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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 5, 2010 7:38 PM. The previous post in this blog was Have a great weekend. The next post in this blog is Hughes leads Stacey by 831. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

For the record

The street sweepers will be coming through our block tomorrow, but they will not need to sweep any leaves from in front of our place. This afternoon we raked, swept, and dumped into the worm compost bin all the fallen leaves, and now you can eat off our street:







We won't be paying the City of Portland leaf tax -- not without an order from the Oregon Supreme Court.

Comments (38)

Go Jack!! I hope many follow your lead.

You tell 'em, Jacko!

All you need now is some Yellow Police Line ribbon to keep the sweeper away. I'll bet someone in your neighborhood has saved some.

Nice. Good public documentation. Not too bad a day for raking leaves either.

Could you send your team over here on Dec 2?

All you need now is to hope that the wind doesn't blow all of your neighbors' leaves down the street tonight so they end up in front of your house.

By the way, what is the actual biomass of leaves once they've been ground up? Tree removal companies use chippers to grind up solid wood into sawdust, so why can't the city come up with a street sweeping equivalent that simply grinds up leaves on the spot?

"... so why can't the city come up with a street sweeping equivalent that simply grinds up leaves on the spot?"

Or compress them like our garbage.

The possibility of a private enterprise gathering the leaves, composting them, and then selling the compost could be made a reality by someone with a little vision. After all, what does the city do with the leaves?? Anyone know? I don't. But I figure they either A) dump them - what a waste of a green, sustainable commodity..., or B) sell them to a major composter who then sells the compost at a profit.

I don't know why this can't be made into a new industry. Maybe the city could pay a private contractor to do the job? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,ha!!! Sorry, I crack myself up sometimes.

You know what would be funny - Sam telling Randy to pay up. He's saying, I told you I bet I can make Jack pick up his own leaves!

Jack, as much as I disagree with the way the city handled this, I have to take issue with the reaction to the change in policy.

Wealthier neighborhoods have been receiving a free service that other neighborhoods did not enjoy. Others have had to dispose of their own leaves and also deal with cuts in city drop-off locations, I believe.

Also, I've been appalled in years past to see how many in the neighborhoods with leaf pick-up left their sidewalks and streets covered in piles of wet leaves. It's been a mess and a hazard for people and bikes, and gasp...even cars, for years.

I'm sorry that the "City that Works" actually doesn't, but I'm glad that these neighborhoods are going to need to be responsible for leaves like the rest of the city.

The only thing missing in those photos to make them golden is a copy of today's newspaper.

I never asked these clowns to pickup the leaves in front of my house. And I'm not asking them to do so now. Just leave me alone and stop sending me bills for bulls**t. Thanks.

The City has a compost yard on N.E. 33rd it shares with the homeless camp, "Dignity Village". They receive leaves with a nominal fee as well as sell them as compost.

Here is the response I got from the city regarding the leaf pick up tax. It was sent by a someone who goes by the name Leaf Removal:

Eric,

I am sorry for the delay in replying to you.

Since this is our first year with this program we know we will have some growing pains in our policy and we appreciate your questions about the different aspects of it.

First, this is a fee and not a tax, and we understand how they might be confused. Gas tax and vehicle registrations fund the Bureau of Transportation's maintenance budget. No property or income tax dollars are used for our maintenance budget.

The City's fee for leaf removal services is in compliance with City financial policy (FIN-2.06). Transportation adheres to City policy regarding services that benefit a specific user and whose quantity, quality, and/or number of units as may be specified should be paid for by fees and charges. The fee and program structure take into account the following:

- the degree to which a service provides a general benefit in addition to the private benefit provided to a specific business, property, or individual,

- economic impact of new or expanded fees, especially in comparison with other governments within the metropolitan area,

- the true or comprehensive cost of providing a service, including the cost of fee collection and administration,

- the impact of imposing or increasing fees on economically at-risk populations and on businesses, and

- the overall achievement of City goals.

The fee will cover full costs of services for the leaf removal program.

