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Mayor Charlie Hales

City of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales

Phone: 503-823-4120

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 340, Portland, OR 97204

Transportation Funding: Working to Care for City's Largest Asset

Mayor, Nationwide Coalition of Mayors Call on Congress for Transportation Funding

Tillikum Crossing under constructionWEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2015 — Mayor Charlie Hales today joined a bipartisan coalition of mayors nationwide to call on U.S. Congress to act on transportation funding before the federal transportation authorization bill expires at the end of the month.

Join the action: E-mail your congressmen and raise awareness use the hashtag #RebuildRenew on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to join the conversation about securing increased federal funding for transportation and municipal infrastructure. 

"Today, I stand with mayors nationwide to call on Congress to provide adequate funding for our nation's infrastructure," Mayor Hales said. "Congressman Earl Blumenauer has been a steady partner in calling for proper federal transportation funding, earlier this year advocating for an increase in the federal gas tax. My colleagues across the country are asking their delegations to step up and renew federal funding for transportation."

The nation faces a $160 billion backlog just to bring public transit and road systems into a state of good repair. The lack of a long-term federal funding bill creates local funding uncertainty, which jeopardizes infrastructure project planning and discourages private sector investment. The lack of a commitment on the federal level stifles local business investment and job creation in our city and nationwide.

Federal investment has not kept pace with demand, resulting in an outdated, overburdened surface transportation system that is ill-equipped to handle current, let alone future, needs. Across the United States, our public transit maintenance needs exceed $77 billion, and the nation’s bridge backlog alone is an estimated $121 billion. The Highway Trust Fund, which funds most highway and transit spending, is almost depleted and the federal government is struggling to maintain the status quo, much less make new investments.

In Portland, an auditor report found that it would cost $75 million extra revenue per year for 10 years to bring Portland streets into good repair — and that was two years ago. Now the estimate is closer to $90 million in new revenue per year. Nearly half of our busiest streets are rated in "poor" or "very poor" condition. Last year Mayor Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick increased the city's street paving from about 30 miles per year to more than 100 miles in one year.

"But to tackle the entire city's infrastructure needs, we need the state and federal governments to act," Mayor Hales said.

On Monday, a coalition of 44 Oregon mayors, led by Mayor Hales, stood together to call on the Oregon Legislature to pass a comprehensive transportation funding package this session.

"We need Congress to do its job and pass a long-term transportation bill that increases investments in our transportation infrastructure," Mayor Hales says. 

Charlie Hales Rallies Mayors Statewide to Support Legislature on Transportation Funding

MONDAY, MAY 11, 2015 — When Portland Mayor Charlie Hales met with Gov. Kate Brown shortly after she took office this winter, she asked for his help to support new funding for transportation statewide.

Today, Hales’ office presented legislative leaders with a letter signed by 44 mayors from throughout Oregon supporting additional funding for transportation.

“The state of our roads is increasingly poor,” the letter reads. “From Hillsboro to Hood River, Ashland to Albany, Portland to Port Orford to Pendleton, cities are facing an annual shortfall of over $300 million in their street maintenance budgets.”

The letter urges state lawmakers to pass a comprehensive transportation package during the 2015 legislative session.

The mayor also spent more than a year working to establish a street fund to address the estimated $90 million per year backlog of maintenance and safety issues on Portland’s streets. This winter, he put the city’s street fund proposal on hold to give Speaker of the House Tina Kotek time to craft the statewide transportation package.

Last week, the mayor unveiled his proposed city budget for 2015-16. With an additional $49 million in discretionary funding available, the major has called for more almost $20 million dedicated to streets, including $6.89 million for street safety and $8.89 million for paving.

This weekend, a bicyclist was hit by a pickup truck and critically injured at Southeast 26th Avenue and Powell Boulevard. Powell is a state-owned highway. A rally to encourage ODOT to improve safety conditions is set for 4 to 6 p.m. today, at the intersection.

“This is not just a Portland issue,” Hales said. “This is a priority for small towns, middle-sized communities and cities; for rural, suburban and urban residents; for conservative, moderate and liberal office holders. We are all in this together.”

