Good news Portland: You no longer have to pay the city to remove leaves from your street.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced today that it is removing its leaf fee—which was put in place in 2010 during the recession to help the city recover costs associated with street cleaning in tree-lined neighborhoods.
While the service may seem trivial, last month's thunderstorm—which, in less than an hour, flooded the Laurelhust neighborhood in calf-deep rainwater—showed what can happen when storm drains are clogged.
For nearly the last decade, homeowners have been charged $15 by the city for leaf removal, while commercial and multifamily buildings were charged $65. But according to PBOT's interim director, Chris Warner, most people just opted out of the program to avoid the fee.
"The fee we started collecting in 2010 never met its goal of covering the city's costs. In addition, the cost of administering the fee have been quite significant, adding up to almost 20% of program costs," Warner said in a statement. "We decided it made financial and policy sense to return to providing this service free of charge."
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly adds that the policy of charging for leaf clean-up was ineffective from the start.
"It never met its goal as a cost recovery measure," she says. "By ending it, we will save on administrative costs, our streets and storm drains will be cleared and Portlanders will have one less fee to pay."
The Portland Mercury first reported last month on Eudaly's plan to end the fee.
This year, leaf removal is scheduled to start Nov. 9. PBOT crews will patrol designated "leaf districts" collecting debris. Revenue for the removal will come from transportation dollars, which also fund snow and other vegetation removal and pothole repairs.
A map of the city's service areas along with scheduled leaf clean-up days can be found here.