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Mayor, commissioner announce plans to push forward with ‘Transportation User Fee’ – UPDATED

Posted by on May 22nd, 2014 at 11:04 am

fee-lead

Mayor Hales, flanked by Commissioner Novick,
Police Chief Mike Reese, PBOT Director
Leah Treat and others at the press conference
this morning.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

This morning at Kenilworth Park, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick announced their plans to bring a vote on their street fee to City Council on June 4th.

The monthly ‘Transportation User Fee’ will be $11.56 per single-family household, $8.09 for low-income households and will rely on a calculation based on trip generation for businesses.

At the press conference, Commissioner Novick handed out a statement that read, “If it’s good enough for Oregon City, it’s good enough for Portland.” $11.56 is the exact same amount Oregon City charges their households and the mayor of that city was the first to address the crowd this morning. “It’s been very successful for us, and I presume it will be successful for Portland.”

The fact that 28 other cities already have some type of street fee has been a major selling point of this potentially controversial effort.

Mayor Hales spoke with confidence about his plan to not bring the fee to a public vote. He said he hasn’t polled all the commissioners but he thinks Commissioner Amanda Fritz is supportive. “We have a majority already,” he said. For Hales, this move is about taking action on a problem he’s personally been talking about since he was City Transportation Commisssioner 14 years ago. During his speech this morning he said his staff looked into the problem of dwindling transportation funding in 2000 but “backed off” trying to solve it. Then in 2007, he explained, former Mayor Sam Adams’ attempt to figure out “was stymied by opposition.”

“We’ve resolved to stop talking about it and do something about it.”

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With some Portlanders wanting this new fee to go to a vote of the public, the city announced today that in addition to the ordinance that will go to Council, they also plan to put a charter amendment to a public vote this coming November. That amendment to the fee plan will specifically state that the money raised from the fee — expected to be about $40-50 million per year — will only be spent on transportation projects. Hales said he’s aware that there’s a “deficit of trust” in the public about how the City spends their money and this amendment is part of “making progress to restore that trust.”

Commissioner Novick said he wanted this morning’s event to be held at SE 34th and Gladstone Holgate because currently people in cars are “whipping around” the street corners even with two schools and a senior center nearby. “We want to put in two rapid flash beacons so kids can get to school and seniors can get to the transit stop.” If voters don’t like the fee, Novick said, “They can throw us out.”

The city lined up two small business owners to speak in support of the fee this morning. One of them, the owner of a game store on SE Foster, said he’s seen four crashes and there’s been a fatality near his business in the past few years. He said the fee will improve both his street and his business, all for less than 1/3 of one percent of his revenue.”That’s less than my phone bill,” he said.

The owner of Paloma Clothing said he supports the estimated $120 per month his business will be required to pay. “That’s a burden, but a bearable one that will make our streets safe and sound for our customers’ cars, bikes, and children.” He also called on Portlanders to support local businesses because, “Amazon.com won’t be paying a dime to make our streets safe.”

As for the fee itself, the city also clarified today how the money will be distributed.

As you can see in the graphic above, pavement maintenance will get the lion’s-share of investment. Overall, what PBOT describes as “Maintenance Projects” will get 53 percent of the funds, while “Safety Projects” will get 44 percent (with “Other” getting the remaining 3 percent).

Other elements of the Transportation User Fee is a credit for small-business owners, the formation of a new oversight committee, a commitment to annual reporting, a project selection criteria, and an appeals process. We have yet to dig into the full text of the ordinance, so stay tuned for more information.

If Council passes the TUF on June 4th as expected, the implementation of the fee would be effective July 1, 2015. According to Mayor Hales, that gives people time to figure the fee into their monthly budget.

— Learn more details from the Portland Mercury and the Willamette Week.

UPDATE: Below are PDFs of the draft ordinance (and exhibits) and charter amendment…
Draft Resolution for Charter Amendment
Draft Ordinance
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C
Exhibit D

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Bjorn
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Bjorn

The problem with the fee continues to be that it is a subsidy for suburban commuters. This revenue would be better raised by something like raising on street parking charges to a market rate price because it would better capture revenue from people who live outside Portland but use our streets. The street fee method directly subsidizes sprawl.

JHB
Guest
JHB

Did you miss the part where 28 other cities already charge a street fee… Most of the Portland suburbs already charge their citizens and businesses, so isn’t it a wash from a subsidy perspective?

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Everywhere else I have seen that stat it is 28 other cities have either a street fee or a local gas tax not sure why Bikeportland is reporting it as 28 cities have a street fee. I have not been able to find the amounts of the fees listed anywhere. I know Corvallis has one, but it is about 1.50 cents a month and while it is much smaller it also problematically subsidizes people who live outside the city limits but work and shop in the City. There are almost 250 cities in Oregon so around 10% have a gas tax or street fee, which I don’t think negates the fact that this fee as proposed subsidizes commuters.

davemess
Guest
davemess

They were listed on one of the posters at the meeting I went to. Don’t know where to find them on the web. This fee is definitely on the higher end of them, if I remember correctly.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone
Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

According to that slide this would be the highest street fee in the State (tied with Oregon City). 2/3 of them are less than 1/2 as much.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I’m guessing that’s why they didn’t go with the $12 even, and why they trotted out the OC mayor.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Hey Bjorn,

Here’s the map (PDF) PBOT has been showing of 28 Oregon cities with user fees and 20 cities with a gas tax.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Not when they’re using our streets. Those fees pay for transpo in their cities not ours. If there was an equal amount of people traveling from Portland to the suburbs on a daily basis than you might have a point.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

we use their streets, too.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

A quick look at the I-5 and the I-205 during the morning or evening commute will quickly show you that it is a pretty one sided arrangement.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

But the fact is it CAN go both ways.

Also neglected is the benefit these commuters bring with them….spending money, filling jobs, etc.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Maybe things have changed, but when I lived there I-26 was full of Portlanders driving out to Beaverton and Hillsboro to work. Two of the state’s current top three employers are not in Portland.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Does anyone have a list of those 28 cities? Unless they include Beaverton, Tualatin, Hillsboro, Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview, Maywood Park, Clackamas, Tigard, Lake Oswego, West Linn, AND Oregon City, this is to some extent a subsidy of suburbia. And that’s not even counting Vancouver, Battle Ground, Camas, etc.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

street fee cities (from city slideshow linked above)

Ashland – $8.17
Bay City – $5.00
Brookings – $2.50
Canby – $5.00
Central Point – $4.98
Clatskanie – $5.50
Corvalis – $1.53
Dufur – $5.00
Eagle Point – $6.00
Grants Pass – $3.37
Hillsboro – $3.18
Hubbard – $5.19
La Grande – $8.00
Lake Oswego – $8.01
Medford – $8.45
Milwaukie – $3.35 (also has a $.02 gas tax)
Myrtle Creek – $3.00
Oregon City – $11.56
Philomath – $2.00
Phoenix – $2.21
Sherwood – $5.53
Talent – $3.93
Tigard – $5.56 (also has a $.03 gas tax)
Toledo – $3.00
Tualatin – $3.92
West Linn – $10.31
Wilsonville – $4.03
Wood Village – $9.53

so it DOES include Tualatin, Hillsboro, Tigard, Lake Oswego, West Linn, and Oregon City…

it doesn’t include Beaverton, Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview, Maywood Park, or Clackamas…

there are also 20 cities (including the 2 already listed) that have a gas tax ranging from $.01 to $.05… Portland is not one of them… neither is Beaverton, Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview, Maywood Park, or Clackamas…

Pez
Guest
Pez

By the way, I’m pretty sure that Washington County (don’t know about Clackamas County) has the equivalent of a street fee also.

jeff
Guest
jeff

28 cities where exactly?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The city wants to call their idea a ‘fee’. Fine, but it’s just another tax for Portland residents to help make their streets a little nicer for them. The city must think it makes sense to create another layer of bureaucracy to try adequately fund what should be provided for in the transportation budget.

This is sure no subsidy for suburban commuters. Those that need to seem to get to Portland just fine on the city’s existing streets’ pavement. The city needs the workforce and the business income they represent, so it better hope they keep coming in from the burbs. A discount on gas for suburb residents that fill their tank within city limits would be a nice little subsidy though.

Hopefully, city hall doesn’t imagine their fee idea is a subsidy for suburban commuters. If it did, it might try propose a wild scheme to demand an admission fee for suburban commuters to get into the city.

Gregg
Guest

I hope a toll on the I-5, I-205, and the 26 tunnell is on it’s way, along with a gas tax.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

For some things like interstate freeways, tolls can serve a legitimate functional purpose. People of a city saying that city hall’s idea for a transportation user fee is “… a subsidy for suburban commuters. …”, sounds little more than trying to get out of paying for their own stuff that primarily benefits them.

davemess
Guest
davemess

But won’t tolling state and federal highways not provide funds for city roads? I don’t think the city has jurisdiction to do that.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“But won’t tolling state and federal highways not provide funds for city roads?…” davemess

Money derived from that infrastructure should be assigned specifically to fund and maintain that infrastructure. The whole point of contemplating tolling a new CRC bridge, was to create a means by which to help pay off the expense of building the thing.

City leaders are totally lost in coming up with an idea for an extra fee or tax outside of the transportation budget in an attempt to get extra money. Where do they imagine the money they’re asking for is going to come from? This is a robbing from Peter to pay Paul proposition.

Someone earlier, suggested building fewer roads, meaning less infrastructure to have to pay for and maintain. Great practice, if cities would ever do that sort of thing to confine its budget outlay to a manageable construction and maintenance load. Instead, the flaw ridden strategy practiced, seems to be to widen roads and create new roads, going after private investment that eventually will, hopefully result in more taxes received by the city. This is a major contributor to urban sprawl, which by the way, Portland’s growth over its history as a city, is a classic example of.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob
9watts
Guest
9watts

Interesting that the problem the site of the announcement is meant to draw attention to is a problem that a gas tax would do a much better job addressing. The problem is too much driving, not too few rapid flash beacons.

“That amendment to the fee plan will specifically state that the money raised from the fee […] will only be spent on transportation projects.”

Whew, I’m glad they are using very specific language so the bikey ones among us can be certain it won’t be spent fixing potholes. Right.

Paul Souders
Guest

“The problem is too much driving, not too few rapid flash beacons.”