This is the second time that Hales has gathered a coalition of Oregon mayors for a statewide cause at the Legislature. In 2013, he led more than 50 mayors in a successful effort to increase funding for public K-12 schools.

Idaho Legislature passes gas tax increase; Portland should too

THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2015 — The Idaho Legislature has passed a gas tax increase, with a bipartisan coalition recognizing the tremendous need for funding to maintain roads and bridges. "If Idaho can do it, Oregon certainly should be able to," Mayor Hales said.

Like leaders across the country, Mayor Hales has been grappling with a lack of state and federal funding to maintain the city's largest asset -- its streets. He has asked the Oregon Legislature to index the state gas tax so that it keeps pace with maintenance needs ( Last week the mayor joined leaders across the country in a ‪#‎StandUp4Transportation‬ campaign, calling on Congress to adequately fund transportation.

But Mayor Hales predicts funding street safety and maintenance will fall to the local level: "I wish Congress would do its job. I wish they would pass a transportation reauthorization bill. I wish they would move the gas tax from where it’s been stuck for 21 years at 18 cents. That’s crazy. What did $0.18 buy 21 years ago versus now? Well, not as much asphalt. I can tell you that. So Congress is inert and running for cover, and those of us at the local level are going have to step up on this stuff."

Mayor, leaders across the country call on Congress to fund transportation

THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2015 — Last fall Mayor Hales talked with The Urbanophile about Portland, touching on the need for transportation funding. Mayor Hales has been grappling with a lack of state and federal funding to maintain the city's largest asset -- its streets. Now he is standing with leaders across the country to call for Congress to adequately fund transportation. ‪#‎StandUp4Transportation

An excerpt from the interview: "I wish Congress would do their job. I wish they would pass a transportation reauthorization bill. I wish they would move the gas tax from where it’s been stuck for 21 years at 18 cents. That’s crazy. What did $0.18 buy 21 years ago versus now? Well, not as much asphalt. I can tell you that. So Congress is inert and running for cover, and those of us at the local level are going have to step up on this stuff." ‪#‎MayorsDo

Mayors call for funding in #StandUp4Transportation campaign

THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2015 — Today more than 60 mayors across the country are joining New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to call on Congress to invest in our infrastructure. Mayor Hales has called on the Oregon Legislature and Congress to do their part to provide adequate funding for street maintenance and safety ( The current state of the streets is unsafe, and the lack of funding is unacceptable. Today, mayors ‪#‎StandUp4Transportation.

Blumenauer Reintroduces Bill for Federal Gas Tax Increase

Rep. Blumenauer at press conferenceWASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 4, 2015 — Congressman Earl Blumenauer today introduced the Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act, which would generate a much-needed $210 billion over the next 10 years for the nearly insolvent Highway Trust Fund.

“Rep. Blumenauer is once again pushing Congress to be the partner it’s supposed to be in transportation funding. Thank you, Earl, for your leadership,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Portland has a $1.5 billion unfunded street liability. We need Congress and the Oregon Legislature to act — and to act at the city level — to take care of our largest asset.”

The UPDATE Act is accompanied by Congressman Blumenauer’s Road Usage Charge Pilot Program Act, which would create a competitive grant program to fund pilot projects such as those undertaken by Oregon Department of Transportation.

Congressman Blumenauer’s UPDATE Act would raise gas and diesel taxes by 15 cents over three years, indexing them to inflation. The $210 billion it would generate over a decade would be enough to make up the Highway Trust Fund shortfall and increase infrastructure investment by at least $4 billion per year.

States and cities need the certainty of a long-term reauthorization and a sustainable funding mechanism to create jobs, reduce congestion and repair roads and bridges, Mayor Hales says. Since the last full six-year surface transportation bill expired in 2003, Congress has passed 23 short-term extensions. The latest extension is set to run out at the end of May — on the eve of the summer construction season.

Congressman Blumenauer’s action comes follows President Obama’s 2016 budget, providing nearly $95 billion for U.S. Department of Transportation infrastructure projects.

