Highlighting support from BTA, Novick will put local gas tax on May 2016 ballot

Posted by on October 5th, 2015 at 11:55 am

Bike Share passage press conference-3.jpg

Novick hopes second time’s a charm.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

After dismissing it as too unpopular to even merit discussion prior to his last (failed) attempt to raise new revenue for transportation infrastructure, Commissioner Steve Novick now plans to put a 10-cent gas tax on the May 2016 ballot.

After a discussion about the proposal with community leaders today, Novick’s office sent out a press release exclaiming that, “Momentum builds for Portland gas tax to fund street repair and traffic safety.”

And in a marked departure from he and Mayor Charlie Hales’ previous strategy, Novick is not shying away from the “b” word (bikes).

Why has Novick shifted his thinking on the gas tax issue? Because he’s now heard support for the idea from many influential places including: a recent report by the City Club of Portland, a letter he received from the Portland Business Alliance, support from Mayor Charlie Hales and his primary opponent Ted Wheeler, the editorial boards of both the Portland Tribune and The Oregonian, and a recent survey showing that members of the NE Coalition of Neighborhoods picked a local gas tax as the most popular way to fund transportation.

And then there’s this:

Now, a new scientific survey of 400 Portland voters shows that voters support a ten cents per gallon, four year gas tax for street repair and traffic safety by a margin of 55% to 37%. The survey was conducted by Lake Research Partners September 24-28, 2015.

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Novick’s plan is to ask voters to support a four-year, 10-cent gas tax that would raise $58 million in new revenue.

In his press release today Novick included supportive statements from veteran east Portland transportation activist David Hampsten.

More notably, in a direct shift from he and Hales’ previous strategy to not mention cycling at all around talks of new revenue, Novick has included a comment from Bicycle Transportation Alliance leader Rob Sadowsky in his statement. “Not only do we need well-maintained roads, but also we will need to continue to invest in low-cost improvements that add capacity for transit, walking and biking,” Sadowsky said in support of Novick’s plan.

Novick has also released a detailed list of projects that would be funded over the next four years with the new gas tax revenue. Here’s the general breakdown:

projectlist

If you’re keeping track that adds up to $32.5 million for paving projects and about $25.5 million for biking, walking, and safety projects. But also keep in mind that the Bureau of Transportation often uses paving projects as an opportunity to re-stripe roads in a way that’s safer and improves access for bicycling and walking.

Read Novick’s full statement and see which specific projects will be funded via this PDF.

We’ll have much more coverage and analysis of this to come. Stay tuned.

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Adam
Subscriber

Only four years? It should be a permanent gas tax. Also, no thanks to more “low-cost improvements” for bikes. We need real separated infrastructure, not more sharrows.

Adam
Subscriber

Glad to see protected bike lanes on the list of improvements, though. This whole “street fee” debacle should have been a gas tax in the first place. Glad to see Novick is finally realizing this.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I would rather have 100 miles of continuous bike lanes than 1 mile of disconnected experimental bikeway. Will protected bikeways give bikes priority, or be designed simply to get bikes out of the way? Our car-centric approach to building “protected” bike infrastructure breaks down at every intersection, and we have really short blocks. I don’t think we stand a chance of getting 8-80 design right until we can get to 10% mode share (citywide, all trips, not just eastside commutes), which should be possible with diverters, signs, and paint.

bdlandoe
Subscriber
bdlandoe

I’d guess that they assume a 4-year tax is easier for voters to accept than a permanent one. And when it comes up for renewal, it’s easier to extend an existing tax (like the most recent parks bond), than a new one. My hunch is this is all about the politics.

lop
Guest
lop

As someone who’s gotten lost more times than I care to admit getting from SE woodward to the 205 path, just about everywhere I go east of 205, N wabash to st johns the other day…bring on the low cost infrastructure. Some more sharrows and way finding signs on quiet streets would be much appreciated. And at $2.2 million for neighborhood greenways you have enough for some traffic lights where you need them to cross arterials too. A path on division could be nice. But it would be pricey, both in dollars and political capital. The design and outreach would probably run more than 2.2 million for the first mile. And it won’t help me when I don’t want to deal with the noise of riding next to heavy traffic.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

It seems more fair than the ridiculous street fee, but I don’t see this passing either.

Mark
Guest
Mark

The reality is, even something as a small as a prius, does far more damage than it pays for. I love the prius, and I love my little accord..both very light weight.

Now..look around..what do you see? SUV’s..and even my ancient astro van at 5,000lbs… 5 cents isn’t going to cut it. What cuts it is a complete redo of the street with a real base of 12 to 24 inches. That isn’t going to happen and the roads are going to crumble.

There is no leadership here..just lipstick on a pig. Either get the heavy vehicles don’t to a slow speed-and by heavy that means everything over 5,000lbs including my astro van..or beef up the streets…or something in between.

This is of course, one of the third rails…the sacred cows…the automobile.

Portland could start solving their problem by drastically reducing speeds, cutting lanes and installing speed bumps. Start aggressively enforcing speed laws…..

