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Comment of the Week: A good review for Director Treat

Posted by on August 22nd, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Street fee press conference-2

Transportation Director Leah Treat at a city
press conference in April.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Like her predecessor Tom Miller, Portland’s top transportation bureaucrat is part of a class of bike-friendly Generation Xers who, after working up the ladder for years, are moving into the top perches of government.

Hired last year, Director Leah Treat turned out to be the first of three such faces on the West Coast alone. Last month, Seleta Reynolds of San Francisco’s livable streets division was tapped to lead the vast Los Angeles transportation department and Scott Kubly, who like Treat was a top lieutenant to fellow Xer Gabe Klein in Washington and Chicago, was named to the same role in Seattle.

As we wait to see how these youngish, multimodal, digitally connected folks bring to leadership, it’s nice to see praise this week for Treat’s interest and dedication from BikePortland reader Terry D.


On Monday’s post about a tour Treat and Commissioner Steve Novick led of the city’s street troubles, Terry wrote:

I met Leah Treat at the 82nd ride hosted by Sen Dembrow, and considering that I am transportation chair for [only one of] almost 100 Portland neighborhoods, I was really impressed by her.

Not only did she remember me from a public speaking forum where I spoke for less than five minutes then introduced myself afterward as a “community greenway activist” right when she got into town, but when I started talking bike lanes on Burnside when the pavement needs a grind down, and greenway conductivity/MAX access in North Tabor she was interested and responsive. I e-mailed her the next week, and she spent significant time on her end getting me information, sending requests out to department heads and responding to me personally with a very long and detailed email on a Saturday morning.

She wishes “all neighborhoods were as proactive with their needs.” When she say she needs to hear voices for active transportation from the community, she is speaking the truth. The biggest thing we can do right now is speak up, and defend, a new local transportation income stream that we can use to retrofit our city for safety/bike conductivity.

I personally think the residential side will take the form of a progressive income tax. This way everyone pays, there is a low income threshold and locally we can make up for, if only by a few percent, the nearly flat state income tax and the federal tax system where the upper incomes are getting away with highway robbery….literally in this case.

Treat has publicly suggested several times that under Portland’s commissioner-based government, her ability to make policy changes depends on support from Novick and the rest of city council. And every indication is that for whatever reason, Portland’s city council (and Treat) are willing to postpone all significant changes to Portland streets — bike share, parking reform, neighborhood greenway expansion, even a few crosswalk improvements — until new money has been found.

For people who believe in improving Portland’s human-powered transportation, the question is what sort of revenue plan, if any, would deserve support. But until that question is resolved, it’s good to know that Treat is up on Saturday mornings to build connections and help solve problems where she can.

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davemessRJJohn RMichael Andersen (News Editor)9watts Recent comment authors
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Oregon’s income tax rates are not a flat tax, the top tax bracket pays nearly 10% where as the bottom bracket is only 5%. I continue to hope that if a new tax is passed that they make sure that those who commute into portland also pay into it rather than like in the case of the Selwood bridge where those who use the bridge the most didn’t contribute at all.

leah treat

I am humbled and inspired. Thank you Terry D and all the activists who spend countless hours pushing a progressive transportation agenda focused on multi-modalism, livability, and safety for everyone.


The best way to have a progressive transportation agenda is for those who put the greatest demand on the system pay their fair share or a bit more. That means a GAS TAX. Those who drive more pay more. Those who drive inefficient gas hogs pay more.

A local option gas tax also means that those who buy gas in the locality, even occasionally, pay a portion of the bill.

Terry D
Terry D

Thank you for the comment complement!….I did say “Nearly flat state income tax”…a few very poor pay less, and a few very rich pay a percent or two more.

We need a LONG term fix, that is why the gas tax is a dinosaur (as I have said before 9watts. 😉 The number of electric cars is increasing rapidity and new breakthroughs in hydrogen fuel cell technology are right around the corner. With the amount of political lift it will require to pas ANY tax increase we need to push for something that will work for a GENERATION at least.

My first choice would be a carbon tax, but even in “Green Portland” this does not seem to have majority support. Hence, why I think a Portland Income tax… which will pass if it is truly progressive ..and let us wrap that regressive art’s tax into it, pretty please?

Christopher Sanderson

How then do we tax all the people who drive in from Vancouver, Gresham, Beavertron, Hillsboro, Calackistan, and other outlying areas? Do you mean to tell me that my business activities on a cargo bike have as much impact as Joe Contractor driving over the river from Vancouver in a giant, black Dodge Ram 2500 tank machine of a truck (who of course is taking advantage of several tax breaks!), and takes his paycheck back to Washington with him? I say phooey to the street fee! Gas tax that man… Hell, make him pay a toll to cross that bridge!

All that said… Yay Leah Treat!


If you are referring to those from Clark county, they do pay Oregon income tax and then go home and use their local services like schools.

Oregon has been on the winning side of this equation all along.

John R
John R

Funny how what started as a huge compliment to Director Treat turned into a discussion about taxes, money, and funding. Sad if this is what defines her tenure.