The president called for a 14 percent one-time tax on previously untaxed foreign income. That would generate an estimated $268 billion in revenue. The budget helps fund a six-year, $478 billion program for highway, bridge and transit projects; that’s a 33 percent increase in large-project funding and a 75 percent increase on transit.

In Salem, Gov. John Kitzhaber and Speaker Tina Kotek have prioritized transportation funding for the session, which started this week.

After putting street fund efforts on hold while transportation funding is considered in the Oregon Legislature, city leaders have asked the body to lift state pre-emptions that prohibit the city from raising revenue on vehicle registration and studded tires. They’ve asked for a regional gas tax; for the state to fix up orphan highways and deed them over; and for an increase in statewide gas tax. A gas tax increase will require 18 votes in Senate and 36 in House.

“Last year we dug down deep with the dollars we already had and paved more streets. We went from paving 30 miles per year to paving 100 miles per year with the money we already had,” Mayor Hales said. “Now we’re calling on Congress and the State Legislature to support our colleagues in funding transportation.”

Portland Transportation Leaders Pause Street Fund Vote as Legislature Crafts Transportation Bill

Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015  – Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick today temporarily halted the paperwork necessary to take an advisory vote to the May ballot, regarding options to pay for city street maintenance and safety.

"Today, I am announcing a pause in our local efforts to fund our streets and safety projects within the City of Portland," Mayor Hales said. "Over the past week, I have had conversations with Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and with Gov. John Kitzhaber. They have each assured me that a statewide transportation package is a top priority for them this legislative session."

The Legislature is set to convene in February. The deadline for Portland to submit paperwork for the May election was 5 p.m. today.

"Because they recognize the importance of efforts to fund transportation infrastructure, they will hear the needs of local governments and ensure they are part of state transportation conversations as they work to give communities the tools to build and maintain critical infrastructure," Hales said.

"We are pleased to know that the Legislature is very interested in a transportation funding discussion this year," Commissioner Novick said. "We have said all along that the street fund we have proposed will not address all our needs, and that we are counting on the state and federal governments to step up."

The city has conducted more than 14 months of hearings to craft a proposal to pay for street maintenance and safety.

"During the passionate conversations we have had in Portland regarding transportation funding, many options were discussed, none of which prove to be popular," Hales said.

"Some options were put forward by Portlanders that we do not have the authority to enact. As your mayor, I will go to Salem to seek that authority."

Hales said he also will enlist the aid of mayors throughout Oregon to push for more authority for cities. "Together, we can represent the needs of cities, all of which will benefit from new options to fund infrastructure at a time when the existing options don’t satisfy our communities," he said.

"The completion of this work comes when all three levels of government have acted; when Congress, the Legislature and the Portland City Council have all authorized new revenues to pay for streets and roads," Hales said. "This cooperation between the State of Oregon and local governments gives us, as Oregonians, the best way forward toward that objective."

Commissioner Novick announces two-part strategy to fund safety and maintenance

MONDAY, DEC. 29, 2014 -- As a year of debate over city transportation funding draws to a close, City Commissioner Steve Novick today announced a two-part strategy to ensure funding for transportation maintenance and safety priorities.

“We are proposing a revised residential user fee, with a hearing on January 8 at 6 p.m. and a vote scheduled for January 14. If that fails, either in Council or through a subsequent referral to the ballot, we will prepare to campaign for a progressive income tax in 2016,” Novick said. The proposed non-residential fee is unchanged.

The proposed user fee will vary by income, based on national statistics showing the extent to which gasoline consumption varies by income quintile. “Gasoline use is one proxy for ‘road use,’ and gasoline use varies somewhat by income level,” Novick said.

Under the proposed fee, tax filers in the lowest fifth of the income distribution would pay $3 a month; filers in the second fifth would pay $5 a month; filers in the middle fifth would pay $7.45 a month; filers in the second-highest fifth would pay $9 a month; and filers in the top fifth would pay $12 a month. The fee is projected to raise $23 million per year.