But…they won’t.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

I wish they would address vehicle size ,too- maybe increase registration fees that are pro-rated by weight? And DEQ fees pro-rated by fuel efficiency?
On friday I saw/heard a Suburban driving around with studded tires! Wouldn’t it be great if Portland became a “studded tire by permit onl;y” zone?( like a snow park or similar, where you need a sticker to use studded tires in City Limits). There could be day passes, week passes, month passes or year passes. Make the stickers the expensive and the penalties punitive!

bdlandoe
Subscriber
bdlandoe

One of the issues that City Club report addressed was which vehicles/factors do the most damage. In this order:

1) Water
2) Heavy Trucks
3) Trimet buses
4) Studded tires
5) Cars

Passenger cars actually do very little damage compared to the factors ahead of them. It really is water, trucks, and buses. We considered a weight/based vehicle registration fee, but the problem with that is businesses could then just register their heavy trucks out of the city and avoid it. Ideally, we’d have higher statewide registration fees on heavy trucks that go towards cities and counties to pay for road damage.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

It’s hilarious when drivers bring up a fee for cyclists, to make things ‘fair’, when a car does 50000x as much road damage as a bike.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

And people often forget that heavier vehicles generally get poorer fuel economy, so buy more gas and pay more taxes. The exemption from diesel is a clear bow to the freight industry.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

What about clean diesel, like Volkswagens?

Too soon?

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

All the heavy trucks are supposedly paying their fuel tax through the state’s weight/mile program (unless they are cheating the voluntary compliance system in place) and none of these trucks actually pay any gas tax when they fill up their tank at the pump – they use gas-tax free commercial fueling stations and pay later, at the end of the year. The city’s new tax will not capture any of these commercial fuel users on the state’s weight / mile system. So, the heaviest users will not pay any part of this new tax.

soren
Subscriber

If you’re keeping track that adds up to $32.5 million for paving projects and about $25.5 million for biking, walking, and safety projects.

So instead of the 50% originally proposed for safety we get a 43%?

Zero vision.

I vehemently oppose this funding split and am very disappointed that the BTA and Sadowsky are supporting this.

Adam
Subscriber

At over $1M per lane-mile too! What a waste of money. People are dying on our streets, our city’s leadership wants to spend $32M making it easier to drive?

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

I think this is a very valid critique, to which I have two general responses:

1) I feel that the maintenance/safety split is a false choice. Most paving projects can include re-striping to widen bike lanes and address other safety issues. Plus, smooth pavement means a safer ride for bikes as well as cars. Safety improvement can be included in and be part of any maintenance project. The recent paving project on N. Denver is a great example.

2) The nature of our road maintenance liability means that the cost to repair roads grows exponentially. Frankly, that means the more we neglect paving now, the less money we’ll have for safety in the future as the maintenance need swells. The worse the roads get, the more expensive they will be to fix, and the stronger the call will be to divert *more* funds towards paving.

This is not to say that maintenance should be a priority over safety–personally, I’m fully in the camp that safety, not convenience, should be the primary function of a transportation network. But I do acknowledge that the budget math is more complicated than just maintenance vs. safety, since funding allocation needs to consider the growing cost of the paving deficit. There is a balance between the present cost of safety improvements vs. future cost of maintenance that has to be struck.

Adam
Subscriber

The qualifier here is calling for paving on “busy” streets. I’m assuming “busy” refers to arterials – most of which completely lack bicycle facilities. If there was a requirement that all repaving projects must improve or add bicycle facilities (i.e. no repaving unless the roads gets a diet), then this would be an acceptable plan. Plus, less lane miles for cars means less maintenance long-term.

soren
Subscriber

“Most paving projects can include re-striping to widen bike lanes and address other safety issues.”

Several years ago the Portland Business Alliance and the Oregonian demanded that the majority of new transportation funds be spent on street paving. The targeting of $30.2 million to “busy streets” indicates to me that Novick has capitulated and that this funding category will overwhelmingly target drivers. Moreover, the assertion that some maintenance money will be spent on bike facilities is based on nothing more than wishful thinking. There is no requirement that a single penny will be spent on new bike/ped infrastructure. This new funding mix represents a huge walk back on funding allocated to active transport. Active transport is getting the shaft, again. (The Hales administration gutted active transport funding as one of it’s very first actions.)

“Plus, smooth pavement means a safer ride for bikes as well as cars.”

New bike facilities, improved connections, and greenway traffic calming are all somewhat important but smooth blacktop is essential to increasing cycling mode share! In fact, this is why paving arterial streets is a top priority for both BikeLoudPDX and the BTA!

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

I don’t see any capitulation in targeting busy-streets for paving–the busy streets carry the most traffic, mainly heavy trucks, which do the most damage. The spending on busy-streets is simply allocating paving budget to the streets that need it the most. In general, residential streets don’t receive heavy truck or bus traffic, and are in better condition.

I don’t disagree with anything else you said. My comment was simply noting that the percentage breakdown of maintenance vs. safety spending is a poor indicator of the potential safety benefits.