THIS.

dan
Guest
dan

42% of the revenue to pavement maintenance? Horsepuckey. This should be covered with a gas tax / registration fees.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

What’s needed is an intiative that requires all transportation improvement revenue to come from transportation users, since a majority of Oregon’s transportation funding comes from sources not related to transportation.

http://tinyurl.com/HowRoadsAreFunded

Another idea is to allocate funding based on contribution to a problem. Frequently here it is argued that autos cause the most damage to roads, so should pay the most to maintain them, but this is also true of the danger posed by motorists. A Safe Systems approach would allocate to those that pose the greatest risk to others the responsibility to mitigate that risk as well. Mass is a good proxy for risk. So a car at 3,000 lb has 15 times the responsibility of a cyclist or pedestrian at 200 lb. This means 93% of the cost to make roads safe for non-motorists should fall to motorists, because if the motorists were not there, most of the problems would disappear.

RH
Guest
RH

“Protected Bike Lanes – 4%” – if they stick to this, that could be $2 million/year. What’s the average cost for a mile of protected bike lane?

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

The entire bike infrastructure spending in the annual budget is currently only $1million for everything. Also, there’s a healthy percentage dedicated to neighborhood greenways. That’s somewhat promising, I guess.

davemess
Guest
davemess

But that assumes that the current budget structure will stay the same. It might shift now that there is more funding. So in the end who knows?

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

well put! With PBOT collecting the street fee, it will be hard for them to maintain the same slice of the general fund, competing against police, fire, parks, etc. The fee used to INCREASE PBOT’s budget may become their ENTIRE budget, then safety goes out the window and PBOT goes back to square one. Safety improvements can come by lowering speed limits, increasing enforcement and fines, enforcing distracted/drunk driving, and getting rid of right-on-red. Get speed and red light cameras approved for widespread use and crack down on judge leniency and the driving cultural will shift in no time.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

PBOT gets almost no money from the General Fund — the small slice they do get pays the streetlight electric bill, and there’s a bit for Sunday Parkways. It’s hard to compete with Fire and Police for the same pot of money.

http://bikeportland.org/2013/01/17/pbots-effort-to-cut-budget-could-hit-street-lights-streetcar-82000

Noah Brimhall
Guest
Noah Brimhall

S445,000 / mile is the figure I’ve seen. That means we’ll get about 4.5 miles a year. That’d be like completing 5 NE Multnomah St. a year (more or less).

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

Metro uses $250K per mile I thought when figuring cost estimates, but that is most likely bare bones without a lot of frills.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

Don’t hold up NE Multnomah as an example yet — it’s still just a lab experiment, never meant to be the permanent solution, and its cost doesn’t represent the real cost of a truly-implemented protected bikeway.

A task force of business owners is meeting now to work with the city on implementing lessons learned from the pilot project on NE Multnomah, and spending real dollars to provide lasting, high-quality improvements there, in place of the lightweight treatments that are there now, which were only meant as a collection of lab tests.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

The highest quality improvement to it would be to move the whole thing to a useful street.

sean
Guest
sean

It might be a slightly generous estimate, but you’re right: that could serve as the majority of funding for a few major projects (the Broadway cycle track was about $80,000). Hopefully, it’s not simply a redesign of Multnomah (or a currently planned route).

I’m voting Green Loop downtown:

http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/17/citys-green-loop-could-be-like-sunday-parkways-everyday-100088

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

1. Regressive! Disproportionate burden on poorer citizens and low-car households.
2. In a couple of years, the City’s general fund will simply give less to PBOT since they now have their own funding stream.
3. Encourages sprawl by not actually being a user fee (suburban subsidy!)
4. Money should be raised by increased parking fees (on surface lots, meters, expanded meters, increased permit fees, expanded permit areas, etc) gas tax, registration/DEQ fees raised proportionately by vehicle weight, fees on studded tires. All of these funding mechanisms directly collect money from driving and damaging roads.
5. Saftey improvement should come from traffic enforcement!!! Lower speed limits, increase fines. Work with judges to stop reducing fines. Work to get speed/red light cameras. Raise fees and increase enforcement for distracted/drunk driving, Get rid of right on red. Get rid of “beg butons’ for pedestrians so every signal allows pedestrians to cross.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Your second point is extremely important, in my view. The City’s budgeting process and internal overhead models are so byzantine that they’re nearly impossible to report on accurately. The proposed charter amendment doesn’t seem to protect the overall transportation budget from the depredations of the Office of Management and Finance, which will very likely find a way to do exactly as you say, and the public will have a hard time understanding it.

(I say this not because I doubt the public’s intelligence, but because I’m a reasonably intelligent human who worked in administration at the City for nearly 30 years, and understanding the budget was frankly beyond my own capacity.)

Until I see the exact charter amendment language–and until that amendment is passed (which, I note, isn’t guaranteed and isn’t tied to the creation of the fee–it’s just proposed to go to a vote in November)–I don’t actually believe that my twelve bucks a month will wind up in some sacrosanct maintenance and safety budget. Experience says that six dollars of it are more likely to wind up indirectly in OMF.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

See my link above — PBOT gets almost no money from the General Fund.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

As I understand it, PBOT *gives* money to the general fund, in the form of overhead. Administration of this street fee will be additional overhead. I suspect that administration will cost more than the predicted amount. It’s not inconceivable that OMF will find a way to raid what little the general fund gives to PBOT once PBOT has this endless new revenue stream.

Ventura
Guest
Ventura

What a great opportunity for bicyclists and transit users to support BMW and Humvee drivers!

Jen
Guest
Jen

What if we raised the fines for breaking the laws while driving and then actually enforced them. One afternoon of speeding tickets and failure to yield and running red lights/speeding up to catch the tail of of the yellow on SE Powell alone would be a great start

davemess
Guest
davemess

The problem is the cost of prosection/court. Cops get paid a lot of overtime to come to every court hearing. Someone addressed this recently on this site. Didn’t it come out to a wash, or actually the city lost money?

Dan
Guest
Dan

Lower the fines (to reduce the amount of people willing to argue the ticket in court) and give them out more frequently.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

also the “problem” of people eventually starting to obey all the laws and nobody getting a ticket and generating revenue… thus we either have to increase taxes to keep people in line or fire the police and let chaos seep back in…

and you know how people feel about more taxes…

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

They should triple the cost of all moving and infractions, or at least make it so the minimum fines covers court and enforcement officers time, there is absolutely no go reason why tickets should cost us tax payers money.

If they made them profitable, the profit should be filtered to the traffic enforcement division of PPD and road safety improvements.

If each ticket gave say an extra $100 dollars to the the traffic division. You’d have 100k (likely more than needed) to fund another traffic cop including vehicle, retirement fund, and workman’s comp every 1000 tickets issued. I’d guess you’d be looking at one new traffic cop every month or so.

Or better yet the PPD could go with owning (not renting)it’s own video enforcement equipment, and really rake it in, this would be great because after a few years most the streets and intersections would be covered and then profits could then be set aside for safety improvements.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

The state legislature sets fine limits, not the city of portland.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

Yes I know. But if pushed by Portland and other cities that would benefit from the additional funding for their police departments and transportation maintenance departments you’d likely find little to no opposition to changing it.

J_R
Guest
J_R

A few years ago, a legislator from Eugene introduced a bill that would cause the City of Coburg to forfeit to the state any fine revenue from speed enforcement on I-5 above a certain level. It seems Coburg cops were catching plenty of speeders on I-5 and those from Eugene were complaining about a “speed trap.” The city insisted that they were not giving citations to anyone going less than 85 mph. Nevertheless, it pissed off a bunch of Eugeneans. Not everyone sees law enforcement as a good thing.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

1. Regressive! Disproportionate burden on poorer citizens and low-car households.
2. This could be net loss for PBOT and open the door to ever-increasing street fees. In a couple of years, the City’s general fund will simply give less to PBOT since they now have their own funding stream.
3. Encourages sprawl by not actually being a user fee (suburban subsidy!)
4. Money should be raised by increased parking fees (on surface lots, meters, expanded meters, increased permit fees, expanded permit areas, etc) gas tax, registration/DEQ fees raised proportionately by vehicle weight, fees on studded tires. All of these funding mechanisms directly collect money from driving and damaging roads.
5. Safety improvement should come from traffic enforcement!!! Lower speed limits, increase fines. Work with judges to stop reducing fines. Work to get speed/red light cameras. Raise fees and increase enforcement for distracted/drunk driving, Get rid of right on red. Get rid of “beg buttons’ for pedestrians so every signal allows pedestrians to cross.

Dave
Guest
Dave

I’d sure rather see the gutless, brainless, spineless wonders in Salem and Olympia jack our gas taxes up to European levels. Raise it 25 cents a gallon for six years, the ultimate result should be 50c/gallon each for active transit, mass transit, and road repair. As well as a huge, whopping tax on those rotary cutting tools called studded tires.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

those costs will come back to you, eventually.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I’m not following. What costs?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Almost everything we buy gets to our local store on a motorized vehicle, so any increase in the cost of fuel results in an increase in the costs of goods.

9watts
Guest
9watts

What if I shop for everything except food on Craigslist and in dumpsters, and bike to pick it up?

9watts
Guest
9watts

Your comment demonstrates how the street fee requires us to make all these broad brush assumptions about how average people rely on our infrastructure. The tenor of these statements suggests to me that folks haven’t thought very hard about, or don’t realize, just how diverse we are when it comes to direct and indirect reliance on fossil fuels, on machines that wear down our local streets. How unaverage many of us are.

Furthermore, the broad brush paints over all the opportunities we may have already discovered, or may yet discover, for avoiding those activities that wear out our infrastructure, require it to be built to expensive standards. A gas tax captures and incentivizes these actions, these efforts (and so would a hefty fee on studded tires). The street fee does not and cannot. As a (mostly) flat fee it insists that everyone is average and in so doing rewards the profligate and penalizes the miserly.

How is this fee helping us move in a good direction? How much foresight went into this policy? Did anyone on the street fee committee bother to notice that there are big conversations going on right now a few blocks away concerning our commitments to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, on carbon, on cars, and how we are going to fulfill those commitments?

I hope Amanda Fritz musters all her courage and votes against this nonsense.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Would you support an initiative that prohibits revenue from non-transportation related sources to be spent on transportation related items? In other words, require that all transportation improvements/changes be funded by user fees and taxes on transportation, and no other source?