If the user fee fails, Novick said, he plans to propose a progressive income tax to be sent to the ballot in May or November of 2016. “What I would propose is an income tax that, for married filers, exempts the first $35,000 in income, and then applies graduated rates as follows: one-tenth of one percent of income between $35,000 and $60,000; two-tenths of one percent of income between $60,000 and $100,000; three-tenths of one percent of income between $100,000 and $250,000; and four-tenths of one percent of income above $250,000.” Such a tax is also projected to raise $23 million a year. That proposal includes a $5000 per dependent deduction and is tax deductible on the state and federal returns.

“My personal preference is for a progressive income tax, which is also the most popular option among Portlanders generally. But pursuing that option would involve a campaign that would not end until at least May, and possibly November of 2016 – which means postponing actual work to repair streets and make them safer. As the Mayor and I have repeatedly said, the longer we wait, the worse the problem gets. It seems possible that we could pass a user fee in Council that would not require a campaign, which would mean that we could get to work much sooner,” Novick said.

Table 1 shows the monthly fee that would be charged under the Residential Transportation User Fee. This proposal will be presented to the City Council at a public hearing Jan. 8.

Table 2 shows the monthly charge estimated for a residential income tax that may be introduced to voters if the Residential Transportation User Fee proposal is not approved.

Table 1: Residential Transportation User Fee proposal

Annual Income Range

Average Annual Gas Spending

Monthly Fee




>$13,000 - $27,000



>$27,000 - $46,000



>$46,000 - $82,000






Notes: Income ranges apply to single filers and married or joint filers. Average Annual Gas Spending is based on national averages calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics..

Mayor Talks to 'Think Out Loud' About Proposed Street Fund

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 19, 2014 -- Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick, in charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, this afternoon talked about the street fund on OPB's "Think Out Loud" program.

They were joined by two vocal opponents of the proposal, which would use a small fee and modest income tax to generate about $46 million to repair streets and improve safety. One guest on the show, a woman who owns a business, said that although her fee would be $3 per month, she objects to the fund on principle. 

Hales challenged the basis for opposition, saying the city needs to do this -- the street fund -- or do nothing, or do something else. Opponents were unable to offer alternate revenue-generating proposals. 

Listen to the full interview here:

Mayor Talks to KATU About Proposed Street Fund

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 19, 2014 -- Mayor Charlie Hales last week talked to KATU News' ‪"Your Voice Your Vote‬" program about the street fund, which will be heard at City Council tomorrow, Thursday, at 2 p.m.Hales tells the program: "Taxes aren’t popular. I want to remind people that we have a crumbling street system in the city of Portland. It’s been crumbling for decades. And we have three options: Do this. Do nothing. Or do something else."

Hales has heard from residents and businesses that the new street fund is a manageable solution. The fee for businesses and income tax for residents (starting at $5 per month for households with, after deductions, a $40,000 annual income) will cover basic maintenance and paving (56 percent) and basic safety, such as building sidewalks (44 percent). Hales emphasized that the fund is only a start: "We also need state and federal governments to step up and raise revenue."

Why push is the mayor pushing for this revenue? "It ought to be possible for children in Portland neighborhoods to walk to school on a sidewalk. That’s not true today. It ought to be possible to get across streets with heavy traffic, and right now that’s not the case. Last year, we had 35 Portlanders killed in traffic in a city that only had 16 homicides. Each of those people was lost to a Portland families. Safety is a big deal."


Council Hears Public Testimony on Revised Street Fund Proposal

MONDAY, NOV. 10, 2014 – After months of public input, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick proposed a Portland Street Fund that will more than double the City’s pavement maintenance budget.

Mayor Hales on paving machine The Street Fund investments also will make it safer for children to walk to school and for seniors to walk to transit stops, by filling in missing sidewalks and making crossing improvements at dangerous intersections.

The Portland City Council will conduct a first reading and public hearing on the proposal at 2 p.m., Nov. 20 at City Council Chambers. A second reading and vote are expected at 10 a.m., Dec. 3.

The fund will provide about $15 million per year for preventive maintenance for street pavement in the first three years – investments that are estimated to prevent the need for more than $650 million in costly rebuilds, over a 10-year period.