Nonetheless, this is all the more reason to continue pressing PBOT for safety improvements, because these breakdowns are so fungible.

soren
Subscriber

Repaving Portland’s arterial streets is not a priority for me as a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian. I agree that freight causes the most damage and would enthusiastically support a tax that targets commercial vehicles.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

most of the stuff you buy arrives by truck – and the cost of the stuff you buy includes the cost to bring it to a convenient place for you. You might want to broaden your view a bit.

soren
Guest
soren

1. NE Alberta, SW Main, SE Woodstock, NE Halsey etc are not major shipping routes.

2. As far as I can tell, no one has shown that these paving projects will significantly decrease shipping costs. Moreover, I doubt that trucking companies will lower their shipping charges due to smoother blacktop on a few Portland streets.

soren
Subscriber

Brian, I noticed that you are Vice Chair of the Street Fee Report that Jonathan linked to above. IMO, the City Club often takes a pro-business view when it comes to civic issues. The City Club’s position on mountain biking in forest park was also quite unpopular here. I’d be interested in hearing more about any discussions you might have had with members of the Portland Business Alliance on this proposal!

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

Soren, I would be more than happy to talk more about our process! As someone who rides frequently, I’m deeply appreciative of BikeLoud PDX’s advocacy work. It would be great to connect with you.

Regarding City Club, I can say that we spent seven months meeting with representatives from every stakeholder who would spend time with us, including PBOT, Oregon Walks, OPAL, APANO, the Oregon Fuels Association, and the PBA. We took exhaustive efforts to ensure every perspective was considered, and I strongly believe we produced a report that reflects this effort.

soren
Subscriber

I agree with the need for more funding but the decrease in funding for safety is a compromise I’m not willing to accept (at this time). I also feel like I’m missing something. Why did safety funding drop from ~50% to 43%? Is this what it took to get PBA to not oppose the tax? If so, then the City and other stakeholders are more likely to get my support by being up front about it.

PS: My comments here are my own and are not in any way the position of BikeLoudPDX.

bdlandoe
Subscriber
bdlandoe

If I remember correctly, the proposed split, which was negotiated in agreement with low-income and safety working groups, along with the business community, was 55% for maintenance, and 45% for safety. So this current rough estimate of 43% on safety isn’t all that different.

Also, I don’t read this list of projects as how the gas tax revenue will be *legally* required to be spent. I think this is just an example of how they’d use it. Once the tax is passed, and revenue starts coming in, decisions on how to spend it will be made just as current discretionary funds.

soren
Guest
soren

From the Our Streets Maintenance and Safety Fee Handout

Safety: 44% (total)
Pavement Maintenance: 42.4%
Operations: 15%
Bridges: 5%

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Considering this 10 cent a gallon tax proposal, people will wonder, if it’s enacted, how well spent their money will be. May be more persuasive to consider having the ‘to do’ list be far simpler than one posted above in this story: repaving and pothole repair only for the four year tax period.

Keep it simple. No special projects on which costs might somehow be hard to contain, or keep track of. And maybe consider a five cent tax rather than a ten cent tax. If all goes well…possibly offer a new ‘to do’ list for the next four years, and an increase in the tax amount.

Jeff Bernards
Guest
Jeff Bernards

Don’t forget your food comes down that road, for now the road is VERY important.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I support a 10-cent increase. Now if we can just do this 30 or 40 more times…

Adam
Subscriber

Should be at least $1 per gallon, although that is not likely to pass a vote.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

So just raise it 10-cents a year in perpetuity.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I’m sorry, but I think Novick is just as shady as Hales.
Please vote them both out.

They wouldn’t even talk about a gas tax increase last year and now they’re both touting it. (At least now they’re admitting that sending it to the voters is important)

9watts
Subscriber

It is actually worse than that. I spent some time when this came up the last time, digging through the survey results and internal power points on the early phases of the Street Fee debacle. Novick at the time was saying that the residents of Portland had voted down a gas tax, that his preferred options had greater voter support. This was a mendacious claim. There was no evidence in any of the surveys that this was true then. I’m glad to see him coming clean (and with a new survey – whoopee!)

Mark
Guest
Mark

I am starting to agree that a street fee was more equitable. Everyone drives, walks or bikes..or something in between. The residents of Portland in general enjoy the streets..and they want them fixed. Nobody counted on the freeloader mentality.

A gas tax is an invisible tax so people don’t mind as much.

9watts
Subscriber

“I am starting to agree that a street fee was more equitable. Everyone drives, walks or bikes..or something in between.”