It has been mandated that the City provide a way for leaf removal customers to opt out of the leaf removal service and fee if they can show that they provided the service themselves. The City has identified alternative leaf removal strategies that could qualify a customer for an exemption to the fee.

For this year's program, if you have no trees or a small enough volume of leaves that you don't need extra yard debris bags for a garbage hauler, we ask that you submit photographs of your frontage showing that you have a very limited volume of street leaves. If you collect and compost your street leaves, we ask that you submit photographs of your composting process on your property.

The concept of the dates that "correspond to your property's scheduled cleanings" means we want the receipts to identify that the work took place on or near the date of the cleaning, not specifically the date the crews came through. The dates on your receipts or other proof of payment must be on or before the date of the City's scheduled cleaning.

The City will send a bill for the City-provided leaf removal service by mail to each customer. The bill will be sent the Monday following the customer's only or final sweep. If the bill is unpaid within 28 days of the original bill date, the City will send a notice of the unpaid bill. Interest will accrue on unpaid bills at the rate of 1 percent.

[I think that "1 percent" is a typo.]

In the letter that Eric posted, Leaf Removal states:

"No property or income tax dollars are used for our maintenance budget."

Where does this department think its funding comes from, the "tooth fairy"?

No way does the $30 fee, even if collected from a majority of the affected property owners even come close to paying for such a service.

Jack- for those who have senior citizen neighbors...give them a hand and help them get away from this $30 added cost. This group is getting hit hard with these nuisance fees with no increase in Social Security again this year.

What buffoons. The costs of administering this program will outstrip the $15 and $30 checks they'll get. Can you imagine how many exemption applications and photos they'll have to process? Then there will be the administrative appeals (and then court, I assume) when people are denied the exemption.

The City has a compost yard on N.E. 33rd it shares with the homeless camp, "Dignity Village". They receive leaves with a nominal fee as well as sell them as compost.

They sell the bums as compost? now that's innovation!

"The costs of administering this program will outstrip the $15 and $30 checks they'll get. Can you imagine how many exemption applications and photos they'll have to process?"

Amen. Bad policy poorly implemented.

Most interesting.

The only residents to be charged are those who demand the service which willbenefit a specific user and whose quantity, quality, and/or number of units as may be specified?

So...If the City DoT consistantly FAILS to sweep the street in front of my house, I can bill them? I have received NO benefit from the city sweepers. To get leaves swept off my street, my neighbors and I have to rake them all down to a location where the sweeper can sweep them.

THEN...I will not, and I strongly recommend that others not, consistantly place leaves from the street in home composters. Leaves which have spent any appreciable time in the street during wet conditions (now, when might that be?) will accumulate petrochemical byproducts and other toxins which build up in the street (carbon and heavy-metals tainted oils, break lining residue, and the like) along with the glass chips, waxed and plasticized paper bits, plastic chunks, and other tidbits which don't biodegrade.
I have no desire to add any of that to the soil I intend to grow foods in.

For the same reason, I'd steer clear of any 'composted product' the City is selling (or giving away) as an afterproduct of street sweeping.

Okay, so we have two very small trees that shed their leaves long before the first leaf sweep in early November. BUT, our neighbor across the street has a HUGE tree and they never rake. On our block, the leaves always end up on the south side of the street due to wind - one can drive by and notice the disparity with all the leaves blown to one side of the street.

So, every year we dutifully rake our NEIGHBOR's leaves that end up on our property even though we have a tiny, tiny amount of our own.

Sure, we can snap photos showing our dismal trees, but if one were to drive by, we would still be hit with the leaf tax thanks to our non-raking neighbors. Meanwhile, their yard has nary a leaf!

And this is just, how?

Where does this department think its funding comes from, the "tooth fairy"?

If you read their letter, you can see clearly where they say they think it comes from.

Allan L: sorry, my bad.

But with the city encouraging people to go by means other than personal vehicles, maintenance funding may be reduced as an unintended consequence of getting residents out of their vehicles.

I still think that this program will cost more than whatever funds they might collect.

Portland: "The City That Works" hard to be more inefficient.