“I had said: When it comes to street maintenance and safety, you can do this, do something else, or do nothing. And I wasn’t interested in ‘do nothing.’” Mayor Hales said. “These proposals come from community members who stepped up and designed a great plan.”

Businesses will pay between $3 and $144 per month, with a 50 percent discount for non-profits, under an approach developed by a business workgroup, which included representatives from Venture Portland and the Portland Business Alliance.

Individuals, meanwhile, will pay rates related to their ability to pay. For example, a couple making between $40,000 and $60,000 per year will pay $5 per month, while a couple making between $60,000 and $75,000 per year will pay $7.50 per month.

The Portland Street Fund results from the Our Streets PDX transportation funding conversation that started in January. The City Council considered a Transportation User Fee in May, but decided to seek more public input on ways to reduce charges for low-income residents and businesses, and provide a discount for non-profits.

The fund will allocate 56 percent of net revenue to maintenance, and 44 percent to safety projects, with the understanding that many projects accomplish both goals. Just under 40 percent of the first three years of safety improvements will be made in East Portland.

“Preventive maintenance saves money in the long run,” Transportation Director Leah Treat said. “The Portland Street Fund will provide $45 million in the first three years, and at that rate after 10 years, we can avoid spending more than $650 million in more expensive road rebuilds. Our crews are working hard to provide the right treatment at the right place, at the right time.”

People with questions regarding this effort can contact project staff at People also may join the conversation on Twitter, at @PBOTInfo and use the tag #ourstreetspdx.

Oregon League of Cities Op-Ed: Portland Prioritizes Maintenance, Safety Needs for Transportation

MONDAY, NOV. 3, 2014 -- Mayor Charlie Hales wrote about Portland's transportation needs in the Oregon League of Cities magazine, Local Focus. The issue was dedicated to transportation funding as a city issue. 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE, starting on page 20 of this PDF:

An excerpt:

"For too long, the streets of Oregon’s largest city have withered under the wear and tear caused by population growth and years of deferred maintenance. Now, almost half of our busiest streets are rated in “poor” or “very poor” condition. We still have many neighborhoods where people don’t feel safe walking to a bus for lack of sidewalks and safe crossings.

We’ve talked about this for decades here in Portland. And while we have talked, 28 other Oregon cities have enacted street fees.

The time has come for Portland to act.

And act we must, because as city government leaders across Oregon know, transportation funding has been short for decades. The last time the federal gas tax was raised, Beanie Babies were the popular toy. That was 1993, when the gas tax was increased to 18.3 cents per gallon. If it had been adjusted for inflation over the years, the U.S. gas tax would be 30 cents today.

Not only has the federal gas tax not kept up with inflation, it hasn’t kept up with the demands of technology and our growing population. An audit by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown’s office this summer reported the trend toward fuel-efficient cars is reducing the gas tax revenue traditionally used to pay for transportation. Young people are less interested in driving than prior generations. As our cities grow, people expect public transit and safe bicycle options to get where they need to go.

When Oregonians consume less gas, they pay less into the system that maintains the streets they rely on. The state constitution prohibits us from spending gas tax dollars on public transit and many of the other needs of modern cities. The city of Portland supported the Legislature’s approval of gas tax and vehicle registration increases in 2009. While helpful, the city’s share was just enough to cover the debt service on our contribution to replacing the Sellwood Bridge, a regional asset."

Street Fee Package Handed to Council; Mayor Comments

MONDAY, OCT. 13, 2014 -- Mayor Charlie Hales, following the street fee work session this afternoon, commented on the progress of the street fee:

"I appreciate all the work that was done this summer to really “Portland-ize” this street funding proposal. We have come away with a much better product than we started with — one that provides revenue for street maintenance and safety improvements without being overly burdensome.

I’ll emphasize that this package would pay PART of the cost of street maintenance. We’re still counting on the Oregon State Legislature to adopt a bill to help properly fund our roads. We’re still counting on the federal government to pass legislation to raise the gas tax. We’re hoping taking this action will inspire action by two other levels of government.