Were you around for the back and forth her last year about the Street Fee? As someone who was very vocally opposed to it I’ll say that it was never my contention that those who walk or bike on the streets weren’t the beneficiaries of our streets, our infrastructure. However…. the wear and the tear is *all* due to motor vehicles. Thus the preponderance of the cost should I think fall to those who habitually wear out our streets with their vehicles. A gas tax is not only a perfect way to attempt this—if it were actually a real one like $1 or $3 instead of two aluminum cans’ worth that people hardly even bother to pick up and take back to the store anymore—it would also discourage the activity that is associated not just with wearing out our streets but a dozen or more other deleterious effects.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

It won’t work unless it goes state wide, and is matched in SW Washington. this would be a boon for gas stations in Milwaukie, Gresham or Vancouver, WA.
Novick is to be commended on thinking right, He is just not thinking big

dan
Guest
dan

You think? It’s about $1.50 more if you were filling a 15 gallon tank. People from Gresham might make an effort to fill up there, but I’d be surprised if Portland residents change their behavior for that amount of money.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

If it works in Portland, surrounding areas may follow suit. They will also be desperate for funds as the state gets less and less from the feds and the buying power of the existing gas tax continues to drop. Also, gas in Washington State is already taxed at a higher level. Just go to the Costco on Airport Way and look at the license plates of the cars waiting for gas.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Washington’s gas tax is 37.5 cents per gallon; Oregon’s is 30 cents. Multnomah County collects 3 cents per gallon. So in Portland today there’s a 4.5 cent per gallon discount relative to Vancouver. I don’t think we need concern ourselves with SW Washington. Gresham is still in Multnomah County, so there would be some loss there. Milwaukie, Happy Valley and other locations in Clackamas County would be a concern.

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

Twenty other cities have a gas a tax in Oregon. Not much evidence that people travel between cities for lower gas prices, especially when it’s just a few cents per gallon.

davemess
Guest
davemess

this is a complete red herring.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Yeah cause saving a dollar or two on fill up would justify a trip to the Couve or Clackamas (and I live off SE Division – so at best the better part of an hour for me) to fill up.

But then again there are also people like me who use 4-20 gallons a day at work (welding machine and fuel for heavy equipment) all over the metro area for our jobs, and pretty much fill up everyday after work at one of three gas stations closest to my house. So even though I might be building a building in Hillsboro, I’m buying the preponderance of the fuel for that job in Portland. And since it’s a company card and a write off for the boss, even my boss doesn’t really care.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Granpa,
I disagree. Usually, usually, when taxes are increased the commodity price does not increase by the same amount. Many retailers, competing for your dollars, absorb part of the increase, so a gallon of gas might only go up $.07 or $.08. And if the wholesale price drops, you may not notice any change at all.

davemess
Guest
davemess

There is actually a big fluctuation in gas prices in the city of Portland. A quick check of gas buddy shows a 50 cent swing in just a couple of miles. Yet all these stations stay in business. If people already aren’t traveling a few miles extra to save 30-50 cents, seems doubtful they’re going to go out of the country to save 10 cents.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Sending it to voters is a cop out. Leaders chart out a path and follow that path. If we don’t agree with their path we vote them out. If our leaders only allow us to vote on things that they find poll well they are not leaders, they are followers.

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

Worth noting that, by state law, a gas tax can only be enacted by popular vote.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Provide a citation or legal reference for this claim, please.

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2009/08/oregon_cities_rush_to_impose_l.html

“The legislation imposed a five-year moratorium on local gas taxes, effective Sept. 28. After 2014, local governments will have to seek voter approval for any new or increased local gas taxes.”

George H.
Guest
George H.

Any tax must be put before city voters. Vote no on a gas tax.

PBOT *just* hired an “equity and inclusion” person, paying them a $100k salary, when the city has an entire Office Of Equity And Inclusion, whose job is to provide bureaus with that expertise. How many flashing crosswalks were nixed to hire a non-necessary position?

Pass a gas tax and PBOT will waste most of it on administration and feel-good stuff. Reform the system first.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Ok..but that’s a separate issue. Do they do things you don’t agree with? Ok..then do something about it. Do you think that magically they could come up with the millions for streets by just spending the way you want?

Nope.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Yes, as I show below. The City wastes tons of money and displays it’s fiscal ineptitude year-after-year.

This year, the City increase homelessness spending and affordable housing by $6 million, an amount just less than the total amount spent on street safety improvements and 75% of annual paving expenditures.

Now, I am for spending on the homeless and affordable housing; BUT, the City is continuing the status quo. Ironically, what’s the hot-button housing right now – affordable housing. But, why not throw even more money at the same programs that have contributed to the current problem, right? Sheesh.

$100 million per year on homelessness and affordable housing and neither is improving in Portland, is it?

Add that to the millions wasted on expensive consultants that provide the same “solutions” that City employee come up with, but provide cover for Portland’s elected and appointed officials.

Huge sums of money spent on non-priority diversity and equity offices and personnel; almost a million dollars in upping some employees to $15 per hour (without a legit economic reason for doing so); et cetera, et cetera, et cetera….

Yeah, much of this money would magically appear if the City’s elected and appointed officials did their jobs.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

George,

A two lane crossing, one crosswalk, not two, requires two RRFB at $12k each, or $24,000. A 5-lane crossing, one crosswalk, requires 3 RRFB and a pedestrian refuge for best practice safety, so $36,000 and $15,000 for the island, or $50,000.
To answer your question, two crosswalks on a road like Burnside or Powell, or four crosswalks on a road like 33rd, or Milwaukie.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Yes! This $58.1M plan could clearly cost only $58M. Not being sarcastic at all (can’t speak for the math.)

If a gas tax cuts VMT by 1%, we would save $300k on paving. Or we could all just drive 1/4mile less every day? (If we’re only looking to save $100k, we only need to cut 500ft per capita per day.)