I bet they'll charge you a $100 fee for "wasting their time."

I don't live in a "leaf removal district", yet there are a lot of huge deciduous trees on my street. I was out for a walk this morning, and took not of the huge swaths of leaves in the street here and there. Some are diligent about raking their leaves off of the streets and sidewalks, while others choose to let the leaves decay in place. We all know what a treacherous gooey mess that creates on the sidewalks when it rains. There are no negative consequences for property owners in my neighborhood who ignore their leaf removal duty. I think Portland's leaf tax is unfair, in that it targets those in some neighborhoods, but not in others.

an unintended consequence of getting residents out of their vehicles.

Too true: it's a bit like the two state initiatives: one, to double the vehicle registration fee (which was done a few years ago) on cars like the Prius, that don't use enough fuel to pay their share of the gallonage tax; and the other, coming soon, to track the movements of all vehicles so that the tax can be charged on the basis of miles drive, thus removing the intolerable inequity of fuel efficiency.

Leaf me alone, dammit!

Don't Sweep On Me

I suggest we all rake our leaves into piles that spell out messages to the city. I have enough leaves to make the letters F and U .

'You know what would be funny - Sam telling Randy to pay up. He's saying, I told you I bet I can make Jack pick up his own leaves!' Leonard always has to have the last word/laugh so he'll head over to bojacks house and 'accidently' trip over that long crack running along the driveway and then sue the crap out of him.......

THE TRIMET FEE

I think I have a solution for the financial troubles at TriMet. Require every resident in the district buy a bus pass. I'm not sure what the opt out would be, but it would probably involve some heavy lifting or perhaps security work.

The City swept my neighborhood (Alameda) North of Fremont on Thurs last week. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to pull a 'Jack' and get my frontage cleared. Like many folks have commented, I have two small trees that don't drop until Dec. I sent a note to the Leafremoval email address and asked for a re-schedule. I received a prompt response indicating the City would consider that next year.

Back to Thursday: when I returned home from work, it didn't look like they had actually cleaned. The city scrapped the leaves, with the plows I suspect. But they didn't follow with with the street sweepers, as they've done every year since I lived in the neighborhood. So all the debris smaller than a leaf, mud, etc was all left at the curb. My wife even asked if anything had happened. I took images and happy to share. I'm wondering if this would be considered 'half' a job and therefore I should only be subject to $7.50 for this weeks compulsory fee. Or if the service now only includes just the initial scrape, and no street sweeping. (???)

My other concern is that someone park at my curb, unbeknownst to me, while i'm at work and during the sweeping day. I wonder how I might get relief should that happen. I'll probably get a reply from the City saying they'll consider that scenario next year.

What a disaster.

At least your yard and street look sharp.

But seriously, I can see at least a dozen leaves at the bottom of the last photo. You want your exculpatory evidence to be unimpeachable.

The property line is just below the water meter.

No leaf removal service in my neighborhood either. I have some big trees, and I am pretty diligent about keeping the sidewalk raked. I also rake the parking strip, and if it looks like leaves are clogging up the storm drain, I will rake them away from the drain. But aside from fallen branches, what falls on the street stays on the street. Why should I lend City Hall a hand when they offer my neighbors and I no help whatsoever in dealing with the real litter problem around here : vehicles illegally stored on the street?

Yeah! That's a good point.

Where do I send the bill for my regular clearance of the corner drain?

As we all know, they don't plough snow on residential streets either. They do send the street-sweeper through a few times a year, but with all the illegally-stored vehicles on my street, a lot of the street doesn't get swept. Really, I don't know why they bother.

Jack, I'd like to see the look on your face when you read Brad Schmidt's 11/12 Oregonlive article on the Leaf fee removal program. You just can't make this stuff up!

It will probably be as easy as the fee they say they do not collect for Storm Water.
I pay it and we do not even have drains, With a 300 foot by 90 foot lot my storm water never gets close to the street.
The one question where they demand a tree count including hieght has me confused. Do taller trees 200 feet from the road create more run off.


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