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Poll shows Portlanders split about 50/50 on $8 household ‘street fee’

Posted by on April 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Press Conference for Transpo Fee -1-2

Commissioner Steve Novick announcing the
poll results at City Hall today.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Michael Andersen also contributed to this story.

About half of Portland’s English-speaking voters are in favor of an $8-a-month household fee to pay for street repairs and improvements, a city poll testing public attitudes found. The results were announced today at a City Hall press conference led by PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick.

The poll, first covered by BikePortland last week and expanded on by Willamette Week, found 48 percent of Portlanders would oppose an $8 fee, while 47 percent would support it. After the city added details about how the fee might work, the tally shifted to 52 percent in favor.

A higher $12 fee that would offer more benefits seemed slightly less popular. The 800 Portlanders polled in the professionally commissioned phone survey reported 50 percent opposition and 44 percent support, shifting to 51 percent support after more details were offered.

The pollster, DHM Research, wrote in its report that this is “not a statistically significant difference” between opposition and support for either the $8 or $12 fee proposals. The poll had a margin of error of ±3.5%.

Here’s DHM’s chart for how people responded to the street fee option both before and after learning more about how it would work:

However, Portlanders who opposed the idea seemed to do so passionately. “About twice as many voters indicated that they are strongly opposed to the fee (27-30%) as those who strongly support it (15-16%),” DHM wrote. Even so, the poll results seemed to bolster Novick’s confidence that his effort to raise new revenue for transportation is on the right track.

One of Novick’s themes at today’s press conference was that people seemed to give more support to the street fee idea as they learned more about how it would be implemented. When asked by a member of the media if he was concerned that the poll results showed only a narrow majority of support for the new fees, Novick chalked that up to the fact that the conversation around transportation funding is just getting started.

An $8 monthly fee would come to $96 per year per household. A $12 fee is $144 per year.

DHM also tested response to six other “alternative funding mechanisms” but none of them came close to the level of support that the street fee received. Those alternatives included a city sales tax, a 1% income tax (which Novick said was his favorite), city bonds paid by property taxes, or a tax based on 1/10th of state income tax.

They didn’t ask what people would think about a gas tax increase. I asked Novick why they left that option out of the poll. He referred to a (non-public) study done last year that showed a high level of opposition to the idea. He also told me that, “People have a visceral negative reaction to a gas tax and we weren’t about to take that on.”

DHM found that 74 percent of voters said they’d be more likely to support the fee if it included preventative maintenance on roads, major repairs to roads in poor condition, flashing safety beacons at dangerous intersections and sidewalks along streets that are used by students and seniors to reach schools and transit stops.

Promising a dedicated transportation fund that could not be used for other purposes also helped, with 73 percent saying that’d increase their support. So did a possible discount or waiver for low-income households, with 67 percent saying that’d increase their chances of support.

Here’s the DHM graphic for how people responded to the top three most popular implementation options:

In remarks at the press conference today, Novick addressed how he’s handling the estimated 15-20% of Portlanders who recognize the need for new revenue but think the city should find it elsewhere. This group of people could be the swing votes that make or break a city proposal. Here’s more from Novick:

“What I’ve been explaining to people is that the property taxes that go to the city almost all of them go to police, fire, parks, housing, and other services — and I haven’t heard a groundswell of support for cutting those services to shift the money to transportation. State income tax goes overwhelmingly to health care, education, to prison, and the state isn’t going to cut those or give us more money for transportation. So I think we’re going to have to continue explaining that the other taxes people pay go to services they value as well.”

Also on the education front, Novick unveiled a new tactic he plans to start using more as the media and public scrutiny around this effort heat up. One of the display boards at today’s event compared the cost of the potential street fee with the cost of auto ownership:

Press Conference for Transpo Fee -2

As Novick walked the assembled media through the chart, here’s what he said:

“Another thing I think we need to explain to people is that the amount of money we spend on our cars is much, much more than we would be asking people to spend on roads and sidewalks. Cars are expensive things… You spend a heck of a lot on your car and a car isn’t much use of you without a road. And we’re not going to ask you to spend anywhere near as much on this fee as you’re spending every month on your car.”

