1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204
An encroachment is a privately owned structure or infrastructure that is placed within the public right-of-way. Some examples of encroachments are benches, retaining walls, planter boxes, underground shoring, or stairs and handrails when located in the public right-of-way.
Most areas that are not private property, or owned by other government agencies such as the Oregon Department of Transportation, are part of the public right-of-way. This is where streets and sidewalks are located and often includes a buffer area located between the property line and the back of the sidewalk. The public right-of-way is also the area where most public utilities, such as electrical lines and water lines, are located. The right-of-way is not always improved to current standards with sidewalks or streets and may look no different than the adjacent private property. The right-of-way includes the surface at ground level, such as the sidewalk or landscaped areas, as well as those areas that are located below and above ground level.
Most encroachments are only allowed to be placed by, or for, a property owner and only next to the property that they own. Some types of encroachments are only allowed when placed by a neighborhood organization, a business association, or a franchised utility.
Some types of encroachments are allowed outright without the need for a permit. Most types of encroachments require a permit, known as a revocable encroachment permit. Before a revocable encroachment permit can be issued, an application must be submitted for review and approval.
For more details, please review the City of Portland’s policy on Encroachments in the Public Right-of-Way. This policy covers many of the most common types of encroachments and explains when they require a permit and when they don’t, as well as other conditions and restrictions that may apply.
Encroachments that are not allowed by the Encroachments in the Public Right-of-Way policy or current City code may still be permitted but will require an appeal to, and approval from, the Encroachment Appeal Committee.
There is another class of encroachment known as “Major Encroachments" these types of encroachments require approval by City Council and the review process varies form that described on this page.
A revocable encroachment permit allows the placement of privately owned structures or infrastructure within the public right-of-way. In addition to allowing placement of an encroachment, the permit also assigns responsibility for the encroachment (liability, maintenance, etc.) and sets conditions, such as joining Oregon One-Call or having liability insurance on file with the City, which may be required to allow the encroachment.
A revocable encroachment permit is revocable. This means that the City may at any time, at its own discretion, revoke the permit and require removal of all permitted encroachments.
In a few cases, such as permits for public benches and cross-street banners, the revocable encroachment permit is free. But these are the exception and most revocable encroachment permits have a cost. This allows the City to recover the cost of reviewing and writing the Encroachment permit. Fees are only assessed if a permit is issued; there is no fee for reviewing your application unless an appeal is required.
Permit Fee The standard permit fee is $459 (July 1st, 2012 - June 30th, 2013)
Recording Fee Some permits must be filed with the County’s property records. The recording fee is $31 for the first page and $5 for each additional page; most permits are two to four pages.
Review Fee Some types of structure or infrastructure, such as tall walls, may require special reviews and/or inspections. The review fee amount varies based on the specific review and/or inspection requirements.
Appeal Fee Encroachments that do not meet the policy, or are not listed in the policy, require approval by the Encroachment Appeal Committee. A non-refundable fee of $200 is required to file the appeal.
“Major Encroachments” require approval by the City Council and will incur significantly greater cost than those listed on this page.
Start by downloading and completing the Revocable Encroachment Permit Application. Follow all of the instructions carefully and submit all required items, such as a site plan and other exhibits detailing the requested encroachment, with your application. Do not submit the permit fee with your application; this will be due at the time of permit issuance. Completed applications can be mailed or hand-delivered to:
City of Portland Bureau of Transportation
1900 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 5000
Portland OR 97201
Hand delivered applications are submitted at the reception desk on the 5th floor.
Applications can also be submitted by email to email@example.com.
After your application is submitted it will be reviewed by City staff to determine if the application is complete and if the proposed encroachment meets the policy. If the application is incomplete or if more information is needed, you will be contacted with a request for the needed changes. If the policy is met and the proposed encroachment is approved, you will be contacted regarding permit issuance and payment of the permit fee as well as any additional reviews that may be required.
If the policy is not met then you may choose to file an appeal. No additional paperwork is required to file an appeal, only payment of the $200 appeal fee. City staff will contact you to discuss why your application did not meet the policy. If you choose to appeal, your appeal will be considered at the next meeting of the Encroachment Advisory Review Committee. The committee meets on the first and third Friday of each month; review of your appeal could be delayed due to the number of appeals being considered and schedule changes.
More details are available by viewing the Encroachment Permit Review Process.
Give us a call at 503-823-7002 and select option 3. Leave a message with your name, telephone number, and the details of your question; we will call you back with the information you need.
You can also email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
View and download a copy of the Encroachment Permit Application in .pdf format
View and download a copy of the Encroachment Permit Policy in .pdf format
View and download a copy of the Encroachment Permit Process in .pdf format