' "back east" parking chairs trick. The sweeper driver's not gonna get out to move 'em, esp. if everybody's doin' it.

On our neck of the woods the sweepers are preceded by towtrucks.

From this article , it sounds like the city will bill us directly based on property owner records from the Water Bureau. However, it also sounds like they don't have the full process figured out yet -- particularly an opt-out procedure -- so expect much confusion and pi**ed off people. In our neighborhood, one of the two sweeping days is today, and most of the trees here still have all of their leaves on the branches, so we'd be paying $15 for nothing.

I can't help but think that if Sam would cut his staff in half, he'd still get to have about as many sycophants as his mentor, Mother Vera, had and the salaries and benefits saved would add up to just about the $800,000 the city says the leaf-removal service costs.

Thank goodness that I live in those Godawful, sprawling, auto-centric suburbs of Washington County.

We don't put up with crap like that. We have well maintained streets and we even voluntarily pay an additional property tax just to improve our streets. We don't have potholes and every street is paved out here. Many streets - especially all new streets - have nice wide bike lanes AND sidewalks; virtually all parks have well maintained bike paths. In fact I have a bike path just close to my home that I can ride all the way up to the Portland city line with just one interruption of the path (in which I have bike lanes there) - then it's street riding the rest of the way (without bike lanes).

And the city is still happy to sweep our streets; I don't have overflowing storm drains, and I can drop off my leaves for free.

I wish I could click "Like" on Jon's comment.

Go, Jack!!!

Leave your car on the street? Oh, read the fine print! They say they are going to barricade off the streets. Then send the pussy posse out with the sweepers to TAG AND TOW vehicles that clog the process!

So rather than take Jack's idea and clean everything up, I'm sweeping EVERYTHING over the curb and SAM can take it to the leaf depot for me !

Far be it from me to discourage any demonstration of subversive intention by the endangered American middle class, but isn't it far too early to sweep the streets clear of autumn leaves? So few have fallen that this gesture by the divisive, vindictive, spendthrift, alleged mayor of this city is essentially futile. Premature. A grab for residents' pocketbooks and not a city service at all.

Regarding the particular neighborhood that includes NE 23rd and 24th along the two blocks south of Fremont, much of the real estate therein is church property, which, according to the flyer previously published in this forum, will not be billed for leaf removal. If the assessment for leaf removal were actually a fee, would not the parochial institution be liable for it? It must, therefore, be a tax. Perhaps this avenue of resistance will prove more productive.

I have another idea: What if you charged a small fee ($1 or $2) to folks who don't live in the designated areas to drop off their excess leaves on the street in front of your house?

If the city gives property owners the option of fixing sidewalks rather than have the city do it and then bill them . . . and if farmers or property owners can post their property boundaries not to be sprayed with toxic chemicals for weed control, then I don't understand why the city can't give property owners the option of cleaning up their own sidewalks and curbs and documenting that they've done so.

The only reason I can think of that they wouldn't is that they don't want to pay for someone to field the applications and then follow-up to see that the property owner does the work.

Still, they presumably have people who have to do this kind of checking with sidewalk repair and tree removal so why couldn't those people - or that department - simply add the leave removal applications to their pile? (no joke intended).

The City could always move one of the dozens of support people, Tweeters and bloggers surrounding the Mayor into position since heaven knows they are already used to shoveling stuff that's far more offensive.

here in NW the COP leaf troops bring the crackhead towtruck mafia thru towing every car in sight. those borderline crimi9nals race around at 50mph all day stealing cars from the tow/leaf streets.

Hi Jack:
So what happens if you don't have street trees? Am I still going to be charged (taxed) for the street sweep service?
Or another possibility, what if I get out there the day before and rake up all the leaves in the street and compost them in my own garden; will I get a leaf compost credit?? That would be rich, although very unlikely.
Keep on truckin'

If everybody who is assessed a leaf removal fee simply refuses to pay it, what will happen? They can't come after all of us.

They are going to charge us cleaning up the leaves that they talked us in to planting as street trees.

When my neighbors and I complained about our street not being swept because we have no off-street parking (because we live on an old 'streetcar street') the city stiffed us and refused to provide a schedule (for fear that we'd shovel ALL the leaves in our yards into the street

Tree City USA will hear about this. We'll lose all sorts of Green awards. They'll be crying in their accumulated leaves.

Here is the form for opting out of the city leaf removal:


I am composting my leaves, as usual. They actually make great compost.

Remember all that surplus money for sewers that our esteemed City Council decided to spend on bioswales? What a gift it would've been to use some of that money to sweep up the leaves instead of dinging us all again, and again, and again. Or, gosh, what if they had actually LOWERED our sewer bills with those dollars?

Wishing I could afford to move out of the city and avoid all these excess fees and rates. I've about had it with this city, and I'm a fourth generation Portlander.

Frank, thanks for the opt-out form. I'll be using it.

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