BasementDweller
Guest
BasementDweller

Yes, in proportion to the services and goods that rely on fuel. We all use them. We don’t all use them equally.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

Gasoline taxes shouldn’t be charged per gallon, they should be charged per dollar. Otherwise, yes.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“…here in the U.S. the gasoline industry actually gets more in tax breaks — various subsidies in the corporate income tax code, totaling tens of billions of dollars per year — than the government reaps from the gasoline tax. The International Business Times reports, “The average U.S. resident actually pays anywhere between $2 and $0.90 less than the actual market value of gasoline because of government subsidies.”

http://www.ibtimes.com/gas-prices-pump-europeans-pay-almost-twice-much-us-residents-1322727

J_R
Guest
J_R

Dave, I agree with you completely that we need much higher gas taxes. You should be aware that Washington’s gas tax is 25 percent higher than Oregon’s. (37.5 cents per gallon versus 30 cents per gallon.) Salem legislators are more spineless than Olympia’s.

Paul Souders
Guest

How about this: fewer roads?

davemess
Guest
davemess

How is this a solution? Most roads have homes on them, so how would those people get out?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Great idea. Let’s decommission the road in front of your house first.

Paul Souders
Guest

Ha! It’s a private road. I already pay about $500/yr for it.

My point (only half kidding) is: if the heaviest street users don’t want to pay in the most direct way (a vehicle or gas tax), then I am completely fine with the alternative. My bike loves dirt.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Novick made a point of claiming that is what will happen if they didn’t pass this fee. Our streets would turn to gravel.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Novick’s a bit of a fear mongering idiot…there are miles of streets in PDX that haven’t been touched by a work crew in decades…and they’re not gravel.

davemess
Guest
davemess

except my commuter bike and my commuter clothes aren’t that particular to mud (which we tend to get a little of here).

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

I’d be content with them tearing up my section of street… I’d even roll my garbage cans to the end of the block every week…

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

I think maintaining fewer roads is a great idea. For example, I have no problem walking or biking on the unimproved road next to my home. My neighbors even manage to park their cars on it.

My hope is that eventually many low traffic roads could be turned into shared space with paths and perhaps a narrow one directional motorvehicle lane.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“How about this: fewer roads?” Paul Souders

More specifically: fewer asphalt paved roads, and what are paved, keep them narrower. Paving with asphalt is where the costs go up. Gravel works, and as a riding surface, it’s even gotten trendy, as a number of bikeportland stories of late have noted.

When the budget is really tight, even graded dirt works, although the mud and dust they can produce through lots of traffic can be really nasty to live next to. Worth keeping in mind, the miles and miles of Portland streets that do not have fancy asphalt paved streets.

Too many people with too much money, telling people with little or no money, how they’re going to have to spend their pitiful few dollars. Every one of those city officials, Hales, Novick, Treat and Reece, proposing this fee idea are most likely earning over a $100,000 a year. For them, an extra $100-$300 paid out of their earnings is no big deal. If people earning $30,000 and less a year, think this idea is a good one, then, well maybe.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“Too many people with too much money, telling people with little or no money, how they’re going to have to spend their pitiful few dollars.”

I agree with wsbob!

babygorilla
Guest
babygorilla

I couldn’t locate the text of the ordinance or the proposed charter amendment vote language. An earlier report indicated that the vote language would state that funds “should” be used only for transportation projects. That’s a world different than “shall” only be used for transportation. Be interesting to see what is actually proposed.

As well as a regressive tax disproportionately effecting low and medium wage workers, it also disproportionately effects no or low car use households and single person and smaller households.

And, it also acts as a double tax because other government agencies (like schools and the park bureau) will be required to pay it!

are
Guest

text posted here
http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1165438-portland-street-fee-proposal.html#document/
section 17.21.050, page 6, says only all proceeds are to be allocated to transportation

deborah schultz
Guest
deborah schultz

I’m thankful they’re moving forward with a street fee. It will enable us to put far more money into transportation and street usage of all types. I do wish that it were based on actual car and truck driving, which accounts for the vast amount of road repairs necessary. Something more like London’s street usage fee system would be far more appropriate given our large amount of traffic from outside the city limits. But it’s a serious step forward in fixing the transportation funding gap. My hope is that once they’ve tried the fee in this format, it will ‘pave the way’ for a more appropriate usage-based fee.

Pushing this initiative forward regardless of the vocal conservative opposition demonstrates real backbone from our city officials. It leaves me extraordinarily hopeful for significant improvement in the years to come for Portland. We all know we’ve been stagnating for awhile, and this is really a huge step in the right direction, even if it’s not 100% perfect at the start.

As former NY Mayor Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan demonstrated with their large pedestrian and bike initiatives, sometimes it’s necessary to force large changes through to have the community realize all benefits to be had.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“But it’s a serious step forward in fixing the transportation funding gap”

Please explain.
By my calculations* the (expected net, annual) take from the street fee might yield ~10% of the annual maintenance backlog identified by Dylan Rivera to bikeportland late last year. With so much effort, political capital, public expense dedicated to this fee, how is this anything but a step backwards? With a gas tax you not only raise money (and at a lower cost) you also discourage the activity which is associated with nearly all the costs!

* http://bikeportland.org/2014/04/18/businesses-and-bikeways-city-reveals-more-details-on-street-fee-104800#comment-4735979

Nick
Guest
Nick

This, right here, this is the key. This fee charges the same amount to all users regardless of their contribution to the damage. Spineless? No. Irrational? Yes. Gas tax, auto resgistration fees, and parking rates all work to gain revenue while discouraging the destructive activity. Hales’ statement “the voters can kick us out” does not suggest a thoughtful approach and may very well come true for him and Novick.
And yes, I can’t help but feel like the town hall meetings were a sham.

9watts
Guest
9watts

From the OPB story on this:
http://www.opb.org/news/article/5-things-you-should-know-about-portlands-proposed-street-fee/

It could be the highest street fee in Oregon:

Twenty-nine cities across the state charge street fees. They range from $1.53 a month in Corvallis to $11.56 in Oregon City — the same as Portland is proposing. “It’s a high fee because we’ve waited 14 years since we first started talking about it. It will only produce a fraction of the revenue we need to cure the backlog,” says Mayor Hales.

emphasis mine 🙂

davemess
Guest
davemess

Except the vocal opposition is not just conservative. There is enough in this “fee” to get every side of the aisle riled up.

I disagree that this makes me hopeful. Instead it makes me feel that the mayor and council/PBOT have not been spending their money optimally, and will continue to come back and ask for more when they mismanage this money (and I don’t consider myself a “conservative” and usually will vote for what I think are “right” tax increases). The Arts tax (which I did vote for) and the methods they have gone about to institute this “fee” (no public vote, etc) have really rubbed me the wrong way.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

I admire your positive outlook, and it’s generally one I share. I’ll happily call myself a “tax and spend liberal” and consider it a badge of honor. My opposition to this particular tax isn’t, I assure you, because I’m a conservative. It’s because it seems deeply flawed and regressive, and very much the result of “shock doctrine” policies from the federal government on down.

I don’t deny that more money is needed to support our urban infrastructure. I’m in favor of raising taxes to provide it. I’m happy to pay my fair share–but based on income and use patterns, not on head count.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Good comments Anne. You said you worked in City Hall, don’t they have professionals and experts that are supposed to vet this stuff? Sitting through the meeting I went to, it almost seemed like Novick and Treat were surprised by the backlash against this they were getting.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

LOL! Oh dear me. *wipes eyes* The City’s process for hiring consultants makes its budget process look straightforward. It’s so expensive and so difficult that some of the best experts won’t even bother proposing.

DISCLAIMER: The following is my opinion. I was in admin, procurement, and info systems at a non-management level.

Those who win contracts (I’m talking about outreach, public relations, organizational management, etc., and not so much about engineering or construction, you understand) can submit accurate reports till they’re blue in the face, and the City WILL spin them to suit a) OMF and b) the electeds. Everyone here on BP has noticed that the original public poll was watered down and pre-directed to the desired result.

As to actual staff whose job it is to deal with public perception? It’s an echo chamber in there. If PBOT was directed to flog a user fee and make it stick, you can bet that the public outreach folks were not encouraged to find or report significant opposition.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

$8.09 for low-income households.

So a yuppie portlander like me ($6.79 per rental) will pay less than low-income households? Disgraceful.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Income eligibility guidelines:
Family Size – Monthly Income
1 person – Under $1,809
2 people – Under $2,365
3 people – Under $2,922
4 people – Under $3,478
5 people – Under $4,035

If your qualify you get to pay the lower rate: $97.08/year instead of $138.72.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

a working class single mom on food stamps now has to pay $100 a year subsidizing someone rips around in a 5000 lb suv with studded tires.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

as well as a cyclist on a $7000 bike.

davemess
Guest
davemess

A $7000 bike or a $150 bike cause the same VERY minimal damage to the roads.

davemess
Guest
davemess

They went with the high of the two fees. SHOCKING!!!!!

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

You weren’t supposed to notice that…

davemess
Guest
davemess

Do you notice how TRIMET is conspicuously left off that pie chart? I specifically remember them saying something to the effect of “when we ask people if they would be willing to pay $4 more per month is if some of it went to TRIMET to increase buses or start a new bus line…” But nothing about TRIMET in this new chart.

Daniel L
Guest
Daniel L

“Enhance public transit service” is mentioned if you look at the full thing graphic, I believe it falls in as part of that 3% for “Other”, and there’s no mention of Trimet specifically, so could mean streetcar, or other unspecified public transit services.

Mike
Guest
Mike

“Hales said he’s aware that there’s a “deficit of trust” in the public about how the City spends their money and this amendment is part of “making progress to restore that trust.””

Read: We know you don’t trust us to make the right decisions with your taxes, but if you give us more we promise to do the right thing this time.

Henry Rollins comes to mind when I hear or read statements like those.

davemess
Guest
davemess

” One of them, the owner of a game store on SE Foster, said he’s seen four crashes and there’s been a fatality near his business in the past few years. He said the fee will improve both his street and his business, all for less than 1/3 of one percent of his revenue.”That’s less than my phone bill,” he said.”

I don’t remember this business owner at any of the FOSTER SAC committee meetings I went to. Not to mention his street (Foster) is already getting a drastic overhaul next year with grants and Federal money.