“We definitely want to talk to the bike community about what are the things at the very top of the list.”
— Steve Novick, Commissioner of Transportation

So far, there are no specific projects in line for funding. Asked about that today, Novick told me they do plan to include some projects in the final ordinance language and they’re listening for public input as to what the top priority projects should be. “It’s definitely something we want to hear from the [upcoming] hearings… What do people really want?… And we definitely want to talk to the bike community about what are the things at the very top of the list.”

Novick and his team at PBOT will use these poll results to inform how they move forward. It remains undecided if the city will push the proposal through City Council or if they’ll put it out to a public vote. As for a timeline, Novick said he hopes to wrap things up in the next “couple of months.”

“We feel a real sense of urgency with this. It’s really true that the longer we wait the worse things will get.” Novick also recalled an experience he had in January as a school crossing guard at Prescott Elementary, where he showed up to mark the construction of new sidewalks. “I want to be able to go to more events like that where we are celebrating the completion of new sidewalks so kids can get safely to school; but we’re not going to be able to do that without more money.”

— Learn more and download a copy of the DHM report and presentation at PBOT’s website.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Patrick April 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Why are we taxing baised on household rather than income? Flat taxes impact the poor much harder than the better off.

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    • Blake April 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      Agree, that was the flaw with the arts tax last year. The counter-argument probably is that for the size of the tax, it is much more efficient and less costly to collect and monitor a flat $ amount than to do one based on individual/household income.

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  • JEFF BERNARDS April 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I ‘ll say it again RAISE THE GAS TAX AND MAKE DRIVERS PAY-that includes me (I drive)

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    • A.K. April 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Seriously. I’d rather pay an extra 5 cents on every gallon of gas I buy than a flat fee on each water bill I pay. Oh well.

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      • Bjorn April 10, 2014 at 4:54 pm

        Or increase the fees to park and add more meters. A fee charged only on households within the city is a direct subsidy to people who live outside the city and drive into Portland.

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        • JHB April 11, 2014 at 8:55 am

          People outside the city travel to Portland for a few reasons: to work, to visit friends, or to shop, or for cultural activities..

          If they are working/shopping/going to a show, the business they are traveling to would be paying the fee. That business would presumably recover their costs from their traveling customers. If they are coming to visit friends, then their friends’ residential street fee covers the visitor. So it really isn’t a subsidy for folks coming in from outside the city, except maybe those few folks who pass through without stopping. And those folks mostly use the interstates, so I don’t see the problem.

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          • Bjorn April 13, 2014 at 4:10 pm

            you are completely wrong, the fee is proposed to be per household so an employer or shop owner would pay nothing, while potentially having many employees or customers who drive on portland streets to get to work or shop but live outside the city limits.

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    • Mindful Cyclist April 11, 2014 at 9:20 am

      I have had my car for over 14 years now and it is no cherry, but gets me places that would be difficult via bike or public transport.

      No joke! Look at the daily back up on I-5 coming from the North or South. Look at the backup on the Sunset Highway. These are all people that drive into Portland and use the roads that are not going to have to pay one red cent of this new “fee.”

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    • Ian Stude April 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Unfortunately, raising the gas tax won’t get the job done. Raising the gas tax at the state level results in $1 out of every $10 collected coming back to fund Portland streets. It just won’t move the needle very far by comparison to the city-wide utility fee. It’s not perfect, but I think this is really our best course of action if we want to make real progress on our maintenance backlog and lagging infrastructure.

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      • JEFF BERNARDS April 11, 2014 at 9:37 am

        Sorry Ian, I’m going to end up payiong more money with less going for roads. A whole new bureacracy needs to be established. There going to have a low income exclusion. It will cost $10 to evaluate someones request for an excemption. Gas Tax==You drive you pay. Clackamas county uses the Sellwood bridge more than Portlanders, yet they pay nothing. The same with the road fee, it’s infair that Portland has to constantly pay for what “outsiders” take from the city. My neighbor has 3 drivers/cars at their house. Me and my one car will pay the same yet they use the road three times as much as me. Again, the gas tax solves this problem.
        Studded Tires, until we talk about and change what is ruining the roads, what’s the point of fixing them?

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      • 9watts April 11, 2014 at 9:18 pm

        “Raising the gas tax at the state level … just won’t move the needle very far by comparison to the city-wide utility fee.”

        do you have some sources to back up your math? I’m genuinely curious. You do realize that Multnomah County has a (puny) gas tax. Presumably what you are saying about the state gas tax (which is news to me) is not true for the Multnomah Co. gas tax.