J_R
Guest
J_R

I’ll definitely vote for it at 10 cents per gallon and would support more especially statewide or nationally. I think 10 cents is too much to garner a majority vote. If I were a commissioner, I’d be advocating a vote on a tax in the 3 to 5 cent range as a “foot in the door.” I think Eugene’s tax at 5 cents per gallon is currently the highest levied by an Oregon city.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala
cooper
Guest
cooper

Ah yes, Novick… leading from behind.

JF
Guest
JF

Good luck with this. I support it, but good luck. Don’t see it happening.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

Why is there little to no discussion of parking fees to raise revenue? What studies exist that show the percentage of single occupancy vehicle drivers? The ubiquitous SOV’s in this town indicate driving is too cheap.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Uh, the city has been having a pretty big discussion about permit parking in certain areas of the east side. I know that’s probably not exactly what you mean, but there is discussion of parking fees in that capacity.

9watts
Subscriber

I think Phil’s right though that when Novick trots out the gas tax that it would make a certain amount of sense to at least mention the parallel efforts underway. Perhaps he did that but the article didn’t communicate that.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Phil,
The word from PBOT, current and past directors, is that the problem is the approval mechanism. Currently, City Council decides on when to raise the parking costs, often after a committee has reviewed the nation for comparable pricing.
If authority was devolved to PBOT, price could be adjusted not only more frequently, but dynamically based on demand, as some cities already do.
The current discussion is about parking permit pricing, not the meter rates.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Tigard had or has a 10 cent tax but everyone forgot about it. All it did was increase the size of the area their police cars patrol (out to Hillsboro).

J_R
Guest
J_R

No. Tigard’s tax is 3 cents per gallon.

Here’s the list from the state’s website:

Washington County $0.01
Multnomah County $0.03

City of Woodburn $0.01
City of Eugene $0.05
City of Springfield $0.03
City of Cottage Grove $0.03
City of Veneta $0.03
City of Tigard $0.03
City of Milwaukie $0.02
City of Coquille $0.03
City of Coburg $0.03
City of Astoria $0.03
City of Warrenton $0.03
City of Canby $0.03
City of Newport (Nov – May) $0.01
City of Newport (Jun – Oct) $0.03
City of Hood River $0.03
City of Tillamook $0.015
City of The Dalles $0.03
City of Stanfield $0.01
City of Sandy $0.01
City of Oakridge $0.03
City of Dundee $0.02
City of Sisters $0.03
City of Pendleton $0.04

Dan
Subscriber

I would like to see the tax assessed as a percentage of the amount spent, rather than as “x cents per gallon”. This would help keep pace with inflation over time.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

That is a flawed approach because tax revenue would fluctuate wildly (following gas prices). The best way would be to make it permanent and then index it to inflation (increase at about 3% per year, every year).

Spiffy
Subscriber

“paving projects” seems like a cheap solution… that’s not repaving the road, that’s throwing 3″-4″ of new pavement on top of a deteriorating road…

they keep piling more and more pavement on top of the old crumbling pavement… when I step off the curb at my GF’s house I step UP to the road… the curbs were originally 8″ high and are now barely 2″ with the center of the narrow roadway (2 parking lanes, 1 travel lane) about 8″ higher than the surrounding curbs…

they’ve been cheap by paving over the old without tearing out the bad road first… those old defects they’re covering will come back just the same…

try riding a trike around residential areas and you’re either leaning a lot for fear of tipping over or you’re riding in the center of the street…

I know the roads are supposed to have a slight crown, but it’s become ridiculous…

bdlandoe
Subscriber
bdlandoe

I’ve never heard this claim before. Is there documentation to back this up? My understanding is they grind down 1″, 2″, 3″, etc. depending on the condition of the road, remove that deteriorated layer, then repave.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

I believe the grindings are also recycled.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

Where do we sign up to phone bank for this?

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

I’m seeing a surprising amount of push-back and skepticism in these comments. A gas-tax is almost certainly the most politically doable, and technically feasible revenue mechanism available to the city. It will bring millions in safety improvements that would not happen otherwise, while also maintaining the city’s paved assets.

The city has tried and failed for 20 years to raise money for streets, and we’re finally at a point to bring in new revenue—revenue which the state constitution mandates must be spent on streets. I see little prudence in derailing this momentum over imprecise maintenance/safety percentages.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Brian, welcome to BP.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

I support this gas-tax, even if it is only for the city. But, the city needs to fix the loop-hole for the heavy haul trucking and figure out how to get the gas tax money from all of the commercial trucking, for this to be fair. Currently, heavy trucking is rampant on many city streets that are not state highways: Going, Interstate, Columbia, Holgate, SE 26th, etc. City needs to also collect these tax dollars from the users who do the most damage.

soren
Subscriber

“imprecise maintenance/safety percentages”

asking for a greater emphasis on safety is not “derailing”. i fail to see why you are framing this as a “take it, or leave it” deal.

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

You’re right, derailing was not the appropriate word. I just feel that the maintenance/safety split is too imprecise of a metric to base serous objections on.