It is very obvious that they have not listened to public input on this at all. Those “town hall meetings” were just a charade.
So here comes another Arts Tax that can’t be affordably and legitimately collected, and we can all be unhappy with it!

9watts
Guest
9watts

“It is very obvious that they have not listened to public input on this at all. Those ‘town hall meetings’ were just a charade.”

I can’t disagree.

davemess
Guest
davemess

At the last meeting even he people who were FOR the fee had a bunch of gripes about how they were proposing to collect and administer it. I just don’t think anyone will be happy with this and these guys might have a rougher time getting elected (makes me feel good in a sad way that I haven’t voted for any of the current council or mayor).

davemess
Guest
davemess

Sorry “her street”

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Funny you should mention the Arts Tax. I’ve got this email in my inbox: “Did you forget?” and then a link to some difficult to use website where it’s ugly and complicated for me to pay. Typical City. Can NOT get technology right.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

I paid my arts tax online-it was a breeze for anyone even remotely computer literate. Ditto your water bill. Who cares if it’s ugly? If they spent money on fancy web design you’d be complaining about that.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

No, I really wouldn’t. They could have and should have gotten good, interactive, searchable, user-friendly and up-to-date websites for the money they spent getting the embarrassingly bad ones they’ve got.

AndyC of Linnton
Guest
AndyC of Linnton

Why are you constantly punishing the ones who don’t drive much, Portland!?

9watts
Guest
9watts

Yeah. And what I want to know is how PBOT explains this move to BPS, whose Climate Action Plan would have us move away from dependence on (subsidies to) cars. If this street fee conforms to the requirements of the Climate Action Plan’s goals for transportation, advances these goals, I’d like to hear it.
Anyone?

rick
Guest
rick

Why not ban metal-studded tires?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

The state legislature controls that.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Sure, but the folks we’re talking about here could put in a good word at the legislature. Point out what the local fallout is from not doing something to discourage the use of studded tires. Just saying that it is someone else’s problem doesn’t really cut it.

babygorilla
Guest
babygorilla

Some more absurdity:

Willamette Week reports that “Parking lots and railway yards get the only exemptions, which would pacify downtown land owner Greg Goodman and railroad giant Union-Pacific.”

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Ugh. I understand the railroad, but PARKING LOTS? We’re creating even less incentive to develop empty lots in our city now. Good work, Charlie.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

The whole thing is just a giant subsidy for people who drive from suburbs to downtown. Bad idea to be sure.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Holy carp! Parking lots are *exempt*??

SMH.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Of course they are. So are cars, for crying out loud.
It doesn’t matter if you own/drive one or six or zero. Everyone pays the same. hahahaha.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

can only drive one at a time.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Not if you have a multiple driver household!

Reza
Guest
Reza

I need an explanation for the parking lot exemption. This seems like sheer lunacy.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

My guess it’s because you’re not driving to the parking lot to sit in your car — you’re driving to go to a business beyond the lot.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

That’s the logic they are using, but it is silly logic. We will be foregoing potential street fee business income (that all other businesses pay) to do what? Encourage more people to drive downtown and damage the streets. Absurd.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

I’ll bet people parking in the lots are spending more money than the lot user fee would generate.

Granted, you can have both…….but the reality is that businesses need customers.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

Shouldn’t they pay the fee for each spot. After all in theory I’m paying the for the two cars you could park in front of my house.

And since I have a driveway for my family car, can I declare it a parking lot and be exempt? I can fit 3 normal cars on it easy….

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

This INFURIATES me!

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Does Pavement Maintenance include finally paving unpaved streets? Or will the residents on those streets still be expected to form the LIDs which Novick and Hales have admitted rarely work, in order to join the 20th century and have pavement?

davemess
Guest
davemess

my understand is that it would not. They mentioned laying new sidewalks (mostly around schools), but no mention of unpaved streets, which is a huge issue in my neighborhood (and many others around the city). Sadly unpaved streets have been falling far down the priority list for PBOT it appears.

And before anybody pulls the old “property owners pay for streets” argument:
http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-17460-dirt_roads_dead_ends.html

“In a 2000 report to City Council about funding for street improvements, an expert panel delved into the history of Portland infrastructure. They called the notion that property owners have always borne the cost of paving streets a “long-standing myth.”

As recently as 2000, the study found, the city was paying most or all of the costs to pave many streets, especially in poorer neighborhoods.

“The implication of this myth was that property owners paid almost entirely for their street, a proposition that is nowhere near the truth,” the report says. “It is much more accurate, and also much more relevant to the problems we face today, to state that property owners have almost always helped pay for at least a portion of the costs for improving their streets.””

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

an old landlord of mine complained that he couldn’t build next to his current unit because the city required him to install sidewalks and drainage… it ate up his profit so he didn’t build…

if the city had been willing to pay for sidewalks and street drains then he would have built a house next to the one I was renting…

it’s not a myth…

davemess
Guest
davemess

Yes, I think people are arguing that the city is currently using it as an excuse to not build (or at least help pay for) infrastructure. By saying that “that’s not how it was historically done” they think they have an out. But this report said that “that’s how it was historically done” is actually the myth. It’s likely your landlord tried to do this in the last 20 years?

Ian Stude
Guest
Ian Stude

Regarding unpaved streets, I recommend a through review of this site:

http://www.roadwaynotimproved.com/

and also:

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/63612

One of the other prevalent myths is that all home owners on unimproved streets would like to see their street paved.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I understand that some do not want their streets paved (seems to be centered around Woodstock), but many do. I’m sorry but the second site is just a distraction by the city to absolve themselves of any responsibility, and try to change the subject.

Even if the roads are not paved the city should have a responsibility (on public, city-owned streets) to maintain them.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Tweets from earlier on an important issue if this dumb tax stands:

Me: @PBOTinfo I hate it, but can City at least put me on autopay? They’re great at demanding money and terrible at receiving it.

@PBOTinfo: Discussions about payment method are focusing on ways to ensure compliance & make compliance easy.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Can I be put on auto-not-pay?

I think that would save everyone money and trouble.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Totally agree. But if I have to pay something, dear god, City, could you please join the 21st century sometime before it’s half over, and take my money the way it’s most convenient for me to offer it? It’s adding insult to injury to pass a tax I don’t think I owe, and then make me write a check and put a stamp on an envelope to pay it.

Dan
Guest
Dan

If only they could collect it while filling up a tank…

9watts
Guest
9watts

Or better yet, make the autos pay.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Touché.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

or all street users.

9watts
Guest
9watts

We do – already.
http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdf
“people who drive less than average and use non-motorized modes tend to overpay their share of costs, while those who drive more than average underpay. This indicates that non-drivers pay more than their share of transportation costs.”
and he continues:
“The automobile industry has published studies which claim that motorists pay more than their share of costs (Dougher 1995; Spindler 1997), but they violate standard cost allocation principles by including all vehicle taxes rather than just special user charges, and by considering only highway expenditures, ignoring local roadway costs and other external costs associated with motor vehicle use. Virtually all studies that use appropriate analysis procedures conclude that motorists significantly underpay the costs they impose on society (FHWA 1997; Litman 2012; Parry, Walls and Harrington 2007; van Essen, et al. 2007).”

No need to pretend we don’t.

babygorilla
Guest
babygorilla

davemess
Do you notice how TRIMET is conspicuously left off that pie chart? I specifically remember them saying something to the effect of “when we ask people if they would be willing to pay $4 more per month is if some of it went to TRIMET to increase buses or start a new bus line…” But nothing about TRIMET in this new chart.
Recommended 1

From the reporting I’ve read, Trimet / Metro will actually need to PAY this fee (for their offices and maybe park and ride lots within the city). So will Public Schools. So will city parks. So will other city agencies (will PBOT be taxing itself??). Its a double layer of taxation.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Can you imagine the cost to administer all of this?
How much of the money Hales and Co. are crowing about raising through this fee is going to get eaten up by administration and noncompliance?

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

The Revenue Bureau had to basically suspend all other non-routine operations in order to collect the Arts Tax, and that’s only collected once a year, for a limited period. They are NOT prepared to collect this monthly fee. It’s going to be a nightmare.

davemess
Guest
davemess

That’s probably my biggest issue with this “fee” (and the apparent complete lack of forethought). They’re having such huge problems enforcing and collecting the Arts Tax, and then they want to go down the EXACT same route with this “fee”. Just doesn’t make any sense. At least with the gas tax or property taxes there is already a straight forward way to collect and penalize. i really don’t understand reinventing the wheel here. I wanted to ask about the costs of collection that this “fee” would require at my meeting (but ran out of time).

davemess
Guest
davemess

And apparently barely 50% of the city is paying it.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Apparently not for their parking lots…

davemess
Guest
davemess

Great point! and you have to think that TRIMET generates a LOT of trips!

9watts
Guest
9watts

I have a slightly different take on Trimet and paying for infrastructure. To me their service allows many people *not* to drive. I realize that Hales and Co. don’t distinguish the two, but if we’re looking to the future, when we will rely far less on horseless carriages, we should be making things likes buses free not charging them/the passengers extra fees.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Someone brought up a similar point at the town hall I went to, and Novick responded that buses do the most damage to the road, and therefore people who ride TRIMET should not be exempt from this fee.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“buses do the most damage to the road, and therefore people who ride TRIMET should not be exempt from this fee”

Talk about losing focus.
+ car ownership and use
+ free on-street parking
+ studded tires

= nope, not worth charging for

riding a Trimet bus

= oh, now that we need to penalize, no exemptions for you, NO! In fact, we’re going to charge you twice: once for not owning a car, and twice for riding Trimet

AG
Guest
AG

I don’t remember specifics, but at one meeting Novick talked about lobbying in Salem for changes to revenue. I think it was about studded tires. They are also looking seriously at metering and other revenue. Novick mentioned that the fee will not completely fill the gap so additional revenue sources will be sought.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

What a hypocrite to promise increased meter fees but PROMISE an exemption for the surface parking lots!

9watts
Guest
9watts

If voters don’t like the fee, Novick said, “They can throw us out.”

I find this odd. I would normally think someone would say this in the context of having made a bold move, having sunk a bunch of political capital into, that broke the mold, that the public might one day look back on and recognize as prescient.