        I happen to believe exactly the opposite about the kind of $$ we could raise with a gas tax hike vs. a street fee, as I’ve noted here previously.

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      • Dan May 18, 2014 at 11:05 am

        Hi Ian:
        Your post is interesting, and I can accept that the gas tax may not be the best way to go. For the record, I am in favor of *massively* increased bike/ped/infrastructure funding, to fix and improve our public goods, and I will happily pay whatever tax or fee is ultimately chosen because the need is dire. What baffles me, however, is why the city isn’t seriously considering a tax assessed on property value (added to the property tax bill), rather than this flat household fee. A property tax isn’t as progressive as income tax, and it doesn’t put the burden on fossil-fuel users for maintaining roads (as it ought to), but at least it is a rough proxy for wealth, and is thus far less regressive than a flat household fee. I don’t know how PBOT is proposing to collect this new fee, but I think they seriously underestimate how much it will feed an anti-fee backlash. The Arts Tax was I think a major blunder–people will resent (and resist) something that they have to affirmatively pay for (especially if they don’t even get a bill for it!), whereas if it adds to their property taxes they might grumble, but it’s part of an existing tax they already pay that fluctuates from year to year anyway, and for most people it’s part of their mortgage payment. Having another new, separate fee is a sure-fire way to stoking the awful anti-tax, anti-government sentiment that the right wing has been so successful at cultivating. So my strong preference would be for a property tax assessment that raises the much larger amount of money that the city REALLY needs to fund transportation infrastructure, rather than what they think is politically possible. What’s your take? Why wouldn’t that be a better route?

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        • Blake May 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm

          I think you are absolutely right about the impact of the Arts Tax and other taxes that are separate taxes on top of the other taxes have a huge potential for political backlash, as well as being regressive, infrequently paid and expensive to administer. If we want the things these taxes pay for let’s raise our taxes, either property or income taxes to pay for them and not dick around with small dollar amount, regressive uncollectable taxes (in terms of collections from people who don’t pay).

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  • Chris I April 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    How much money would each one raise? What percentage is administrative fees? How does this compare to the arts tax?

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    • Blake April 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      Arts Tax raised $8.0 million, and cost $0.97m to do so although $0.59m of it was “startup costs” which should be non-recurring, and the collection cost is capped at 5% (though the “Revenue Bureau anticipates the 5% average 5 year cost cap will ultimately be exceeded as a result of lost
      revenues”, i.e. a smaller denominator than they were expecting, not higher costs)


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  • davemess April 10, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I think if the city really wants to sell this they need to do a better job publicizing how the current budget, where the deficiencies are, and where this money would towards those.
    I think readers of this blog are probably a lot more knowledgeable about this than the general public. It would be good for the city to get that information out there.
    I could see a very common reaction being “I already pay taxes, what is the city already spending transportation money on?”

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    • q`Tzal April 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Open source budgeting : Oregon doesn’t have an intelligence agency so really there should be nothing to hide now and in the future.
      Every cent traceable on a public website coming in and going out. If our politicians need to hide fraud, graft and bribes they can do it off the books like the Mafiosa they aspire to.

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  • Blake April 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Yeah, I remember a good chart (I think it was on BikePortland) that showed what a tiny % of the city’s budget went towards transportation. Still a legitimate question of why it is not a bigger %, rather than needing its own tax which adds to the overall cost of collection vs. allocating a larger % of the budget towards transportation.

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    • davemess April 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      So how has our transportation network actually been built/maintained? Are we just massively in the red? I think when you ask for a brand new source of funding like this, people have a lot of questions.

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  • Mike April 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I’d be much more supportive of higher fees if we weren’t allowing studded tires for 5-6 months of the year.

    If your house is cold, close the windows BEFORE you turn the heat all the way up.

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  • kittens April 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    They can call it whatever they want, but the net impact is the same. When will voters get wise to these “fees” and recognize them for what they are, a tax which disproportionately effects the working poor? This political double speak is due to politicians own self-interest and unwillingness of voters to hear hard truths.

    I’m not opposed to paying more for a better transportation infrastructure, but it should be equitable and just.

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    • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Isn’t BES and the Water Bureau under attack because the fees they collected were not supposedly spent 100% on sewer and water projects?

