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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 30, 2011 10:43 AM. The previous post in this blog was Hard to believe. The next post in this blog is Have a great weekend. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Friday, September 30, 2011

Portland leaf tax collection didn't go so well after all

Last year, when the City of Portland instituted its leaf tax, the surprising news was that thousands of Portlanders were readily paying it, even though it was voluntary. More than a third of affected residents were said to have pungled up. That didn't sound right then, and we've still got our doubts.

But whatever came in, it apparently wasn't anywhere near what they were expecting. An alert reader points out this passage from the city's current budget document:

Wonder what the "collection issues" are. To us, the only issue is why anyone would be fool enough to send the wastrels at Portland City Hall a nickel more than they absolutely have to.

Comments (25)

Leaf Collection shortfall issues probably are contract bill collector fees.

Just need to find a stamp and I'll be mailing in my opt-out form. What a clusterf**k this whole program has been. There's always plenty of money for streetcars and condos and sports stadiums, but never enough for basic services like stepped-up street cleaning during the leaf season. But fine, if there's no money, just end the program outright and fine property owners whose leaves are creating a safety hazard or storm-drain blockage. Instead we get a convoluted system of schedules and fees and opt-outs, as well as a snazzy mailer and website, all promoted with happy double-talk as "look at this wonderful service we're offering!" They wanted to save money, but with people opting out and all of staff time and attendant salaries and bennies that are going into planning and implementing the program they'll be looking at a net loss.

Eric, if you can manage to get to the internet (and your comments strongly suggest that you can), you can save the stamp. Though, of course, your Postal Service would thank you for using one.

The opt-out card has the property address and the leaf-removal account number they use on it; the online opt-out form only asks for name and phone number. I want to be sure the opt-out is correctly applied, and can't take any chances given the hash they made of the process last year (see Steve Duin's column of earlier this week).

PBOT has plenty of money!

How do I know?

They just spent thousands putting speed bumps on Alameda street against the wishes of the residents.

If they can waste money delaying fire trucks and ambulances, they have too much money.

They spent more thousands on bike lanes and bike only (almost) streets.

It is time for a complete house cleaning at city hall.

Thanks
JK

"To us, the only issue is why anyone would be fool enough to send the wastrels at Portland City Hall a nickel more than they absolutely have to."

I was so outraged when voters in 2004 approved the Multnomah County (flat, no deductions) income tax I didn't threaten to leave, I did. It's not always just "something" in Portland, it is so many, too many, of them.

...It's not always just "something" in Portland, it is so many, too many, of them.

Agree.
Enough already! In my view, it is bordering on abuse.
We do have lives and don't need all this interference/plans over us. Way too much busy work...just take care of basics and the people might be happy for a change instead of shaking heads week after week wondering what idea they will force on us next.

I contend the fee is illegal, but for different reasons than Jack thinks it is illegal.

I defy anyone to find anything in state or local laws that mandate that property owners keep the streets abutting their properties free of leaves.

[Please ... someone ... anyone ... show me any law or ordinance that says I must pick up the leaves that are on city streets!]

This is important because the city now allows opting out only if you (1) have no leaves, or (2) take care of the leaves yourself.

Sad, I guess this means not to expect potholes or traffic slowdowns to be fixed soon - if ever.

Here are the administrative rules regarding street leaf removal program.

http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=27478&a=325456

Sue the bastards and ask for legal fees if you win.

Here is the portion of the City Charter dealing with property owner responsibility for streets:

http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=28869

Still found nothing saying that property owners abutting city streets are responsible in any way for leaf pick up.

Garage Wine,
Well your insurance company might have something to say about it if someone slipped and fell due to your negligence removing hazards from your property.

Pistolero: I hope your joking. I don't own the street in front of my house. According to the city code cited above, when the city took over the street, my obligations to maintain the street were transferred to the city.

Sidewalks are yours, streets, I agree, city property. Remember, they "let" you park in front of your house unless they rent it too you.

Sidewalks & streets are public ROW--they are controlled by jurisdiction.

This is one of those times when I wish I had so much money I could hire a huge hauler, fill it with leaves and compost too, and just go and dump it all on the grounds of the city hall.
Make that several huge trucks!

I have no trees that drop leaves therefore I shall not pay their silly "fee"...

Garage Wine is absolutely correct that leaves that fall on the street are the city's responsibility, not the homeowner's.

As an extension of the (city's) logic that I, the homeowner, has a responsibility to keep the street adjacent to my property clear of debris, I should be able to have a vehicle illegally stored in front of my home towed. But I can't.

It seems to me the city wants to take responsibility when it is convenient for them (e.g. allowing free vehicle storage on the streets) but wants to the property owner to assume responsibility when it is inconvenient for them (e.g. fall leaf cleaning). Can the city have it both ways? A legal challenge to the leaf tax would certainly be interesting, to say the least.

Patsy,
A legal challenge to much of what they do would certainly not only be interesting,
but is well past the point of desperately being needed!!

Another angle related to this issue has occurred to me. As we all know, the city has big plans to extend streetcars to every corner of Portland. As streetcar lines expand, they are sure to go into areas with a lot more trees overhead than the current downtown lines. I'm sure streetcars can go over most leaf debris with ease, but how many inches' build up will cause a problem? Will property owners along the new lines have to keep leaves off the tracks so the streetcar doesn't derail? Will the city clean these streets more often, charging adjacent property owners' a special tax?

Interesting angle,
however, the plan may be to just get rid of most trees, only some very little street trees will be left in our green pdx.
That may be why the nice trees on Lincoln were recently chopped down - for the rails!

clinamen: for all your moaning, do you even need to pay this fee?

Re: "Garage Wine is absolutely correct that leaves that fall on the street are the city's responsibility, not the homeowner's."

Patsy,

Try getting Parks & Recreation to acknowledge responsibility for
the leaves from city parks.

Doesn't matter, we all pay anyway.
Did you see the $300,000 shortfall in the budget due to Leaf Program collection issues?

My complaint is with the constant interference in our lives with the city's agenda and busy work.

Happen to have evergreens where I live, but far too many of them have been slaughtered to make room for development. So until you have walked in my shoes and witnessed what I have, you have no clue.

It is time you take a peek behind the curtain, Aaron!


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