This street fee is none of those things. They even admit that they’re copying the suburbs.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is a sign that they believe they are too popular to lose an election. This is probably because the only people that run against them are right wing fringe candidates that have no chance at winning.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

it’s easy to say when you’ve got a couple more years in office… you can bet he won’t say anything like that in 2 years…

but he’s got a couple years to redeem himself before I vote him out… wait, I didn’t vote him in…

Reza
Guest
Reza

I notice nobody is mentioning how multi-family households would get a discount. Who wants to bet that the people kvetching here, on Willamette Week, Oregon Live, etc., are for the most part single-family homeowners?

Kudos for the City recognizing that multi-family households, regardless of income, put lower demand on the street system and should pay less.

9watts
Guest
9watts

What is a multi-family household? Do you mean multifamily buildings?
What is the argument for offering this discount?
If we’re offering discounts wouldn’t not owning a car (~16% of Multnomah Co. households) be a good first approximation?

Mike
Guest
Mike

Good question. What if every family in the “household” owns one car or more?
Should their cost be lower just because they live with other people, regardless of how much they drive? That does not see fair to the car-less family that lives in a single family household.

9watts
Guest
9watts

That was not just a rhetorical question. I am very interested to know the argument for offering multifamily households a discount but not offering a discount/waiver to those who don’t own a car. Anyone?

J_R
Guest
J_R

The recognized source of trip generation information is from the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ publication “Trip Generation.” It’s now in its ninth edition. (A new edition is issued about every five years.) “Trip Generation” is a summary of thousands of studies where traffic going into and out of various land uses is presented. Besides the weekday period, it also has data for the AM peak hour, PM peak hour and various other periods.

There are about two hundred different land use categories. For some, such as single-family residences, office buildings, and shopping centers, there are hundreds of studies. For other land uses, there may be fewer than a dozen studies.

The data shows that apartments generate, on average, fewer trips than do detached single family homes. The number of trips generated on an average weekday by a detached single family dwelling is 9.52. For an apartment the value is 6.65. Again, this is an average based on literally hundreds of studies. This is the basis for the Hales-Novick proposal that has a lower fee for multi-family dwellings.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

What is a multi-family household? Do you mean multifamily buildings?

multi-family household means that multiple different families live in one single-family home… think of those 6 bedroom 2 bath college houses, they have 6 families living in 1 home…

a multi-family building is like an apartment or an officially split house with separate residences within…

I currently live in a multi-family house… there are 5 of us and only 1 car (plus a motorcycle)… there’s about 8 bikes in the garage…

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

so if you’re doing the math on my house, $11.56 / 5 = $2.312 per person…

or the college house, $11.56 / 6 = $1.926 per person…

so having a small family in a single house means you’re paying a lot more per person… a large family in a single house may only pay the same per person as a college roommate situation where there are multiple small families in one house…

9watts
Guest
9watts

“multi-family household means that multiple different families live in one single-family home”

perhaps. Though J_R’s investigation (below) suggest the city administrators came to a different conclusion:

“…the discounted multi-family rate would apply if there is a single water meter for the complex or building. So, if there are individual meters, you get to pay the full fee same as the detached single-family home.”

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

so we only have to split the $6.79 5 ways now? that’s even cheaper! good for me I guess…

davemess
Guest
davemess

Ha linking it all back to the water bureau!

9watts
Guest
9watts

Oh I just googled this. I somehow missed the multifamily building discount. $6.79/mo according to the Oregonian. Now we have four residential rates, and none of them mention car ownership. I don’t get it. What an excellent (but missed) opportunity to highlight/reward carfree households!

“Another draft document circling through City Hall shows households could see a $11.56 per month fee, with poorer residents paying $8.09 per month. Households in multi-family apartment complexes would be billed $6.79 per month, according to the draft document, with low-income residents in multifamily dwelling units paying the lowest rate of $4.75 per month.”

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

What are your facts? Do you believe that rich folks in fancy multi-family dwellings don’t have cars? This is a concession to campaign donors, aka real estate interests. What about city studies showing 75% of renters have cars? Evber drive past the Wimbledon Apartments near Reed? What makes you think they don’t use cars?

davemess
Guest
davemess

Does being in a multi-family “household” automatically equate with less automobiles?

9watts
Guest
9watts

I can’t see why that should count in their favor since those who we know don’t have automobiles are not given any sort of break. Besides Novick is on record saying that the reason for this structure is so that ‘everyone pays.’ Except now we’re seeing funny discounts that, well, I’m not sure what they are about.

RJ
Guest
RJ

Probably comes from ITE Trip Generation Handbook studies on different land uses. A wealth of studies show that multifamily units generate fewer trips, on average, than single family houses. This is probably the same way they’re coming up with different fees for different commercial uses.

davemess
Guest
davemess

If the whole point of this “fee” was to make it even across the board this is a TERRIBLE way to discount it for some while not others (based on national averages). Rewarding people in apartments, while not rewarding those without cars is silly (and I agree is clearly just a gift to developers, who would have guessed that would happen with Hales???).

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

I was at one of the town halls, and it was a sham! They were NOT listening, they were selling hard and shutting out dissenting opinions.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

I was at one of them, too. While I don’t think they specifically shut out dissent, it seemed to me that they cleverly framed the whole thing so that it sounded like the dissent was only coming from wacko climate-change deniers and crazed car-lovers. The rest of us–the moderates and bike-users and mad progressives–were kind of boxed into thinking, well, a small user fee is more rational that THAT…

davemess
Guest
davemess

Which is ironic because I think almost half of the attendees at the meeting I went to came by bike!

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

which would be a great thing if it were a worthy cause…

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

I can’t help but feel that the at large council is at the heart of our problems. Council can spend all of our money on their silly pet projects and thumb their noses at us. Does anybody know what it would take to switch to a representative council?

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Wikipedia helped my memory. We tried to change to a strong mayor form of government in 2007 (and apparently a number of other times in the past) but people didn’t support it. I can’t remember why.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_Portland,_Oregon

davemess
Guest
davemess

Yes!

F.W. de Klerk
Guest
F.W. de Klerk

I’m not holding my breath waiting too see if the money is fairly allocated. My guess is east Portland residents will continue to get scraps thrown to them as usual.

The attitudes of Hales and Novick say it all. Portland, you deserve better leaders.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

They haven’t passed it yet, give them a call and tell them what you think!
Mayor Charlie Hales
(503) 823-4120
mayorcharliehales@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Amanda Fritz
Phone: (503) 823-3008
Amanda@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Steve Novick
(503) 823-4682
novick@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Dan Saltzman
(503) 823-4151
dan@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Nick Fish
(503) 823-3589
nick@portlandoregon.gov

9watts
Guest
9watts

Thank you, MaxD. I just sent Amanda Fritz a letter.

reader
Guest
reader

‘If voters don’t like the fee, Novick said, “They can throw us out.”’

I will definitely be doing my part come election day.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

The only reason I can conceive of to want to pacify Goodman is to secure campaign contributions! Surface parking lots should be taxed out of existence, and for the Mayor of Portland to grant them exemptions reveals him as being anti-density, anti-jobs, anti-Oregon. That guy has got to go! When he was running for mayor, he was all talk about being the adult and making the tough decisions, now he is all “gas tax is better… but it is difficult for me to bring it up” (boo to self-serving politicians)

davemess
Guest
davemess

Well we get what we voted for (i.e. a guy who dodged taxes in WA but kept voting in OR).

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i did not vote for hales.

davemess
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davemess

Nor did I.

Robert L.
Guest
Robert L.

The only up side I can think of about this TAX (and this is a stretch) is we’ll have just that much more proof that those of us who choose to ride a bike pay for roads.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I disagree.
According to Todd Litman’s study Who Pays?, those of us who don’t own cars already overpay to the tune of several hundred dollars/yr. This is a fact. If people choose not to acknowledge or understand this then we have a problem. But that problem is not helped by this street fee. Why would those who refuse to understand the (existing) relative shares we all pay to build and maintain our transport infrastructure be mollified by this new approach?

If anything your argument plays into their hands, by arguing that, well, Now you’ll agree that we pay our fair share!

Drew
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Drew

When this passes, Portland property owners will be expected to deliver a monthly payment to subsidize driving.

Petroleum and automotive industries must be laughing all the way to the bank.

J_R
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J_R

As I’ve said so often on this forum: “Increase the gas tax” for the following reasons:

1)It more fairly allocates the costs to those who put more demands on the transportation system.
2)It causes a minor economic incentive to shift to less driving and more efficient vehicles.
3)The collection system is already in place. (Local option gas taxes are used by two counties and a dozen cities in Oregon). One of those is Multnomah County, from which Portland already receives a share of those gas tax revenues.
4)It causes non-resident, non-employees to pay some portion of the costs when they buy gas in Portland.

For those who think that non-residents, non-employees of Portland is an insignificant share of the usage, I offer the following from the Bureau of the Census:

More than 20,000 Clackamas County residents work in Washington County.
More than 14,000 Washington County residents work in Clackamas County.
More than 2200 Clark County (WA) residents work in Washington County.
More than 2800 Washington County residents work in Clark Co. (WA)
More than 6400 Clark County (WA) residents work in Washington County.

None of these people will pay at their residence and none of their employers will pay the Portland fee at the employment end of the trip. Many if not most of these people will use Portland streets for part of their trips to and from work on a daily basis.

Note that the above list is county-to-county. It doesn’t even include the Gresham to Washington County trips, for example.

As so many others point out, the Hales-Novick proposal is a subsidy for suburbanites and those driving lots. Being paid for by those who are doing what are supposedly the right things: living close to work and services and using alternative modes of transportation.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Time to warm this one up again?

Monthly Impact of Various State Gas Tax Increases on the Average Driver
$.10 = $4.31
$.20 = $8.62
$.30 = $12.93
Figure 4 from
http://www.itep.org/bettergastax/bettergastax.pdf

Spiffy
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Spiffy

props to Red Castle Games on Foster! they have a HAWK type of signal in front of their shop, which I often use to get across the street for libations…

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

Commissioner Novick said he wanted this morning’s event to be held at SE 34th and Gladstone because currently people in cars are “whipping around” the street corners even with two schools and a senior center nearby.

there’s a stoplight right in the middle of one of the schools and the senior building at the corner of the park on 32nd… the other (deaf) school has the light at 28th a block away… there’s no shortage of safe crossings for seniors and children…

BUT, it would be nice to have a beacon at 34th so you can cross at the east end of the park without risking your life or walking 3 blocks to the stoplight…

paikiala
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paikiala

34th is also one possible path for the 30’s greenway. 3 blocks in portland is about 600 ft. At typical walking speeds thats about 5 minutes delay (there and back (1200/3.5/60)). Who, walking, riding or driving, would consider a 5 minute delay acceptable?