      Just curious, how do you tell a motorist that five or ten cents more a gallon to repair roads, build sidewalks and improve bike routes is ‘fair’?

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      • 9watts April 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm

        “how do you tell a motorist that five or ten cents more a gallon to repair roads, build sidewalks and improve bike routes is ‘fair’?”

        By noting that sidewalks and bike routes both are derivative of the overwhelming presence of the automobile. Without autodom we wouldn’t need either, and in places where–and at times when–the automobile isn’t/wasn’t the dominant mode you wouldn’t find either.

        It is almost as clever as taxing cigarettes and spending the money on tobacco prevention and control programs that help stop children from starting to smoke and help tobacco users quit. Or do you feel the comparison isn’t valid?

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  • RH April 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Why don’t they just crowdfund the $$$ they need. Oh wait….probably very few would contribute anything….

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    • Adron April 10, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      There are actually some websites popping up dedicated to that. They’re actually doing rather well.

      I’ve been looking into it to see if we can get some public crowdfunding going to fund PBOT getting some actual dividers put between cars and bike lanes the way the original intent worked with bike lanes. Having actual bike lanes that acted more like cycle tracks would be a great improvement (albeit of course, this wouldn’t work where the bike lane is between the road and parked cars, but needs to be moved to between the parked cars and sidewalk.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Just want everyone to know that I’ve updated the story significantly since it was first posted.

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  • Scott H April 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    For God’s sake Novick, grow a pair use a gas tax or mileage tax and outlaw studded tires. Explain to the neanderthals how outdated our gas tax is if you’re going to waste your breathe.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Novick is too smart IMO to risk this effort by putting in anything that would be remotely controversial or that would allow things to get off-message. They’ve done a pretty dang good job so far of keeping this thing away from controversy and that’s it’s greatest strength IMO. The goal is to make something happen and the smart money is on sticking to the basics and not doing anything that will rile folks up or steer the well-crafted effort off-course.

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      • pixie April 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm

        Except this is controversial and riles plenty of people up. This is only the beginning of the pushback.

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        • JHB April 11, 2014 at 8:58 am

          Did you see the part of the article where 52% of people polled support the street fee?

          For what it’s worth, Tigard and other small Oregon cities charge a similar fee. So even in the less-enlightened suburbs of Portland this approach is not controversial.

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      • MaxD April 10, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        I am not sure I agree that engaging in marketing half-truths to avoid something that may be politically difficult is so smart.

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      • 9watts April 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm

        “They’ve done a pretty dang good job so far of keeping this thing away from controversy and that’s it’s greatest strength IMO.”

        We agree on a great many things, Jonathan, but on this I will again differ.
        How exactly do we know that a (proposed) jump in the local gas tax would be controversial? Any real or imagined controversy adhering to this or that policy choice is socially constructed, is advanced or retarded by what we say and do today. There is no basis whatsoever for saying that the gas tax was/is/always will be controversial, and all these other options, none of which got very high support in this poll, are somehow magically not controversial/can be mentioned without paying a political price, or whatever.

        Novick is playing dumb. If you tell a good story (and Novick is perfectly able to spin a good yarn about why our languishing Multnomah County gas tax @ 3 cents/gallon needs a lusty kick in the pants) all bets are off as to what could or couldn’t be un-controversial. Sure, we have a history of opinion makers in this country (and only in this country for some reason) telling each other and their publics that the gas tax is dead, is obsolete, is a dinosaur, etc. But this is just self-fulfilling blather, and does not help us solve the problems we face. In fact, precisely because the gas tax is such an excellent means of redressing a bit of the havoc that autodom has bequeathed us, avoiding the subject altogether is a dereliction of duty, fiscally irresponsible, nutty.

        $24 million/year for all this effort? How much has the city spent to date studying, floating, repackaging this particular effort over the past (I am told) seven + years? How much is administration going to eat away of this number?

        SteveG is correct here. If the City really means what they say about reducing carbon emissions, going forward, then cooking up a brand new policy, tax, and administrative apparatus to make those who bike and take the bus and walk increase the already substantial subsidies we pay to those still in their cars, is asinine.

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        • spare_wheel April 14, 2014 at 1:17 am

          a gas tax is a fiscal joke. far too many people in portland drive hybrids and increasingly electric vehicles. imo, this type of mildly progressive flat tax is a fine stop gap until we as a community do what is really necessary: progressive taxation of consumption.