Brian Landoe
Guest
Brian Landoe

And honestly, while I don’t view this as take it or leave it, I do believe that there are very few political windows that facilitate something like this being passed. As evidenced by half a dozen failed efforts over the last 20 years. We’re at a moment when there is support on City Council, the BTA has endorsed the plan, and the BPA is unlikely to campaign against it (which, like it or not, means a lot in this town). It’s not “take it or leave it,” it’s more capitalizing on a rare opportunity.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

An opportunity to fleece motorists and cover the City’s inability to properly identify and fund it’s real priorities.

J_R
Guest
J_R

No. Tigard’s tax is 3 cents per gallon.

Here’s the list from the state’s website:

Washington County $0.01
Multnomah County $0.03

City of Woodburn $0.01
City of Eugene $0.05
City of Springfield $0.03
City of Cottage Grove $0.03
City of Veneta $0.03
City of Tigard $0.03
City of Milwaukie $0.02
City of Coquille $0.03
City of Coburg $0.03
City of Astoria $0.03
City of Warrenton $0.03
City of Canby $0.03
City of Newport (Nov – May) $0.01
City of Newport (Jun – Oct) $0.03
City of Hood River $0.03
City of Tillamook $0.015
City of The Dalles $0.03
City of Stanfield $0.01
City of Sandy $0.01
City of Oakridge $0.03
City of Dundee $0.02
City of Sisters $0.03
City of Pendleton $0.04

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I wonder how many of those were passed with a popular vote…

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

All of them?? (since it is a requirement of the law).

Joseph E
Guest

I’m glad this is finally going forward. $0.10 a gallon is a small increase, but it is a good start. The city needs more dedicated funding for street safety improvements and repaving.

But I’m surprised they are putting it on the primary election ballot. In many cities, the primary electorate is older and more conservative than in the general election, especially if there isn’t a competitive presidential primary on the Democrat side. I hope this isn’t a mistake. It would be worth waiting till November 2016 for the vote, when many more people will turn out to vote.

davemess
Guest
davemess

The primary ballot also has a lot less turnout, so if you can motivate people to vote (and vote for your measure) you might have an easier go at it.

Adam
Subscriber

It’s on the primary? I’m registered as “unaffiliated”, so I don’t get a primary ballot. How is this fair?

davemess
Guest
davemess

You do get one. This isn’t the party primary he’s talking about, just the spring ballot. Just different terminology.
Most city elections seem to be on this spring ballot.

mh
Guest
mh

Weight*miles fee, charged initially on estimate, reconciled at DEQ when some of us have to re-register. Those few whose gas burners are too old to have to go through DEQ would have to go to have their odometers read.

Seems perfect to me, and no one seems to agree. I am willing to pay it on each of my vehicles, if they provide a way to count the bike miles.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Trucks already do this. How is it administered?

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

I like a gas tax much more than the previous idea. My biggest issue with the street fee and creating new taxes is a completely new system to collect the money has to be created. The gas tax already has a collection process in place.

A good example is the Arts Tax. The amount of money needed to administer the tax is rediculous.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Amen.

BJCefola
Subscriber

The funding deficit the city faces with infrastructure is big enough that no one measure will fix it. The gas tax is a place to start, and as such there’s a lot to like about it. It requires no new admin and it taxes something that I think brings to the city a lot of negative externalities (driving).

Kudos to everyone pushing for it.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Because there is not millions of wasted dollars in the City’s budget that could be better allocated to fund road maintenance and even bike infrastructure, right?

I mean, the dollars wasted to care for illegal immigrants who make their way to this illegal Sanctuary City. The multiple offices of diversity and inclusion. The millions blown on expensive consultants who pitch the same ideas that City employees do, but, because they’re from consultants, the City’s elected and appointed officials can duck responsibility for. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Before any of this nonsense moves forward, residents ought to be have a very bright light shown on the City’s budget and, no, the nonsensical budget that the City publishes each year that hides consultancy fees behind layers of expenditures with nonsensical titles attached to them.

Just say no to this money grab and compel the City to identify and prioritize it’s responsibilities and then fund them properly.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

More from these incompetent leaders – https://www.portlandoregon.gov/mayor/article/529219:

“In 2013-14, Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick have highlighted the need to address the estimated $90 million per year backlog of maintenance on city streets.

“Portlanders asked us to focus on fixing our streets. I listened. This budget does that,” Hales said. “This won’t solve the city’s whole street problem. But it shows we’re serious.””

Uh, no. First, they are elected to make prudent governing decisions, not listen to the most vocal people appealing to City Hall. So, forgive me, but you lose points every time you say you listened to the people and did x precisely because there’s no monolithic bloc out there calling for x, anyway.

Second, highlighting a need to get through a backlog of maintenance is not doing something, it’s merely saying something.

Check this out:
“His budget includes $8.89 million for paving; $6.89 million for street safety improvements; $1.5 million for the “Out of the Mud” program to pave dirt streets for the first time”

Cool, but then we see:
“Hales’ other major investment in basic services is $5.97 million to address homelessness and affordable-housing programs. That is atop the $90 million already in the city budget for housing from all sources, for a total of almost $100 million.”