The street fee work has now been handed back to Council. While a few criteria need to be finalized, we are close to putting a proposal together that I believe emphasizes fairness, while starting the process of repairing our system.

Ultimately, it’s not going to be a perfect mechanism, but I knew that when we began. But we’re within striking distance of something that’s fair for all Portlanders and that begins the critical work of repairing our biggest city asset: our streets."

More information:

Work group summary:
How money will be spent:

Chief of Staff talks Transportation Need in Portland

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 17, 2014 -- Gail Shibley, the mayor's chief of staff, at the Oregon Coast Economic Summit in August was interviewed about transportation needs in Portland -- how the mayor fulfilled the 100-mile paving promise, the street fee, and taking care of what we have and investing in what we need.

"In the city of Portland alone we have 56 miles of unpaved streets -- unpaved, nothing there, gravel. No sidewalks, no crossings for kids," Gail said. "Better streets are a real need -- a public safety need, a mobility need."

Congressman Calls on Mayor, Other Leaders Discuss Transportation Issues

TUESDAY, AUG. 5, 2014 — Mayor Charlie Hales on Monday joined some of the most influential leaders in transportation for in-depth discussion of funding streets, roads and highways at U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s “Forum on the Future of America’s Transportation Infrastructure.”

Mayor Hales on a street paver“Portland is in competition with other cities for quality of place — and other cities are being more aggressive, improving their streets, sidewalks, bikeways and public transportation,” Hales said. “When 40 percent of our streets are in ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ condition, we need to do something.”

Blumenauer organized the forum to discuss federal, state, regional and city transportation funding issues, and to brainstorm ways to pay for transportation infrastructure outside of federal funding. Leaders also discussed “climate smart” transportation planning, emphasizing sustainable modes of transportation that also reduce wear and tear on roadways.

Ultimately, leaders said, transportation improvements boil down to more revenue. Representatives from trucking and associated industries supported higher taxes to pay for infrastructure, which would benefit their industries in the long run. Likewise, Hales said, Portlanders and Oregonians paying for their streets and sidewalks today will have long-term payoffs.

“Right now we call our highways in this country ‘freeways,’” Hales said. “That’s unrealistic. We’re going to have to get used to paying as we go. It’s taking care of the infrastructure we have and investing in long-term growth.”

In other parts of the country, sales tax and highway tolls pay for transportation and other needs. With the federal Highway Trust Fund stagnant at 1993 funding levels and inadequate state gas tax revenue, Hales said, eventually that also will be Oregon’s reality.

“We’ve gotten used to a state of affairs that can’t last,” he said.

The street fee proposed by Hales and Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick would raise the revenue for pavement maintenance, safe routes to schools, building sidewalks, improving crosswalks, and building protected bike lanes.

Community task forces are meeting this summer to help design the residential and non-residential fees. Council is slated to vote on the fee in November.

“It’s a clumsy method to raise revenue,” Hales said. “I’m open to other ideas that can raise the $53 million we need for streets. But so far, there hasn’t been a viable alternative.

“Streets are only getting worse. There are unpaved gravel roads in the city limits,” he added. “Potholes are driving neighborhoods crazy. Kids in some neighborhoods don’t have proper sidewalks or crosswalks. We need revenue to address these problems.” 

Mayor Hales, Commissioner Novick Agree to Pull Back Charter Amendment; Push Forward with Street Fee in 2015

THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2014 – A proposed change to the city charter from Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick, designed to lock in the use of the proposed street fee for maintenance and safety, will be pulled off the table.

Mayor Hales at a town hall“The issue was confusing to people,” Hales said. “We listened to hours of testimony. We’ve received hundreds of emails and calls. Local media claim it confuses them. We’re listening. If the charter change is muddying the real message – that we must take care of our streets – then we’ll take it off the table.”

Hales and Novick have held 10 town hall meetings and have discussed a street fee at many City Council meetings this spring and summer. In 2012, Hales ran on making street maintenance a priority. And he’s talked about it since arriving in office 18 months ago.