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    • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      easy to say, not to do. run for office.

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  • Oliver April 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I’m having a “visceral reaction” right now. $763 Dollars a month on owning a car???

    I paid cash for my car 10 years ago and haven’t made a car payment since. I put about 40 dollars in gas in it once every three weeks. (that doesn’t include summer trips) We became a single car family when our second one died 2 years ago, and we decided that our house was more important than pouring money into another expensive depreciating asset.

    People who can afford to blow almost a grand a month on an automobile can afford to pay a little more in gasoline tax so they can drive 7 days a week.

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    • davemess April 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      No joke, I think I had a few years where I spent $1200 tops on anything car-related FOR THE WHOLE Year.
      People spending $278/month on payments are likely not going to need to spend $112/month on maintenance.

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    • Middle of the Road guy April 11, 2014 at 11:02 am

      similarly, people who do not own a car obviously have more disposable income and could also afford to pay more.

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      • 9watts April 11, 2014 at 9:11 pm

        “people who do not own a car obviously have more disposable income and could also afford to pay more”
        I guess we know different people.

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    • GlowBoy April 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      $763/month on car-related costs might seem outrageous to some of the low-car and no-car people here on BikePortland. But it is absolutely consistent with the published numbers I’ve seen from other sources, which show up in the newspaper at least once or twice a year. I think the more recent figures have been in the $9000/yr range for a typical driver, which I think means something like 15000 miles per year. Sorry, I can’t recall whether these studies are publishing average or median cost.

      Add up the monthly payments (or opportunity cost, for those few who buy cars with cash), insurance, maintenance and repairs, occasional parking costs, and fuel. Driving is expensive.

      Many of us here may be paying a lot less, but that’s because most of us are driving a lot less than typical Americans. Many of the costs are incremental, so if you’re racking up miles you’re also racking up dollars. By my calculations, it’s almost impossible to own a vehicle whose per-mile incremental cost (over and above the fixed costs like insurance and monthly payments) is less than about 30 cents per mile – IF you’re really honest about it (the one possible exception being those who do their own repairs, but they are nearly extinct, so I’m assuming the normal-person scenario of visiting a garage for anything more major than an oil change).

      One of the best-case scenarios is an nicely aging, reliable compact. Go too old, though, and the maintenance costs skyrocket if you’re driving a lot of miles: in my experience even the most reliable older cars still average at least 10 cents per mile in maintenance, and less reliable ones can be much higher. Go newer to cut the maintenance costs, and you end up with a higher monthly payment – and significant depreciation for those extra miles. Get a Prius and you’ll save on both gas and repairs, but the purchase premium wipes out any savings in the operating costs, compared with a new OR used economy car. Get an EV and you can really save on operating costs, but you’re pretty much looking at leasing, which will clobber you very hard for the extra miles.

      No way around it. I have done the math a lot of different ways, over and over again. Even with a relatively inexpensive, reliable, efficient car, it’s expensive to drive as much as the average American. The best way to save money on driving is to simply drive less.

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      • GlowBoy April 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        To be clear, in defending the accuracy of the cost-of-driving numbers presented by Novick I do NOT in any way mean to defend his rationale for such a regressive tax.

        Lots of lower-income people, many of whom have no option but to drive, typically spend less than that, so $12/mo is a larger proportionate burden. And a lot of poor people, many with no choice but to drive, are still spending several thousand per year on a car that is sucking up most of their disposable income. An additional $12/mo may be genuinely onerous.

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        • Blake April 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

          The simplicity of the flat $ amount (e.g. the Arts Tax) hides its regressivity, as does the low income exemption which is very low ($23,000 for a family of 4 or $11,000 for a single individual): http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/14poverty.cfm

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      • davemess April 12, 2014 at 9:13 am

        It’s in line, because they ARE those numbers (look in the bottom corner, they just took their numbers from AAA). These numbers don’t reflect any specificity to Portland (which I would have to guess do to it being more compact than most cities would be below the US average of miles driven).