Whoa. So an increase of $6 million which is nearly as much as total spending on street safety improvements and 75% of total spending on paving.

Priorities, people. This is very simple. We can continue to incentivize people to come here (illegally in many cases) so the City can spend tens of millions supporting them year-over-year. Meanwhile, we have a backlog of street maintenance of nearly $100 million.

Yeah, the priority is so hard to discern here.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

This debate should really be about:

1) Fiscal responsibility;
2) Effective governance; and
3) Budget priorities

Notice that the gas tax ain’t even part of the discussion, yet?

Because you shouldn’t even get to a new tax levy without first concluding that the City is exercising proper fiscal responsibility – it is not; demonstrating effective governance of current organizations and personnel – it is not; and establishing budget priorities and funding them as such – it is not.

I am surprised by the blind support for a new tax levy without considering how poorly the City is currently managing it’s finite financial resources. The argument that, well, it’s just a dime per gallon, is really a cop-out. If that’s a rational basis, then why not start enacting all kinds of nickel and dime taxes?

Look, the City is fundamentally failing it’s fiduciary responsibilities when it seeks to increase spending on the homeless and affordable housing (funding the same programs that have produced today’s problems) in an amount nearly equal to total annual spending on street safety improvement and 75% of total annual paving while telling us that they listened to resident’s demands for more transportation funding.

If you don’t see the obvious contradiction there, then think harder and look closer.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Here’s fiscal responsibility:

Let’s tax gas to the point that people stop wasting oil. Gasoline is cheap enough now that people just sit in their cars burning it up while they play on their phones and wait in line for fast food.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala
Jeff Bernards
Guest
Jeff Bernards

Don’t forget your food comes down that road, for now the road is VERY important.

soren
Subscriber

I’ve lived in nations where most roads are either unpaved or in very poor condition and this in no way prevented trucking of food. The primary motivation for smooth roads is the convenience of low-occupancy vehicle drivers.

Jeff Bernards
Guest
Jeff Bernards

You want dirt roads? Start wearing your dust mask

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

I’m disappointed. Too high initially especially compared to other areas.
Electric vehicles get off free. So do all the WASH drivers who come down Sandy Blvd each morning & night & cut through my neighborhood.
I already got screwed with the Sellwood bridge having to pay for it when I never use it but all the commuters from LO etc don’t.

bdlandoe
Subscriber
bdlandoe

Could not agree more. The benefit of the gas tax is at least *some* revenue will be captured for out of state/city drivers.

The City Club report, and Novick, have endorsed a commuter payroll tax. Something like $2/month for people who work but don’t live in Portland.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Electric cars have no emissions. Hybrids might pay half as much, maybe biofuels will get a break? A gas tax isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s a really good and easy place to start and it discourages burning fossil fuels, which is something else we need to work toward. If gas tax revenues don’t keep up because everyone switches off of fossil fuels, we could address that wonderful problem with a weight-miles tax at registration and may find other states on a similar path by that time. Commuter payroll tax sounds like an easy next step (I would say $100/mo, discounted by $5 every day you don’t drive.) A congestion fee seems like it would take quite a bit more effort, or maybe a carpool lane on the bridges and only collect a toll in the SOV lane at peak times.

9watts
Subscriber

“Electric cars have no emissions.”

Au contraire!
Were it but so…
Electric cars, by some accounts, have comparable life cycle emissions to gas or diesel powered cars. The gist is that most of the emissions happen somewhere else, where we can’t smell them or choke on them. This is a start:
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/unclean-at-any-speed

soren
Guest
soren

You are citing an opinion piece from a long-term opponent of electric vehicles who blatantly misrepresents (e.g. lies about) published studies.

The latest life cycle analysis from the Union for Concerned Scientists finds that electric vehicles charged with renewable energy can achieve thousands of mpg (not a typo).

http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/emissions-and-charging-costs-electric-cars#.VhQZgtsVhBc

9watts
Subscriber

I am well aware that you don’t like Zehner’s piece. And there were plenty of others whose feathers he ruffled. But as a feather ruffler yourself I’d have thought you’d appreciate his take more than you seem to. When you say he lies about published studies I’m curious if you could support that statement. It seems kind of unlikely that the IEEE folks would be so easily duped by this guy.

But speaking of misrepresenting… the study you linked to, in the summary I have so far read, the mpg figures listed for EVs range from better than 31 – better than 50. That is a far cry from 1,000s of mpg.

From the Executive Summary:
“Nearly half (45 percent) of Americans live in BEST regions—where an EV has lower global warming emissions than a 50 mpg gasoline-powered vehicle”

If it were thousands of mpg wouldn’t you think they’d mention it in the Exec. Summary?

soren
Guest
soren

From the full report: Chapter 1 – Table 1.1. WELL-TO-WHEELS EV MILES PER GALLON EQUIVALENT (MPGghg) BY ELEC TRICITY SOURCE

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

Zehner uses an unpublished quotation to falsely assert that a study reported that the CO2e of EVs is worse than that of ICEVs. In fact, the cited study found that (even with the coal/oil-centric power mix used as a reference at the time) EVs have a lower CO2e than ICEVs.

