Transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, have operated in Portland since 2015. The following year, we audited how the City regulated these companies and recommended better monitoring of the services they provided.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has made some progress in implementing our eight recommendations. We consider three to be resolved, but work remains in analyzing company data for long wait times or disparities in wheelchair-accessible service.
On the plus side, the Bureau has updated the collision report form and uses this information to decide where to inspect cars. The Bureau also continues to conduct inspections in areas where bicyclists and pedestrians are at risk.
But we want to see renewed efforts by the Bureau in regularly analyzing data for service levels – including how many rides are happening, how long are wait times, and how many passengers don’t get a car they requested. The Bureau estimated there were 12 million rides in 2018 with an average wait time of six minutes, but more comprehensive analysis is needed. For example, the Bureau did not analyze whether there were disparities in wheelchair-accessible service.
For more detail, see our follow-up report. We will check back next year on the Bureau’s progress implementing the remaining recommendations. Stay tuned!
– Minh Dan Vuong, Senior Management Auditor
Opens: January 21, 2019 | Closes: February 8, 2019 | Salary range: $ 92,851 - $ 162,490 per year
Apply here: https://tinyurl.com/y9jqqjl9
The Chief Hearings Officer acts on behalf of City Council to conduct quasi-judicial administrative hearings and render impartial decisions related to code enforcement, land use, vehicle tows, appeals, and other types of cases.
The Hearings Office is a division of the City Auditor’s Office, which provides it administrative support and a neutral base from which to make its decisions, which are subject to appellate review. As an elected official, the Auditor is independent of the Mayor, Commissioners, and City management.
In addition to hearing cases and preparing written decisions, the Chief Hearings Officer manages a small office. The Hearings Office is staffed by two full-time administrative clerks and one part-time Hearings Officer. The Chief Hearings Officer may assign cases to rotating on-call Hearings Officers under contract to the Auditor’s Office when outside assistance is needed to manage caseloads, conflicts, or provide land-use expertise.
The Auditor’s Office values a diverse workforce and seeks ways to foster a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion in delivering public services and everyday interactions in the workplace. The Office encourages candidates with experience working with a broad range of individuals and diverse communities to apply.
Portland residents rely on Bureau of Environmental Services restoration projects and green streets to improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat, and prevent flooding. However, without formal methods to select projects and document outcomes, the City may not meet those goals.
In 2018, the Bureau spent nearly $13 million in construction on projects to treat rain water run-off, including restoration projects and green streets, however there was no formal method to track and report progress towards goals. Instead the Bureau relied on piecemeal reporting and staff assurances.
- Despite intentions going back almost a decade, the Bureau did not have a Stormwater System Plan in place to guide the investment of capital spending for restoration projects and green streets.
- The Bureau did not have an inventory to document where it invested funding for restoration projects and the goals achieved.
- The Bureau did not have a method to quantify the overall condition of more than 2,000 green streets.
We recommended that the Bureau commit to a date for completion of the stormwater system plan to ensure that restoration projects and green streets were in the highest priority places. We also recommended improved monitoring and reporting.
To view the entire report go to: www.portlandoregon.gov/auditservices/BESgreen
-- Elizabeth Pape, Senior Management Auditor
Our reports are geared to general audiences, but some well-informed community members may want more of the nuts and bolts. If you’ve found yourself wishing you could ask us whether we considered something you’ve been thinking about, we can come to your community meeting to offer an in-person briefing.
Two recent examples were the Development Review Advisory Committee and the Portland Utility Board. Last week they took the opportunity to grill us about our audit on Bureau of Environmental Services programs for stormwater management on private property.
The Bureau of Environmental Services relies on private property owners to manage stormwater that runs off roofs and pavement yet has not adequately tracked their systems or assessed the overall benefits.
The City Auditor found that the Bureau of Environmental Services’ data about private stormwater management were not adequate for system planning. The Bureau also had not evaluated whether programs related to private stormwater management met goals for volume of stormwater managed or for rate fairness. Without evaluations, the Bureau could not show that the benefits of private stormwater management exceeded costs imposed on the private sector and could not adjust program elements to optimize efficiency.
Members of the Development Review Advisory Committee provide advice to City bureaus about the development review process. We thought that the committee might be interested in our finding about thresholds in the Stormwater Management Manual that trigger requirements associated with new development.
The Portland Utility Board is a community oversight body for the management of the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau. We thought the board might be interested in our finding about the Clean River Rewards discount program. The Board tied our finding to its broader work related to providing financial assistance for low income ratepayers.
To view the full audit report visit: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditservices/article/691508
If your community organization is interested in an in-person briefing about any of our audits, we’d love to come out and speak with you. Visit the Audit Services Division website for contact information and audit topics. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditservices/
-- Elizabeth Pape, Senior Management Auditor
Despite concerns about the effect of short-term rentals on housing availability and affordability, the City of Portland does not collect data needed to regulate these rentals and monitor the housing market.
Since the City began regulating short-term rentals in 2014, the number has more than doubled. The intent of regulations was that homes should be used primarily for residential rather than commercial purposes, but the City’s current approach cannot assure this. Most hosts do not obtain the required permits: only an estimated 22 percent of properties are permitted, and the City rarely enforces its regulations.
City bureaus’ ability to enforce the regulations is limited by the lack of data about short-term rental activity, including listings and their hosts, and how often and for how long listings are rented. Of approximately 15 booking agents active in Portland, none regularly provide data to the City. The Auditor’s Office used information gathered by a third party to provide an overview of Portland’s short-term rental market. Visual representations of this data can be found on the City Auditor’s website.
To effectively regulate the short-term rental market, the audit recommends the Bureau of Development Services and Revenue Division obtain data on hosts, listings, and occupancy from booking agents or from other publicly available sources. The Housing Bureau should use this data to monitor the effect of short-term rentals on the housing market.
Responses to the audit from Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Eudaly, Bureau of Development Services, Housing Bureau and the Office of Management and Finance are included in the report.
Report Link: www.portlandoregon.gov/auditservices/airbnb