MaxD
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MaxD

I think everyone would consider 5 minutes a delay

MaxD
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MaxD

I mean, an UNACCEPTABLE delay, if the only reason for teh delay is because you cannot cross the street.

Deborah Schultz
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Deborah Schultz

9watts
“But it’s a serious step forward in fixing the transportation funding gap”
Please explain.
By my calculations* the (expected net, annual) take from the street fee might yield ~10% of the annual maintenance backlog identified by Dylan Rivera to bikeportland late last year. With so much effort, political capital, public expense dedicated to this fee, how is this anything but a step backwards? With a gas tax you not only raise money (and at a lower cost) you also discourage the activity which is associated with nearly all the costs!
* http://bikeportland.org/2014/04/18/businesses-and-bikeways-city-reveals-more-details-on-street-fee-104800#comment-4735979
Recommended 7

I’m not opposed to a gax tax, but that has proven to be a real non-starter. Not to mention that gas taxes have been around for a long time, and they really aren’t doing the job to fill in the gaps. Also with higher mpg and electric vehicles, revenues are not guaranteed. I like the fact that this is an alternative to a gas tax, because it’s something new. I understand that a number are opposed to this method because it seems to discourage driving less.

Again, to reiterate my initial comment, I don’t in any way think this is a perfect solution. I would prefer a usage fee. But i think it’s a start at solving the problem by taxing all those that benefit from roads, not just those that buy gas. I like the fact that businesses are also going to be charged for their usage too. We all benefit from living and working on well maintained streets, no matter our mode of transportation.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“that has proven to be a real non-starter.”

What does that mean? It is a starter everywhere else in the world. Why are we special?

“Not to mention that gas taxes have been around for a long time, and they really aren’t doing the job to fill in the gaps.”

They’ve been around for equally long in many other countries. They have no problem indexing them to inflation, raising them periodically, or doing whatever they need to do to raise the money to fix their roads. This is not an argument against the gas tax. It is an argument against public administrators falling asleep at the wheel

“Also with higher mpg and electric vehicles, revenues are not guaranteed.”

Amazingly fuel economy of cars in Europe are higher than here, yet they can raise 3x as much money they need to maintain their roads with fuel taxes and other taxes on driving.

“I like the fact that this is an alternative to a gas tax, because it’s something new.”

Oh.

9watts
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9watts

“i think it’s a start at solving the problem by taxing all those that benefit from roads”

But this is not a start at all. Do you think a street fee is a jumping off point for raising the gas tax or a carbon fee? The kinds of things we need to do, but dithering makes this no easier. No, it is a step backwards because it confirms the a priori that we for some reason keep repeating here in the US, that we don’t raise gas taxes, but instead prefer to allow them to wither so we can say they aren’t up to the task. This is self-fulfilling and agonizingly short-sighted.

MaxD
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MaxD

The gas tax is not a “non-starter”, no one has invested any time or political capital into selling it. It is not doing its job because it hasn’t been raised in forever!

9watts
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9watts

Sadly, our own Jonathan Maus echoes this sentiment. I think the world of bikeportland but I can’t figure out how we can make any kind of progress on the fronts we here care about if we concede this one; shrug and write it off.

9watts
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9watts

nested wrong. meant to go after Deborah’s post.

Concordia Cyclist
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Concordia Cyclist

“…I don’t in any way think this is a perfect solution…”
It’s not even a good one. I don’t think anyone is expecting a perfect one.

9watts
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9watts

Reminds me of Don Hamilton, invoking the most perfect road, when the subject was Barbur Blvd, which he just admitted has about the worst record for crashes in the Portland area?

from the KATU story:
“‘We can have the most perfect road out there and bad judgment can still cause problems on the roads,’ said Hamilton.”

J_R
Guest
J_R

Deborah:
I agree with your statement that the gas tax has been around for a long time, but the reason “they aren’t doing the job to fill the gaps” is that they haven’t changed at all (Federal) and haven’t changed much (Oregon) since 1993.

The federal gas tax has been stuck at 18.4 cents per gallon (!) since 1993. Oregon’s tax, which was 24 cents per gallon in 1993, finally went up to 30 cents per gallon in 2011. During that same 21-year period, the Corps of Engineers’ Construction Cost index for roads, highways and bridges increased by a shade under 70 percent. If the gas tax had been indexed to inflation, the Federal tax would be 31 cents per gallon and the Oregon tax would be 41 cents per gallon.

It’s not that the gas tax doesn’t work. It’s the fact that the tax collected doesn’t buy as much as it did 21 years ago.

I will consider supporting a modest user fee AFTER the gas tax is adjusted for inflation.

J_R
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J_R

Hey, Everyone.
I read the 27-page draft transportation fee ordinance and found that unlike the gas tax, the fee would be indexed for inflation. Pretty cool, huh? If we had done that for the gas tax, there wouldn’t be a need for the new fee.
Also, the discounted multi-family rate would apply if there is a single water meter for the complex or building. So, if there are individual meters, you get to pay the full fee same as the detached single-family home.

9watts
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9watts

Aha. So does that mean this fee will get tacked onto the water bill?

davemess
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davemess

They talked about wanting to do that at the last town hall meeting.

Deborah Schultz
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Deborah Schultz

9watts
“i think it’s a start at solving the problem by taxing all those that benefit from roads”
But this is not a start at all. Do you think a street fee is a jumping off point for raising the gas tax or a carbon fee? The kinds of things we need to do, but dithering makes this no easier. No, it is a step backwards because it confirms the a priori that we for some reason keep repeating here in the US, that we don’t raise gas taxes, but instead prefer to allow them to wither so we can say they aren’t up to the task. This is self-fulfilling and agonizingly short-sighted.
Recommended 0

Sure – i totally understand that a gas tax is one of the most logical solutions to reduce car usage. But there’s a reason that they haven’t gone up in the past 21 years. I have no doubt that it has to do with auto and gas industry lobbyists. This solution is not ideal, but i don’t see it as a step backward at all. I think it could be adapted to a street usage fee/congestion fee instead of one that is per household based. Maybe even based on car registration. But of course those two methods would take far more logistics to implement, which is probably why this one was what they are considering moving forward with.

9watts
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9watts

“The gas tax is a perfect tax. It’s not invasive on the person using it and it requires very little effort on the agency that depends on that money for providing services,” says Olson. “Trying to replace that is really difficult, because anything you try to do is so much more complicated than just pulling up to the pump and paying for gas.”

Olson is Mary Olson, (former? ) Oregon Transportation Commission member

http://bikeportland.org/2014/03/31/city-telephone-poll-puts-pbots-search-for-revenue-at-about-24-million-103766#comment-4658635

dwainedibbly
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dwainedibbly

It was a perfect tax when all vehicles ran on liquid motor fuels, perhaps, but not now..

9watts
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9watts

Why does a gas tax work everywhere else? I know no one in Germany who wrings their hands about fuel economy improvements eroding the take. No, they just raise the tax, and continue to enjoy free higher education and free medical care since they have so much money left over after repairing their roads. 🙂

9watts
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9watts

Deborah,
I’d be curious to hear your reactions to this graph:
It compares amount of money spent per household on gasoline in most countries in the world and fuel taxes.
http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/gas-prices/
and an article about the chart:
http://grist.org/climate-energy/why-we-should-raise-the-gas-tax-and-why-we-wont/

J_R
Guest
J_R

The gas tax collection system is already in place and is very efficient. The tax is levied at the wholesale level, which means very few people are needed to pay it and administer it.

The license fee system is also already in place. Oh, and I have to pay an extra $18 per year for my car to pay for the Sellwood Bridge even though most of the users are from Clackamas County.

My car puts no demand on the transportation system when it’s in the garage, so I object to paying any more in annual license fees.

Portland proposes to create an entirely new fee and collection system. There’s no telling how much the administrative costs will be and how much money and effort will have to be expended by business owners who seek to have building size or transportation trip generation errors corrected when the city calculates the fees.

Just because the auto and oil industry has resisted something in the past doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to fix the problem by adjusting the rates to account for the higher cost of constructing and maintaining the system.

I do think a household-based user fee would be a step backwards. It reduces the economic incentive for doing the right things.

davemess
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davemess

But this proposed method is WAY more logistically difficult than an increase to the gas tax (which is already completely embedded).

Deborah Schultz
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Deborah Schultz

9watts
Deborah,
I’d be curious to hear your reactions to this graph:
It compares amount of money spent per household on gasoline in most countries in the world and fuel taxes.
http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/gas-prices/
and an article about the chart:
http://grist.org/climate-energy/why-we-should-raise-the-gas-tax-and-why-we-wont/
Recommended 0

Perfect is the enemy of good.

9watts
Guest
9watts

That was your takeway?
From Grist:
“There is a counterintuitive relationship between gas prices and the burden they place on the average citizen’s finances: The more gas costs, the less gas people buy, and so the less they are weighed down by gas costs.”

You’re trying to convince me that the street fee is the good, the enemy of which is the gas tax, which as we just read has a delightful equilibrating effect?

Continuing:
“the U.S. has the world’s 50th highest gasoline prices, $3.66 per gallon in September, but the fifth highest proportion of annual income spent on gas purchases. Those rankings are almost exactly reversed in European countries with high gas taxes. The Netherlands has the world’s third highest gas price, $8.89 per gallon, but the 34th highest proportion of income spent on gasoline. Italy ranks fourth highest in gas prices, $8.61 per gallon, and 38th in proportional spending on gas. Gas taxes in Italy and the Netherlands, like most of Europe, are about 10 times higher than those in the U.S. Furthermore, in a country such as Norway, where gas currently costs $10.08 per gallon, that revenue comes back to the public in the form of government programs, such as free college tuition. Lower gas consumption also means better local air quality and reduced greenhouse emissions, and more exercise and less obesity among the populace.”

In places with high gas taxes the amount of income people spend on gas is much, much lower than it is here, where the gas taxes are puny.

spare_wheel
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spare_wheel

making poor people pay for roads damaged primarily by private trucking and large single occupancy vehicles is neither perfect nor good. i tentatively supported this fee when they proposed an exemption for low income people, now that they are planning to sock it to the poorest of the poor i am vehemently opposed.

