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Portland Bureau of Transportation

We keep Portland moving

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Frequently asked questions



   Q.   If I sell my home with a pending lien, will I still be financially responsible?

  • No, liens remain with the property, and are not personal obligations. However, some mortgage companies may want a "clean" title and therefore may require that the lien be paid in full before financing is extended.

   Q.   Do property owners have any input as to how the assessment methodology for their LID is derived? 

  • Yes, so long as it is equitable and complies with state law in accurately capturing benefit received by the property. Because the City works with property owners in developing an assessment methodology for their LID, it is generally not possible to quote an exact amount or proportion of the cost that any one property owner will be asked to share until this dialogue has taken place.

   Q.  What assessment methodologies are used?

  • Square footage and linear (front) footage are most commonly used. Although simplest to administer, equal share is generally not used unless there is unanimity among property owners to use this method.

   Q.  Will I receive a discount if I live on a lot with multiple frontages (such as a corner lot)?

  • If your other abutting street has previously been improved to City standards, you may be eligible for a discount on your assessable area. If an abutting substandard street remains after this LID is completed, you may be eligible for a future discount if another LID is eventually formed to improve the second substandard street to City standards. 
   Q.  When will construction, design or engineering begin on a street improvement?
  • Building a street improvement begins with survey, followed by engineering and construction. Survey work does not begin until after an LID is formed.


   Q.  How can property owners minimize costs of street improvements?

  • Property owners can minimize project costs by working with the City and their neighbors to achieve early consensus on the project design to minimize engineering costs. This avoids the cost of redesigning a project. Working closely with the City throughout the course of the project also helps to avoid costly project delays. Costs can also be reduced through economy of scale if there is property owner support to improve several blocks at once instead of a piecemeal "block-by-block" approach.

   Q.  What are major cost elements of building a street?

  • Providing for proper drainage is a major portion of the expense of building a street. In general, streets in hilly areas will be more expensive to construct since a storm sewer is usually required, while in flatter areas, it may be possible to use a less-costly sump system to handle drainage although the use of sumps is increasingly being restricted by state and federal regulations. Properly-engineered streets cost more to build initially, but are much less expensive to maintain on an ongoing basis.

   Q.  Can we pave a street on our own without a permit to save costs?

  • Section 17.24.010 of City Code requires a permit for paving in the public right-of-way if the existing surface is dirt or gravel. The City does not maintain pavement that was installed without a permit. Pavement installed without a proper base usually does not last very long, breaks up and looks unsightly over time. Pavement installed without proper drainage can also flood basements and/or erode abutting properties. Abutting property owners are responsible for pavement installed without a permit; the City does not accept maintenance responsibility until the street has been improved to proper standards. See Alternatives to an LID

   Q.  When do costs become more certain for a project?

  • Because most of the cost of a project is construction, and because the private sector (not the City) builds street improvements, there is usually a much greater degree of certainty in the project costs once the public bidding process is complete.
    Q.  Are curbs required?
  • In general, curbs are required on most local streets. Curbs protect the roadway edge from "unraveling"; define the roadway and parking area, keeping cars on streets or driveways; channel stormwater to inlets and away from sidewalks and private property; and provide protection for pedestrians. Curbs represent a very small portion of the project cost, and greatly reduce long-term maintenance costs. However, in some cases swales may be used in lieu of curbs where topography will allow and right-of-way is available. 
    Q.  Is financing available?  
  • Yes; each property owner chooses whether to arrange financing or to pay in full, and each property owner within an LID can separately select his or her financing term (5, 10 or 20 years). 

    Q.  If I choose to pay my assessment in full, can I later choose to finance the assessment? 

  • No, once an assessment has been paid, it cannot be financed. You may want to finance you
    assessment to maximize your flexibility; you may choose later to prepay some or all of your assessment, and there is no prepayment penalty for doing so. 

    Q.  What are the financing rates? 

  • An "interim" rate is applied until the City arranges permanent financing. The permanent rates are subject to change, but as of January 10, 2003, the five-year rate was 3.65%; the ten-year rate was 5.10%; and the 20-year rate was 6.10%.


   Q.  Will the City help share in the cost of improving my street?

  • Improving all unimproved and substandard streets in the City of Portland would cost at least $1.6 billion. The City does not currently have funding to share in the cost of street improvements, and funding is a challenge nationwide. However, the City encourages the formation of LIDs to bring streets up to City standards, and absorbs the indirect (overhead) expenses associated with LIDs. The property owner usually only pays the direct expenses, such as engineering, financing and the payments to the contractor. 

Government-Owned Property

  1. All properties owned by city, regional or state government are included in an LID. Only federally-owned property is exempt from assessment. 