“The independent auditor tells us we need more than $75 million per year to take care of the largest thing we own: our streets. We haven’t even gotten close to that. Our streets are in disrepair, the state and federal governments are not going to swoop in with a more robust gas tax to save us. It’s up to us.”

Hales and Novick are committed to ensuring that revenue from any new funding mechanism would be dedicated to improving the maintenance and safety of our city’s transportation network, including paving and sidewalks. The charter amendment that would go to voters in November is one way of codifying that commitment.

But residents who attended town halls, or who contacted the mayor’s office, have said the proposal is confusing.

“We don’t want any confusion on this: We have not taken care of our streets; we have to turn that around; we don’t have the millions-per-year necessary now to do it; no one else is going to do this except us; we need a street fee,” Hales said. “None of that has changed. We’re told that the charter amendment was adding confusion. So we’ll take that off the table for now, until we’ve reached a consensus on a funding proposal.”

Work groups will be created this summer to examine the best way to enact a residential fee and a non-residential fee. All meetings will be open to the public.

Hales and Novick expect a council vote on the transportation fee by this fall. It is expected to be enacted by July 2015.

Hundreds Line Up to Speak at 10th Street Fee Hearing

THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2014 – An estimated 120 people jammed into a community space at Kaiser Permanente Interstate on Wednesday to express their views on the proposed city street fee. Mayor Charlie Hales, Commissioner Steve Novick and Leah Treat, director of the city Transportation Bureau, sat through more than two hours of emotional testimony.

PBOT Director Leah TreatThe street fee has been proposed by Hales and Novick to address the backlog of maintenance and safety repairs to the city’s streets. Historic funding mechanisms – federal and state gas tax – have become woefully inadequate in the 21st century.

“Our options are to do this, to something else, or to do nothing,” Hales said, noting that more than 40 percent of the city’s streets are rated at “poor” to “very poor” condition. “Frankly, ‘doing nothing’ is not an option. I refused to leave this to our children and our grandchildren to pay for.”

Treat said the city formerly had repaired about 30 miles of street per year. Last year, Hales and Novick vowed to repair 100 miles – of the estimated 5,000 lane-miles owned by the city.

Transportation crews will hit the 100-mile mark within a week.

“At this rate, it would take 48 years to repair all our roads,” Treat said.

Hales and Novick are proposing a street fee for residents and non-residents, to begin in July 2015. They have held 10 public hearings on the topic. Work groups for both the residential and non-residential will be formed this summer. All meetings will be open to the public.

“Nobody wants fees,” Hales said. “We hear you. But our largest asset is our streets. The feds won’t bail us out. The state won’t bail us out. It’s up to us.”

Street Fee: Residents Sound Off at Town Hall

TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2014 — Business owners expressed their concerns, complaints, and support for a street fee Tuesday morning at the Oregon Convention Center during the ninth town hall addressing the mechanism proposed to improve Portland’s streets and sidewalks.

Mayor Hales, Commissioner NovickThe transportation user fee would raise around $53 million annually for street maintenance, safety and projects, such as paving gravel roads — less than the billion dollars in need, but enough to prevent street maintenance from becoming cost prohibitive in the future.

“We have not taken care of our largest asset: our streets,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “If we do nothing, your children and your grandchildren will get the bill. And it will be much, much higher than it is today. We cannot do nothing.”

Mayor Hales, Commissioner Steve Novick and Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat noted people’s concerns about the flawed trip-generator model and regressive nature of the fee, as well as some suggestions for alternate sources of revenue — a 40-cent higher gas tax, tax on studded tires, and a sales tax. Some business owners asked to broaden the scope of the fee to raise more revenue.

Most of the 30 speakers acknowledged a need to improve streets; one speaker read a news story about potholes in Southwest Portland, and several business owners said they were aware that better streets and sidewalks are good for business.

The town hall drew about 140 people. A 10th town hall to discuss the residential fee will be Wednesday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Kaiser Permanente’s Town Hall, 3704 N. Interstate Ave. 

