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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to not pay the Portland "leaf removal fee"

The City of Portland's new "leaf removal fee" -- $30 a year for some of us -- apparently isn't going to be mandatory, after all. It appears that you'll be able to opt out if you can prove that you cleaned up your own leaves.

And of course, there's a form you'll have to fill out, attaching your proof.

One problem is that the annual sweeping is about to begin, if it hasn't already begun, and none of the details about the new system, including billing procedures or this available exemption, have been explained to the public. Hard feelings are sure to follow -- and many wasted hours hassling over the money.

What a dopey, dopey City Hall we have. But hey, go by streetcar!

Comments (15)

The link in the document to a description of the "leaf removal districts" is wrong. The correct link is:


I wonder how many dollars are going to be wasted on city time spent hassling people over payment/non-payment of this fee.

So, it costs the city $800,000 to remove leaves from the street last year to prevent the sewers from clogging, but they had an extra $20 million in the budget for non water/sewer bike lanes.

Just remember they do street sweeping/leaf removal for FREE in Gresham..

First they came for my leaves
but I didn’t speak up because I have no trees

Actually I have many(here’s one of them)fortunately though I live outside the districts.

But it’s still one of those long and slippery slopes(which, unfortunately, I’ve got too).

Perhaps the City could also fill my fridgerator for a Service fee, fill my car with some fictional fuel, and turn off my water even if I want my grass to die.

The Supreme Soviet People's Republic of Portland Kommisar of Portland requires it as such. At least the communists didn't fee and fine the public - they just killed off anyone that opposed the welfare state. I suppose that's one way to improve policy acceptance - fees and Soviet-era forms.

The City of Longview, WA still seems to do some of the work for "FREE":

From the City of Longview, WA Website:

Leaf Removal

The Street Division focuses on the need to remove fallen leaves from City-owned trees so that vehicles and pedestrian traffic can move safely throughout the City. Street crews using shovels, pitchforks, loaders and dump trucks load and haul leaves to pre-designated areas for City composting.

Even the City of Vancouver, WA website offers helpful incentives to residents :

"FREE Disposal Coupon "Leaves" City Streets Sparkling"...

The neighbors to the north may not have street cars, trams or glitzy condos but they sure seem to have a friendlier attitude toward mundane municipal duties.

This leaf removal thing is a tax, not a fee. You pay the tax based on where you live and it has nothing to do with your contribution to the number of leaves in the street.

More importantly, the tax and its implementation is very likely illegal. If it goes unchallenged, the city has opened the door to all sorts of ways to get around tax limitations by simply labeling any new assessment as a fee.

For example, if you live in a district with old sewer pipes, you can now be assessed a "sink hole fee" to cover repairs to streets that collapse when a sewer pipe fails. And if rats spill into the neighborhood from the ruptured pipes, you can be assessed a "vector control fee." The list goes on and on and on.

By the time were done, the only thing your property taxes will pay for will be Sam the Scam's trips to Europe and giveaways to Vestas and the condo weasels.

Gotta say, this really pisses me off! I always pick up all my leaves and dispose of them gradually in official recycling bin. No I have to prove it?

I'll send 'em a photo of my eight yard debris cans that are filled, and used to fill the green rolling cart every two weeks.

Maybe also pass around the digital camera with the neighbors showing us sweeping the street - before the City comes through and makes a mess of things.

Wait 'til people get the bills for this at the end of the month. Then there will be a real uproar, as the people that have tuned this out so far realize they owe the City $15 or $30. Particularly if they have no street trees, and if they are renters dunned for a fee the landlord is supposed to pay (or is it the other way around? Another point the city is not clear about).

My prediction: the City either suspends the program or lets anyone who complains or makes a half-a**ed effort at opting out skip paying the fee for this year, then takes a year to fix the problems it wouldn't have had had it done the proper design and outreach in the first place. Meanwhile, Sam will tweet how this mess was actually all planned as part of his bold initiative to promote composting, that the $800,000 in "savings" will go to either bike lanes or Milwaukie Light Rail, and that he is hiring another staffer to serve as his "leaf czar".

Maybe that SoWhat office building with cells is going to be used for leaf tax scofflaws:

"The City is authorized to employ any legal means to recoup leaf removal fees ..." (PDF)

Could the city or state draft some of the folks who are on long-term unemployment benefits to pitch in a few day's work to clean up the leaves?


The city spends thirty years encouraging residents to plant street trees.

Then, when the trees reach maturity, they add a fee to clean up the portion of the leaves which fall in the street and must be swept up by city crews.

I was under the impression that I paid property taxes to provide city services. I can see that is not the case.

woo-hoo - looked closely at the map a co-worker printed, and I am NOT in leaf-removal hell - though I guess that means the city will never clean the streets here in Roseway ever again.

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