Length of Improvements

  1. Usually at least an entire block must be improved, from one intersection to another (or to the end of the street in the case of cul-de-sacs). Improving short street segments is very expensive because of lack of economies of scale.
  2. City resources are increasingly strained to maintain the $5.5 billion investment in streets which have been properly constructed. Maintaining unimproved streets is unfortunately not cost-effective. For this reason, City Code places the responsibility for maintaining unimproved streets on the abutting property owner until the street has been improved to City standards.
  3. Will I have to maintain my street once it is built to City standards?
  4. The City assumes maintenance responsibility and provides street-sweeping services once it is constructed to City standards.
    • If someone declines to sign a petition in favor of an LID, will they be required to help pay for the street improvement?
    • Why doesn't the City maintain unimproved streets? 


Petition Support

  1. Yes, if the property benefits from the street improvements. Financial responsibility is spread as widely as possible among those who benefit in order to make the costs as affordable as possible for everyone.
  2. If someone signs a petition, can they later change their mind?
  3. If petitions are received representing more than 50 percent of benefiting property owners, City Council will consider whether to form an LID. Petition support may be withdrawn before the Resolution of Intent Hearing is held before City Council. However, anyone within the proposed LID can remonstrate at the LID Formation Hearing, even if he or she has already signed a petition in favor of the LID.
  4. Who gets to vote on an LID?
  5. Those who are being asked to share in the cost of street improvement may sign a petition in favor of an LID. Petition support is measured by proposed assessment methodology.
  6. The majority of the cost of a street improvement is construction. The private sector bids on projects; the City generally does not build the street. Generally about two-thirds to three-quarters of project-cost is for construction. Projects awarded through the public bidding process are subject to prevailing wage laws, which is not the case for permit projects. However, it is more difficult to spread the costs among benefiting property owners with a permit process than it is for an LID. However, the permit process can work well for those with the time and expertise to handle engineering and construction.
  7. Generally most fencing, landscaping or trees in the public right-of-way will need to be removed. For most residential streets, this includes any vegetation within 25’ of the centerline of the street, but the public right-of-way may be wider in some cases. We encourage you to avoid building fences or planting vegetation in the public right-of-way, even if your street will not be improved in the near future.
  8. Where does my property end and the public right-of-way begin?
  9. Most local streets have 50 feet of public right-of-way; some have 60 feet. The most accurate way to determine the boundary between private property and public right-of-way is by survey. However, a less formal way to approximate this boundary is to measure 25 feet from the center of the street (using a 50 foot right-of-way as an example). Please feel welcome to contact us to get an approximation of the public right-of-way width for your street.
  10. What is a remonstrance?
  11. A remonstrance is a formal appeal to an action being taken by City Council to form an LID.
  12. What is an objection?
  13. An objection is a formal appeal to action being taken by City Council to levy final assessments for an LID.
  14. When are remonstrances and objections allowed?
  15. Written remonstrances are allowed prior to the LID Formation Hearing, and prior to the Final Assessment Hearing. They must be filed with the Auditor's Office by the deadline at City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Avenue, Room 140, Portland, OR 97204.
  16. Will someone respond to my remonstrance or objection?
  17. The LID Administrator will submit a Summary to Council that will formally respond to your remonstrance or objection. You will receive a copy of the Summary to Council, along with the action taken, after the Summary to Council has been considered by City Council. Remonstrances must be submitted in writing to the City Auditor one week prior to the LID Formation Hearing or the Final Assessment Hearing to ensure that they are received and to allow time for a response.
  18. Are there alternatives to submitting a remonstrance?
  19. Yes. The LID Administrator and LID Project Coordinator are available to work with you throughout the project, from prior to LID formation to final assessment. We can be reached via both telephone and e-mail. The earlier the City is made aware of a problem, the more likely the City will be able to address it.
  20. Are sidewalks required as part of a street improvement?
  21. In most cases, sidewalks are constructed at the same time street improvements are made, in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the state Bicycle Bill. Sidewalks represent a small portion of the overall project cost (usually less than 5 percent), and are significantly less expensive to build as part of a street improvement project than to build separately later on. The City of Portland receives many requests each year to build sidewalks in areas lacking adequate pedestrian facilities, and therefore builds sidewalks wherever possible, except where infeasible due to topographical constraints.
  22. What materials may be used in constructing sidewalks?
  23. Concrete is the standard material because of its longevity; little maintenance is required if constructed properly in the beginning. Pavers may be used in lieu of concrete. Asphalt is less durable and therefore more expensive to maintain. Bark mulch and other similar materials are not used because they deteriorate rapidly and do not provide adequate access for the disabled.
  24. What is a waiver of remonstrance?
  25. A waiver of remonstrance means that a property is automatically counted in favor of a street improvement for a future LID. However, the City works closely with all property owners in an LID, whether waivered or not, and seeks petition support from waivered properties. A waiver does not preclude a property owner from testifying at City Council in favor of, or against, a proposed street improvement. City Council is much more likely to approve formation of an LID with petition support than with waiver support.
  26. Why are waivers used?
  27. The City receives waivers from the original developer of a property in lieu of requiring a street improvement. They also serve an important function in that they disclose to property owners their future responsibility to share in the cost of street improvements
    • Will anything in the public right-of-way need to be removed?
    • Can a group of property owners save money by taking out a permit for street improvements instead of forming an LID?



Public Right-of-Way

Remonstrances and Objections