Street Fee Town Hall Moves to Larger Venue

JUNE 20, 2014 – With higher-than-expected interest in the transportation funding proposal, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has decided to relocate Tuesday’s town hall to the Oregon Convention Center, Portland Ballroom 255.

The event is free and open to the public. The Tuesday meeting is intended to focus on how the transportation fee would work for businesses, non-profits and other non-residential land uses. Participants are encouraged to discuss ways improve the proposal or suggest alternative ways of raising money for transportation safety and maintenance. A Wednesday night meeting will focus on the fee for households.

Participants will discuss a proposed charter amendment, which would go to voters in November, and which would lock in the use of the utility fee money for transportation only.

“Portlanders are passionate about participating in local government,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “We welcome ideas about how they want to improve the transportation fee, or alternative proposals on par with the $53 million it would raise. There’s no question we need to invest in basic transportation maintenance and safety.”

The Tuesday event is the first of two town halls coming up:

Town Hall on Business and Non-Residential Fee: 8 to 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, June 24, at Oregon Convention Center, Portland Ballroom 255, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Directions and visitor info.

Town Hall on Residential Fee: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 25, at Kaiser Permanente’s Town Hall, 3704 N Interstate Ave.

The town hall meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to speak with transportation staff, ask questions and make comments to Mayor Hales, Commissioner Steve Novick and Transportation Director Leah Treat.

The City Council delayed the proposal June 4, after five months of Our Streets PDX town halls, online surveys, advisory committee meetings and a five-hour public hearing May 29. Two upcoming town halls will kick off the next phase of outreach through October, designed to gather input to address the needs of businesses, non-profits and low-income households.

For more information about the Our Streets PDX funding conversation and the proposed Transportation User Fee, see the project web page:

See updated information on the proposed fee the council amended May 29:

Updated online calculator: PBOT has updated an online calculator that estimates the monthly fee for residential and non-residential ratepayers. PBOT has updated the web calculator from the proposed $11.56 fee to the 3-year phase-in starting at $6 a month for single-family properties.

Transportation User Fee rate details: Details on the way the fee is calculated, to help business owners find the right information.

Frequently Asked Questions: This series of questions and answers will help the public learn more about why the fee was proposed and what it would pay for.

Email us for more information at

Talk about it on twitter, using hashtag #ourstreetspdx or see @pbotinfo

Street Fee: Council Vote Delayed, but Not Fee Itself

TUESDAY, JULY 3, 2014 -- The proposal by Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick to launch a street fee in 2015 remains on schedule. However, the council vote on how to structure the fee will be pushed back until November.

"We have not taken care of our largest asset: our streets. We have to change that," Mayor Hales said. "We’ve been talking about this for 13 years, and we held several town halls this winter and spring to hear from people. Despite that, many constituents still haven’t been heard yet. We get that. Postponing the Council vote will give people time to weigh in on whether this is the best solution to this dire need, and to consider changes to make it work better."

"The last street fee proposal in 2008 was derailed by a lobbyist filing a referendum petition," said Commissioner Novick. "This one has been temporarily delayed due to concerns voiced by small business owners and low-income people and advocates. We are in a hurry to get to work, but if we’re going to be delayed, it’s for the right reasons."

The City Council on Wednesday will still vote on referring a charter change that would lock in the use of any street fee for transportation purposes. "Voters need to be assured that we will spend this money the way we say we will," Hales said. "A charter change will ensure that we stay true to that commitment, administration after administration."

However, the council vote on both the residential fee, and the non-residential fee, will be pushed back to November.

Further public forums will be scheduled to hear from residents and the business community.

And two work groups will be formed. Their charges:

● To analyze city policy regarding low-income residents and fees. The work group will look at the street fee as well as fees for other city utilities, including water and sewer, to see how well low-income residents are being served and how widely discounts can be applied.

● To further engage with small business, nonprofit and government partners on design and implementation of the fee.

"Think of this as a track race," Hales said. "We haven’t moved the finish line, which is July 2015. But we’re moving the starting blocks. We heard from the community: We are taking our time to hear a more robust debate on the details of this fee. But we have not wavered in our resolve. It is our intention to finally address our deteriorating streets."