The Portland Bureau of Transportation will no longer charge Portland residents to pick up leaves during Leaf Day, the City's annual fall leaf clean up program.
For decades, the bureau has collected leaves and swept streets in designated Leaf Districts, locations that account for the vast majority of leaves that fall on city streets. In 2010, the bureau started charging a fee for the service to recover the city's costs during the Great Recession.
Dylan Rivera, Spokesperson for PBOT, says the fee they started collecting in 2010 never met its goal of covering city costs of providing the service. In the last five years, leaf fee revenues have covered less than 50% of program costs. Rivera says by ending the fee, they save on administrative overhead and continue to provide this important service to the public, which keeps Portland streets safe for everyone and lowers the chance of street flooding.
Portland's tree canopy covers a significant portion of the city. In autumn, wet fallen leaves can become very slick, creating potential hazards for people walking, biking, rolling or driving through tree-lined neighborhoods. To help address these hazards, city crews have been removing thousands of cubic yards of leaves from Portland streets for more than three decades.
Since 2010, PBOT charged residential customers $15 per leaf removal. Commercial and multi-family properties with over four units were charged $65 per removal.
Starting with this year's Leaf Day, leaf removal will be funded through general transportation dollars, much like other services such as snow and ice removal, pothole repairs and roadside vegetation clean-up.
Besides the end of the leaf fee, the other aspects of Leaf Day will not change. Starting November 9th, PBOT crews will remove leaves in 52 leaf districts across the city. Residents in the leaf districts should move their cars and other obstacles from the street and limb their street trees prior to their Leaf Day service to facilitate a more effective clean-up.
Leaf Day begins on November 9th. You can find the 2018 Leaf Day schedule at portlandoregon.gov/leafday.