9watts
Subscriber

Aha. Here it is:
When charging an EV from resources such as wind or solar, the mpg equivalent is in the hundreds (or thousands) because these resources produce very little global warming emissions when generating electricity.

They are not sure of the order of magnitude, ‘very little‘, = not impressed. I think I know why this didn’t make it into the Executive Summary. It is silly, hand waving, and they know it. To treat renewables as having essentially zero GHG emissions is, on its face, absurd. The rare metals, the copper, the steel, the concrete, the transmission wires… all of this takes massive resources that must be amortized over the lifetime of the components and then prorated over the kWh delivered. For enthusiasts (yes, UCS) to wave their hands at this is why it is important to have someone like Zehner call them out.

soren
Subscriber

That was actually a wheels-to-wells estimate so it includes grid and vehicle manufacture C02e estimates.

Table 1.1. WELL-TO-WHEELS EV MILES PER GALLON EQUIVALENT (MPGghg) BY ELECTRICITY SOURCE

Solar 500
Nuclear 2,000
Wind 3,900
Hydro 5,800
Geothermal 7,600

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

A lightweight, low-power electric bike gets 1000mpgE. Does this mean it gets 500,000 mpgE if I charge it with solar power? The numbers for geothermal are highly suspect, where the nuclear and hydro numbers underscore the point that not everything is about greenhouse gas.

Sustainability is a question of “what if everybody did it this way?”. Reclaimed fryer oil biodiesel doesn’t scale to meet the current demand for moving cars, but neither does lithium-ion. I could charge my electric bike straight off of a 2x4ft solar panel and easily get enough juice on a cloudy day. A vehicle 10x the weight would need 80sq.ft, with 10x the power/weight ratio, 800sq.ft? Depends on how you drive it.

soren
Subscriber

Despite media chatter from climate change deniers there is no shortage of lithium. And, yes, if one charges with renewables, it’s quite possible that an e-bike gets hundreds of thousands of mpg(equiv).

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I agree that we shouldn’t overlook the manufacture and charging emissions in the bigger picture. In the context of a local tax, the local emissions matters most, so it is at least somewhat fair — that’s the main point I was trying to get at. In the mid-near term, biodiesel from used organic locally grown non-GMO oil makes a lot of sense for long-distance, high-speed personal transportation.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Why doesn’t every city enact a “commuter tax”? I see plenty of folks going the opposite direction in the morning, from Portland to Beaverton. Better yet, why don’t we just have a regional “employment tax”? Everyone who has a job anywhere in tri-counties just pays it, then we divide up the revenue by some algorithm and distribute it to each city?

We could also have a visitor tax for people who don’t live in Portland but frequently visit there for cultural events or dining.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Horrible. It’s similar to the non-resident income tax regime that the City of Detroit and many large employers ultimately left town, in part, to help their employees avoid this unnecessary fee for working in the city.

I bike into downtown from Beaverton, why am I paying a commuter tax? It doesn’t matter that the cost would be a nominal one. It’s the principle that I am being taxed more while the City actively incentivizes illegal immigration and homelessness while wasting millions of expensive and unnecessary consultants and duplicative inclusivity and equity “officers”.

No. Until the City’s elected and appointed officials start doing their jobs by identifying spending priorities and then prioritizing spending accordingly, we need not be bullied and guilted into new taxes.

If road funding is a first-line priority then treat it as such. Increasing status quo affordable housing spending by an amount equal to annual street safety improvements is not treating road funding as a priority. It is an example of de-prioritizing it.

davemess
Guest
davemess

To be fair most of those Washington drivers (who most likely work in Portland) pay a pretty substantial income tax to this state.

Mark
Guest
Mark

The real solution is a nationwide tire tax. Everyone needs tires regardless of propulsion type. The used tire market would be worth more and it would be easy to tax by mile as every tire has a life expectancy. That would be too simple.

F350 tax: , $ 5000
Prius tax: $1,000
Motorcycles: $500

9watts
Subscriber

Why tires? The Danes have what may (to us) seem like astronomical taxes on cars. >100% if I’m not mistaken:
https://www.cfe-eutax.org/taxation/road-tax/denmark
And their modal split and general approach to transportation infrastructure is nothing to sniff at.

Mark
Guest
Mark

9watts
Why tires? The Danes have what may (to us) seem like astronomical taxes on cars. >100% if I’m not mistaken: https://www.cfe-eutax.org/taxation/road-tax/denmark And their modal split and general approach to transportation infrastructure is nothing to sniff at.Recommended 0

Because there is no way to avoid tires like one can for fuel. People are using electric cars, they are making their own biodiesel…etc to avoid tax. Sure, they don’t come out and say it…but they know it and smile inside.

Plus, it would have a positive effect on used tires. Now, only truly bald tires would go to the land fill. Heck, maybe even retreads might come back.

Tires are the direct damaging instrument to the roads.

Oh, tax studded tires at double the normal tax rate.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

More retreads and bald tires seems like a bad idea.