Mossby Pomegranate
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Mossby Pomegranate

Low income people drive a lot too.

spare_wheel
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spare_wheel

the bottom quintile has the highest percentage of car-less (and house-less) folk. at one time being a progressive or liberal meant caring about these people, now not so much.

Terry D
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Terry D

At least the homeless will be exept since it is based on physical households themselvess, where in thoerey a Portland homeless pan handler is committing tax evasion by not paying the art’s tax if it is above $1000 a year.

Concordia Cyclist
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Concordia Cyclist

Again, a straw man argument. Nobody is asking for perfect. Just better.

Christopher Sanderson
Guest

Will Metro contribute $$$ to pay for the enormous ruts their buses make?

Christopher Sanderson
Guest

Busses!

babygorilla
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babygorilla

Yes, in fact. Metro will need to pay pursuant to the property it owns within city limits. So will all of Portland’s public schools, state agencies, and apparently all city agencies. Even the parks dept will have to pony up. Its a nice double tax.

The only exemptions are for parking lots and certain railroad property.

J_R
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J_R

Metro doesn’t run the buses in the Portland region. Metro does planning, runs the zoo, and operates some parks and related facilities. TriMet runs the buses, light rail, and the westside train. Portland operates the streetcar.

davemess
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davemess

Studded tires have their hand in those ruts as well.

9watts
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9watts

I wonder if a large part of our cultural, or at least political, hangup with the gas tax has to do with the fact that we struggle to appreciate the dynamic aspects of raising it. Average residents in those countries with high gas taxes (some have instituted gas taxes 10x higher than we have here in the US) pay a lower proportion of their income on gasoline than we–who have hardly any tax on our gas–do.

No such elegance adheres to what is being discussed here. And it never will.

John Liu
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John Liu

Government is the art of the possible.

City Hall can’t make many of the gas tax and other changes being called for here.

Nor can they determine with precision that you use only $3.23 of roads, sidewalks, crosswalks and bridges a month while your neighbor uses $12.19, and bill you each accordingly.

So this fee is about what is possible. It is $160/year for me: not enough for me to whine about.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“City Hall can’t make many of the gas tax and other changes being called for here.”

Of course they can/could. Many Oregon cities have gas taxes. We even have a Multnomah Co. gas tax (that could be raised, that city officials could encourage be raised, lend their support to, etc.) Why do you say they cannot?

“Nor can they determine with precision that you use only $3.23 of roads, sidewalks, crosswalks and bridges a month while your neighbor uses $12.19, and bill you each accordingly. ”

I think we all know this. Which is one of the chief reasons why the street fee is such a clunky administrative nightmare. The gas tax suffers from none of these problems.

9watts
Guest
9watts

(a) gas tax indexed to inflation
(b) carbon tax (fee and dividend)
(c) street fee indexed to inflation

which of these is not like the others?

The beauty of the two that focus on energy consumption is that we who are expected to pay them can do something about it. We can consume less gasoline, less carbon, and our burden goes down. Of course the burden placed on everyone else from the carbon we otherwise might have burned also goes down. Everyone wins. Brilliant.

But what about the street fee? How can I reduce my burden?

Nothing whatsoever. It goes up every year and I am expected to pay.

And what about the burden to society from the activities that are generating the costs the fee is meant to pay to redress? How is it related to this fee? Does it decline?

(white space for consideration)

I don’t see how it does, since the fee isn’t linked in any way to the activities that we all recognize as burdensome. Who ever came up with this?

paikiala
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paikiala

9watts
“ The gas tax suffers from none of these problems.

Recommended 0

What is does suffer from is pedestrians and cyclists don’t directly pay it, so those that do can justifiably argue that revenue collected via gas taxes should only be spent on facilities serving motor vehicles.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“What is does suffer from is pedestrians and cyclists don’t directly pay it, so those that do can justifiably argue that revenue collected via gas taxes should only be spent on facilities serving motor vehicles.”

Paikikala,
we’ve had this discussion before. Pedestrians and cyclists DON’T COST US ANYTHING; DON’T WEAR OUT OUR INFRASTRUCTURE. So I fail to see why we should pay (more than we already do through our taxes) to repair streets that we have not directly worn out, and may not even have contributed to indirectly.

As for the ‘gas taxes shouldn’t be used to build bikeways’ argument, that is just silly. Broken record alert: We wouldn’t need any bikeways but for the overwhelming presence of the automobile. Or sidewalks.

Anne Hawley
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Anne Hawley

While I’m generally in agreement with your point of view, 9watts, I feel like It’s disingenuous to assert that as a non-car-owner I have ZERO impact on the road just because I don’t personally wear it out. I depend extra heavily on the UPS and FedEx trucks that roll down my street every day, not to mention all the heavy vehicles that bring groceries to my walkable neighborhood store, etc.

We all use the roads. Granted, some of us less than others, but none of us not at all.

9watts
Guest
9watts

You are correct, Anne.
What I was trying to say (not as clearly as I might) was that–per Todd Litman–our direct use of the streets exacts miniscule wear and expense, at the same time that our contribution (via the taxes we pay) to the maintenance of those streets exceeds that figure by a long shot (an order of magnitude?). Paikikala’s point I think was that ‘we all need to pay our fair share to deserve mode specific infrastructure.’ I think we already have got this covered and don’t need any more fees to assure equity.

Nick
Guest
Nick

By BTA’s own estimate, if I remember correctly, one car exerts the same road damage as ~9000 bicycles.

Christopher Sanderson
Guest

I am curious to know how much my business will get taxed on the “calculation for business trips.” Does my bike constitute the same wear and tear as say a large Ford F-250? I think I can agree more with the gas tax here.

J_R
Guest
J_R

What you need to provide is the size of your building and the land use or activity you perform. Provide those and I can probably make a reasonable estimate of your tax, I mean, fee. Seriously, if you provide numbers, I can provide an estimate.

paikiala
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paikiala

I don’t disagree with you, it’s just a much longer road (10-20 years per the MADD example) to change people’s perception that they are responsible to mitigate for the damage their choices cause.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

You do NEED infrastructure, so there ARE costs.

Mike
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Mike

Does weather play a part in the deterioration of our roads or should all the blame be put on cars? Maybe there are other factors you should think about

davemess
Guest
davemess

That’s fine since those sources only cover about 60% of our transportation funding. If they paid for it completely it would be a different argument.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Pedestrians and cyclists who pay federal taxes are paying for roads already.

Pete
Guest
Pete

By your logic, those that do not have children can justifiably argue they should not pay for teachers and schools.

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

They’re trying to do everything they can to raise revenues except commit political suicide by proposing a sales tax or a City income tax. (I really think the Arts tax is eventually going to morph into an income tax. It hasn’t happened yet because the courts didn’t shoot it down for being a poll tax.)

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

It would be brave, indeed, to pursue a course that almost guarantees you will not be elected, but as the song says ‘all the saints we see are gold’.

gutterbunnybikes
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gutterbunnybikes

Though I do think there are better ways of getting the money (most through gas tax and drastically raising the cost of traffic citations). My biggest problem with this whole thing is that it is a stupid monthly bill.

I would prefer it to be added to the property taxes. That way I (or my lender for a few more years) need only worry about it since it would rolled into my mortgage payments. Easier to pay, and since the it’s an established payment system – easier to collect.

davemess
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davemess

Bingo! I hope there is a yearly option at least.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Another advantage of having it as a part of the property tax bill is that property tax is deductible from your state and federal income tax bill, at least if you itemize your deductions.

007
Guest
007

I think I’ll have my Vancouver and Camas coworkers pay mine. They are cognizant of how lucky they are to have a job in Oregon, they understand that paying our state income tax is b.c. an Oregon resident could otherwise have their job and be grateful to pay the income tax. Also the 70,000 Washingtonians who drive over here every weekday are very generous. Ha! ha ha ha! ha! ha!

David Sweet
Guest
David Sweet

A common misunderstanding here is that we only make use of the streets while we are driving on them. What we should be talking about is the City’s transportation system, and how we all rely on it constantly–even when we are sitting at home. It’s how we get our mail delivered and our garbage and recycling removed. It’s how the shops and restaurants we frequent get supplied. It supports the businesses that employ us, including those of us who are self-employed or work from home. I’d like to hear less about how much each person does or doesn’t use the streets and more about the benefits we all share from them.

The proposed fee is deeply flawed. It’s regressive, it’s unfair, and many of us think we can suggest a better way to raise revenue. But this user fee may be least bad way to do it. It is more likely than other ideas to be passed by the Council and tolerated by Portlanders. And when you consider the way we all rely on our street system, maybe it’s not so unfair.

There is no question that PBOT needs additional funding for our streets. In the last two years their budget has been cut by $20 million. The agency is lean to the point of starvation. Federal money that used to pour in has slowed to a trickle. If we hope to see new investments in our streets–bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, signage, paving of dirt streets–we need more money. We need to pay for it–all of us. I’m actually pleased that my fees will go to support something that I need and use every day–whether I’m on my bike, in my car, walking, sitting at home, or working in my garden.

It’s been suggested that the best tax is the one that someone else pays. Our streets need to be supported by all of us.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

We only damage them while we’re using them.

Yes, we buy things that came in on a truck, but that truck uses gas that includes a gas tax. We eventually pay that gas tax through the price of what we buy.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“There is no question that PBOT needs additional funding for our streets. In the last two years their budget has been cut by $20 million.”

Here’s what I don’t understand. PBOT and our last few mayors have spent years tinkering with this fee. Now they are (once again) ready to launch it. This effort has to have cost tax payers hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million? And I’ve not seen any estimate that suggests this fee is going to raise anywhere near what its proponents admit we need just to fix the roads we have, stay afloat. We hear that additional funds will be necessary. O.K.? Why spend so much time and resources on something that has all the flaws you list, and a good many more, and it is only going to raise a quarter, or a tenth of the maintenance shortfall?

ODOT is also out of money. And yet all these clowns fell over themselves pushing for the CRC, for which there was most definitely no money.

I want to see the overall plan, understand the bigger picture. Where is the long range planning, the rainy day fund, the acknowledgement that tomorrow everything may look very different (probably worse)? The National Climate Assessment that came out earlier this month has a chapter on transportation:
http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/sectors/transportation
It is all about the rising costs of dealing with expected fallout from climate change. This street fee, as painful as its gestation has been, is hardly the answer to our problems. Why have our elected officials and staff spent so much time screwing around with this flawed and fairly minor mechanism for raising money? How are we going to raise the rest, or, failing that, do without the things that it would have paid for?