        How did you do your calculations? We have a second car that I drive about once a week (about 3500 miles since last July). It gets an average of 30 miles/gallon, and I have gotten I think two oil changes during those 3500 miles (maybe bought $30 worth of oil on top of that). Even if we go with a VERY liberal $4.00/gallon estimate, my gas costs per mile are about 13 cents then. So lets add in the oil, $50 in oil changes (two) and even $100 for registration over that period (which is also very liberal, I think it was actually $62/year). That still leaves me at 18 cents. (even if you add in insurance, say $300 over that period (remember we’re talking an older car, with low driving), I’m still below 29 cents). (There is a caveat that I did have virtually no other maintenance during this period, but with lower mileage comes less maintenance as well).

        I think everything else you said is legit, I just wanted to put in my numbers (which can be below 30 cents/mile).

        But I think we both agree that biking is the way to go, and that’s why we do it!

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        • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

          Cost to own a car includes depreciation, something most people forget.

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      • davemess April 12, 2014 at 9:15 am

        Oh, I should add that given that those estimate numbers are coming from a AAA customer expense survey they also might be a bit skewed. In my experience the people who have AAA tend to be a bit more spend with their cars.

        I guess I just don’t like going at this from the “cars are so expensive angle”. There are better ways to get people’s attention.

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  • dan April 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    My gut says these approval numbers are high. I have to question the methodology of this survey. I’d love to see the actual script the callers used. “Would you rather pay $50 a month or $8 a month in street fees?” … “OK, I understand, you’re in favor of a $8/month fee, thank you.”

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    • Granpa April 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      You so nailed it. The questionnaire can easily be crafted to result in a desired response. Novick may be too clever by half.

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    • Terry D April 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      I used to work for a research company that contracted with DHM where I did much of the project management for their surveys. DHM Research is very professional, uses excellent sampling techniques and prides itself in its political accuracy. Of all the local survey research companies, I would trust them the most I would say. They try very hard to prevent as much question bias as possible in their wording.

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    • Rob Chapman April 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      I’d also like to know if the poll was conducted by landline only? Who still has those?

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  • Chris April 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Well, the monthly cost chart is definitely bunk unless you’re driving about 20k miles a year in a new car. Here in Hillsboro they just add the street fee to our water bills, however you can have that waived if you can prove there are no registered vehicles to you or your address.

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    • davemess April 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Seeing as there is already a measure to streamline our water billing I can’t see that happening in Portland.

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  • dwainedibbly April 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I wouldn’t mind a street fee if the City did one other thing: Outlaw studded tires in the City of Portland. Make it a $250 per tire ticket. Set up “safety checks” and start writing tickets. Authorize the parking enforcement people to write those tickets, too, and have somebody check all of the downtown garages. It won’t matter if they’re legal in other places. If you drive with them on our streets, you’re going to get caught and you’re going to pay.

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    • GlowBoy April 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Not doable. So if someone lives outside the city and has studded tires, they’re banned from entering the city, under threat of a $1000 fine? You going to put up Les Schwabs all around the city limis so people can spend $100 to swap their studs out and back in and every time the enter and leave the city? What about people driving through on I-5 or I-205?

      There’s a reason these laws are made at a state level, not a local level.

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  • gutterbunny April 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    “per household”? is that people that live in condos and apartments too?
    I’m not fond of the idea, but I could live with it….if I thought that the money would actually go to the improvements thus far promised.

    But seeing how the lottery (originally – if I remember right it was all supposed to go to education) dollars got funneled into many little projects that weren’t part of the deal when it was voted in, and how poorly the arts tax has gone thus far, I reserve the right to be sceptical. I just find it funny how once the money starts rolling in, how it suddenly becomes approved for “other” things, and a few years later they come back for more saying they don’t have enough…but they would have it they didn’t siphon it all off for other “projects”

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  • chasingbackon April 10, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I spend about $60-75 per month on a mid 80’s mini pickup which only sees about 2500 miles a year anyway so $8 a month is a relatively large and unfair impact on my transportation budget.

    I support a myriad of other methods of creating funding for street maintenance and development including raising the gas tax, taxing studded tires, increasing parking fees, just to name three off the top of my head. Oh yeah, increase registration. I am a cyclist and will pay my part, but not to the tune of $8 a month, especially under the current conditions

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  • jennifer April 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Maybe Mr. Novick got his car cost numbers from the same people who told him it would cost 7 trillion dollars, or whatever, to plow more streets during a snowstorm. Also, if there is any type of income test, it seems that either PERS recipients would need to be exempted, or the city would need to plan and budget for a lawsuit. And if it is made clear that PERS recipients would be exempt, my guess is that the approval numbers would drop somewhat.

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  • SteveG April 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    One one hand, the City claims to want to reduce carbon emissions, increase transit ridership and biking, promote EV adoption and make it easier for low-income people to live in the city. On the other hand, they’re socializing the cost of driving across every household, regardless of whether it has 3 cars + drivers or none.

    What gives?

    How about something like a city-wide gas tax that promotes a range of transportation options? Put the revenue in transparent fund that uses X% to maintain the roads, Y% for better bike and pedestrian infrastructure and Z% to subsidize transit passes for lower income riders.

    Set the tax to increase by the 125% times the inflation rate every year. That should fix the roads, increase bike and transit ridership, accelerate EV adoption, and send a signal that we’re serious about reducing transportation-related GHG emissions.

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    • Buzz April 10, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Electric vehicles are not the solution here. (1) they use the infrastructure yet don’t pay any gas taxes, and (2) they are fueled by whatever the local source of electricity is; in Portland’s case, most of our electricity comes from salmon-killing hydropower. In other cases, they are fueled by coal or nuclear power. And (3) the efficiency of electrical power is only about 33%, the rest is mostly lost in transmission from the source to the point of use.

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      • 9watts April 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm

        You are correct on all those points. Even with those qualifiers about EVs, of which I am no fan, I still agree with SteveG (comment to that effect is in moderation)

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    • 9watts April 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Exactl!. This is the kind of interesting, catchy, multi-modal, substantive, no-bullshit story I think Novick could and should be telling. Thank you, SteveG.

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  • JEFF BERNARDS April 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Jonathan, Where’s the studded tire question for Novick? I don’t want to give more money to mask one of the MAJOR reasons why OUR roads are prematurely worn out. An ODOT study claimed studded tires cut road life in half in the metro area. If studded tires were required to get around 100% of drivers would use them. ODOT’s last study said 10% of drivers use them in Portland, they need get over it or PAY!
    Please , if you can, follow up with Novick and ask this buring question most of us have.

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    • Todd Hudson April 11, 2014 at 8:19 am

      State statute says that municipalities cannot regulate studded tires. It would have to be done on a statewide basis.

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  • Buzz April 10, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    can you say CONGESTION PRICING? You should be paying for the driving you do (or don’t do); regardless of household income, a flat rate per household results in those who drive less subsidizing those who drive more.

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    • JEFF BERNARDS April 11, 2014 at 3:03 am

      It’s called a gas tax and a system is already in place to collect without further costs.

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  • JHB April 11, 2014 at 8:59 am

    The arts tax was passed by popular vote, not by the elected officials. Yep I paid mine, did you pay yours?

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  • Tony April 11, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Raise the gas tax, tax based on vehicle weight, tax based on fuel efficiency, tax based on miles traveled. There are many options beyond the 8-12 fee that everywhere would be stuck with, even if they don’t drive at all. We already subsidize the roadways in this country with general funds, time to ask motorist to pay for the roadways they use.

    People like to have tantrums when petrol prices rise to around $3.50-$4.00 per gallon but if they were actually paying the real costs, it would be much higher. Many Europeans nations are paying around $10USD (The Netherlands for example) and they have EXCELLENT infrastructure/mass transit systems/and cycle tracks because of it.

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    • Middle of the Road guy April 11, 2014 at 11:05 am

      totally regressive. poor people might not be able to afford a newer, efficient car.

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      • SteveG April 13, 2014 at 6:56 am

        When did being able to afford to own and drive a car become a right? If we continue to do everything possible to ensure that everyone can afford to drive, guess what? Only people who aren’t motivated by cost will make other choices.

        Taxing behavior we want to discourage–e.g.driving a gas guzzler–and using those funds to fund more energy-efficient transportation choices that line up with broader policy objectives may be regressive, but that’s why a big chunk of the funds should be earmarked to support and broaden access to other alternatives — like transit and bikes.

        Taxing cigarettes, booze and gambling are also regressive. That doesn’t make them bad policy options–especially if the revenues are used to fund better education, healthcare and parks.

        On the other hand, as long as gas taxes are earmarked to fund road projects, they’re just exacerbating the problem: Over-reliance on driving infrastructure. That’s why a statewide gas tax that funds odot’s road building ambitions is, IMO, counter-productive, and why more of the funds should be used to fund more efficient alternatives to driving.