“Our streets need to be supported by all of us.”

Are you suggesting that this isn’t the case – right now? Calling for unity in the absence of an overarching strategy is not helpful. We deserve to know what this street fee is a part of, why it doesn’t compute.

David Sweet
Guest
David Sweet

I disagree with the idea that if we can’t do everything, we shouldn’t do something. It is not realistic that we can find the revenue to catch up with the maintenance backlog, and make all the safety improvements we need, and build sidewalks where we lack them, and build out the Bicycle 2030 Plan, and…. This will be a start, and we will be able to do $40-50 million more than we can do now.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“I disagree with the idea that if we can’t do everything, we shouldn’t do something.”
I was not talking at all about implementation. I was talking about transparency when it comes to the larger strategy.

“It is not realistic that we can find the revenue to catch up with the maintenance backlog, and make all the safety improvements we need, and build sidewalks where we lack them, and build out the Bicycle 2030 Plan, and….”

Why not? Was it realistic to clamor for the CRC? Spend almost $200M on this? I dare say not. But they (Oregon transportation & elected officials) did it anyway. I don’t think this is about what is or isn’t realistic. I think it is about priorities and transparency and having an overall strategy that you can articulate and defend.

Muddling through isn’t good enough.
Leah Treat makes, what, $170,000+/yr? I think we can expect more from these people.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I would just like PBOT to stop repaving streets that don’t need it (looking at you SE 52nd, Woodstock, Gladstone, etc.). An agency that spends it’s money this way does not instill confidence to spend this new money well either.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

se harrison was a glaring example.

kittens
Guest
kittens

They are constantly repaving these “first responder routes” or whatever they call it, in the name of safety. 90% of our streets are on a paving moratorium.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Your Daveness,
What is your specialized knowledge of pavement design and maintenance that you can proclaim which road is in need of maintenance and which is not? Maintenance is performed on ‘streets of significance’ based on their heirarchy in the system. If portland delays routine maintenance, taxpayers end up needing to rebuild the street from the ground up (that’s the sub-base, below the base layer, base and wearing surfaces, BTW), just like if you fail to maintain your car engine.

davemess
Guest
davemess

My special knowledge is riding and driving over the roads every single day. The riding and driving over other roads that significantly more deteriorated pavement and more potholes.
I’m hoping PBOT has more knowledge than me and has great reasons. I would just like to here there. I haven’t seen much indication of what/how they have been spending their money at the town hall meetings. Just “we have a huge backlog and not enough money and we need more, trust us”. The only thing I have to go on is my eyes, tires, and personal experience.

If you have special knowledge I would be glad to hear it.

davemess
Guest
davemess

sorry, “Then riding and driving over other roads (which don’t get repaved) that have significantly more deteriorated surfaces and more potholes.”

Steph Routh
Guest
Steph Routh

Well said, David, and thank you for all your work in the past few months of bringing up concerns related to this proposal, as well as your efforts over the years to make equitable investments a priority in Portland.

Someone at a meeting the other day called this a “sweet and sour dish,” a means of funding safety improvements that will save lives (sweet) using a fee that is regressive in its default mode (sour). The regressiveness of the street fee is indeed frustrating, as you and many others (including Novick) have stated.

I’d like to give a big “hats off” to the housing, transportation, and justice advocates who have been actively engaging with City staff about how to create a graduated fee structure that relieves households with lower incomes from the burden of what would otherwise be a flat tax. There’s a lot more to do—including with small and emerging businesses—but transportation funding is needed to shift long-standing inequities in East Portland and throughout the City. Let’s look at how a street fee could be administered to 1) shift the burdens for small businesses and families with lower incomes; and 2) ensure solid reporting and accountability to ensure that low-income discounts are getting to the people who need them and that the funds are being spent equitably. IMO, it’s roll-up-your-sleeves time.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“I’d like to give a big “hats off” to the housing, transportation, and justice advocates who have been actively engaging with City staff about how to create a graduated fee structure that relieves households with lower incomes from the burden of what would otherwise be a flat tax.”

I appreciate your generosity, Steph, but I have to ask whether those advocates ever considered that a gas tax could avoid any of these problems? The key difference to me between these two is that a gas tax is something I can opt out of or at least reduce my costs by driving less: I benefit by keeping money in my pocket, the streets benefit from less wear, and and everyone else benefits from one fewer car on the roads, whereas the street fee is something I’m stuck with (for the rest of my life?), unless of course I emigrate. That seems neither equitable nor elegant.

Steph Routh
Guest
Steph Routh

Hi 9watts, appreciate the question and your comments. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a meeting about transportation funding when the gas tax is not mentioned! One of the reasons we’re in this funding pickle is that the state gas tax is a revenue of diminishing returns, and that Multnomah County in particular is in some fiscal ways a victim of its own success. For that reason, and a few others that we could get into over a beverage sometime, I don’t believe a local gas tax would fly. It’s a bummer. I get it. I feel it. The street fee does nothing to incentivize people to not drive. That is a big ole drawback that has been discussed at length. That all said, the reality is that we simply don’t yet have a city that allows all of its residents equitable transportation choices.

I’m very glad that you can opt out of driving. A lot of people simply can’t. The 2010 Census data shows that families with lower incomes have been pushed out to East Portland and also Washington County, which are more transportation choice-poor areas. I’ve never had to own a car. I’m white, college educated, and am privileged to have a job downtown that allows me non-driving transportation choices. Many others have been displaced from neighborhoods in Portland and are not so lucky. One could state that use of modes that cost the City more should be charged more. That is a logical framework. However, another frame is this: Should someone who has ben pushed out to “The Numbers” and has to drive to her third shift job on Airport Way be expected to pay for safety improvements that are more likely to improve my quality of life than hers in the near term? Do I honestly have no obligation to pay for improvements that benefit me, particularly if I have more disposable income without a car and therefore potentially more ability to pay? How do you square that?

007
Guest
007

Suburbanites and Vancouver and Camas residents could car pool, take the express bus or live where they work. Way more people, including Portlanders, can use alt transportation, they simply won’t.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Steph Routh
If the politicians will not work for a gas tax, then they should look at parking. Cheap/free parking also incentivises Single Occupancy Vehicle trips and discourages the use of alternative transportation. The city should be taxing the heck out of surface lots (and not exempting them as proposed!!), raising meeter fees, expanding meters, raising permits fees, etc. This street fee takes our city down the wrong path, and backtracks on decades of planning and investment to densify and create livable neighborhoods.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“The 2010 Census data shows that families with lower incomes have been pushed out to East Portland and also Washington County, which are more transportation choice-poor areas. I’ve never had to own a car. I’m white, college educated, and am privileged to have a job downtown that allows me non-driving transportation choices.”

If the crafters of this fee really gave a @#$% about lower income families they would have made them exempt. This fee is in essence a neo-con flat tax on the poor.

davemess
Guest
davemess

This is exact same response to a gas tax Novick gave (incredibly vague and not very fulfilling). The gas tax is also diminishing because it hasn’t been raised in 21 years. Sure there are less miles being driving and a small fraction of people have electric vehicles. These two factors (versus the insane congestion we see on some streets during peak hours) does not make me believe funds from a gas tax increase will be as diminished as you might think.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“I don’t believe a local gas tax would fly.”

This is the root of our problem. So many of us, who should know better, repeat this, as if it were some iron law of politics or polite conversation. It isn’t. The sooner we stop parroting this, the better for all of us. Soon we will need to come around to what the rest of the world already knows: tax what we as a society can’t afford (cigarettes, gasoline, gambling high fructose corn syrup), & reward what improves livability, saves everyone money.

“I’m very glad that you can opt out of driving. A lot of people simply can’t.”

Interesting. It seems that we want it both ways. When I mention that 16% of Multnomah Co. households don’t own cars—and I do every chance I get–the first words out of nearly everyone’s mouth are: well those are poor people, people who would like to but can’t afford a car. Then we have the equally common opposite claim that it is poor people who are less able to jettison the car. Both of these claims are much too broad brush for my tastes. Many countries and municipalities have figured out a way to soften the blow of stiff gas taxes for poor people. Are we really saying we can’t copy their tricks? Never mind that, the last time I checked, gasoline consumption increases with income.

“Should someone who has ben pushed out to “The Numbers” and has to drive to her third shift job on Airport Way be expected to pay for safety improvements that are more likely to improve my quality of life than hers in the near term?”

Now you’re reaching a little. Inequity of how our transportation dollars is a problem. So is poverty, and so is our inability to elect straight-talking, clear-thinking politicians. But let’s not wrap all the social and political ills of our little county in with transportation funding. The waters get so muddy, boiling my tap water isn’t even enough.

“Do I honestly have no obligation to pay for improvements that benefit me, particularly if I have more disposable income without a car and therefore potentially more ability to pay? How do you square that?”

I have yet to hear anyone dispute Todd Litman’s numbers. Those of us (poor and wealthy) who don’t own cars and who pay taxes overpay—significantly– right now for infrastructure. How do you square that with this new fee?

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Steph,
I think it is despicable that the poorest residents are expect to pay, yet the Goodman family (who is inhibiting density and redevelopment and leeching off the city with surface parking lots) gets an exemption!

I would say this is more than sour, it is acidic

Steph Routh
Guest
Steph Routh

That sounds like a really great and important thing to bring up at City Council in testimony, MaxD.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

I agree. I brought it up at the town halls, but they are not listening. They are going to have to hear from A LOT of people before they change their minds on this one. In fact, anyone who wants to express an opinion, should!:
Mayor Charlie Hales
(503) 823-4120
mayorcharliehales@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Amanda Fritz
Phone: (503) 823-3008
Amanda@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Steve Novick
(503) 823-4682
novick@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Dan Saltzman
(503) 823-4151
dan@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Nick Fish
(503) 823-3589
nick@portlandoregon.gov

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Remember folks…you voted for this. Don’t complain now.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

it only takes ~35,000 votes to get a recall.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

DO complain now! Now is the exact right to complain, and complain directly to the people who are supposed to be representing you! Why on earth would you not complain now?!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

I’ve just added the links to the PDFs of the Charter Amendment and the Draft Oridinance. You can also see all the new documents on PBOT’s website.

Jon
Guest
Jon