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    • Middle of the Road guy April 11, 2014 at 11:06 am

      The same theory applies for cyclists here. They are not ‘paying’ for cycling infrastructure directly, either.

      Any talk about ‘savings’ does not result in a pot of cash that can be applied elsewhere.

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  • CaptainKarma April 11, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Rhetorical question: How to collect from the huge percentage of Vancouverites I see on Portland streets every day…? And the heavy commercial rigs causing the wear & tear?

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    • davemess April 12, 2014 at 9:17 am

      If they work in Oregon, Washingtonians pay a pretty hefty income tax.

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  • Trek 3900 April 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Quote: “If they work in Oregon, Washingtonians pay a pretty hefty income tax.”

    Not only do they pay a hefty income tax but they also get to pay hefty sales taxes AND hefty property taxes.

    This is why Oregonians will NEVER vote for a sales tax – the goobermint cannot get their fiscal house in order and will keep adding more and more taxes forever if we allow them to do it – we already pay asininely high property taxes + a high income tax.

    The solution to the roads problem is simple and 100% fair: Raise the gas tax and put a tax on studded tires. Why are the local politicians, the State Legislature, and Kitzhaber so stupid that they can’t figure this out? I drive, so I’ll be paying -and I’m fine with it if it’s needed.

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    • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Washington does not have an income tax.

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  • Trek 3900 April 12, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Quote: “Raise the gas tax, tax based on vehicle weight, tax based on fuel efficiency, tax based on miles traveled.”

    Of these options, the only fair option is increasing the gas tax. A heavy vehicle, or a vehicle with low fuel efficiency may rarely be driven – thus a tax based on weight or mpg is unfair. Taxing based on miles traveled is not fair – heavier vehicles do more damage per mile driven. Burning gasoline pollutes the air – tax the gasoline – provide incentive for people to use less in whatever way they want: by combining trips, carpooling, taking public transportation or a bicycle, or buying a more efficient vehicle. And if they continue to burn lots of gas, take the tax money and fix the streets. It’s simple.

    Increase the gas tax. People will not even notice – the price of fuel goes up and down, up and down constantly – people pay it with few complaints.

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  • Trek 3900 April 13, 2014 at 12:42 am

    The numbers in the chart do not look realistic. Are you Portlanders driving monster trucks? He’s got $277 per month for gas + gas tax. That’s a lot of gas. Almost 74 gallons at $3.75/gallon. I can go ~2900 miles in my car. His numbers are crap; or else he polled people who work in Salem!

    Who came up with this household tax idea? They should be recalled and/or fired.

    He claims the fee will go toward street repair and improvements; then spends most of the time talking about new sidewalks, blinking lights and other “pork” projects. If this tax goes thru, I’ll wager the Portland streets will be in worse shape in 1 year, not better.

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  • Gumby April 14, 2014 at 10:23 am

    One of the biggest problems with the new tax is that it doesn’t generated nearly enough revenue. It’s been estimated that we need to invest 75 million for 10 years just to catch up with street maintenance. This new tax only covers half of that. And what about the other lingering maintenance projects – the 100 year onl sewer lines and water lines. Are we going to have a new tax for them in a few years?

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  • SteveG April 14, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Combining a gas tax and parking fees (in the form of more meters plus neighborhood parking permits) would send the right signals. Gas guzzlers would pay high gas taxes as well as parking fees (whenever the vehicle is stored on public streets); fuel efficient vehicles would pay fewer gas taxes but they’d still have to pay to park in the public ROW.

    The resulting fees should be shared between pedestrian, bike, transit and roadway MAINTENANCE projects (not capacity expansion). These prices would result in fewer, more efficient cars, and more walking, cycling, transit and car-sharing.

    This is admittedly a tough proposition for anyone relying on public support. The O and most of the driving public would see it as a “war on cars.”

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  • 9watts May 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

    “a gas tax is a fiscal joke. far too many people in portland drive hybrids and increasingly electric vehicles.”

    Some hybrids, yes, but they burn the same gas all the other cars burn. They burn slightly less per mile, but we known nothing about whether they burn fewer gallons than the next guy whose car has a smaller alternator.
    As for electric cars, I’m pretty sure that figure is well below 1%, probably less than 0.1%.

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