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Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a TSDC?

What do the fees pay for?

Who pays and what kind of development is included?

How much do developers pay?

Can developers do anything to pay a lower or different fee amount? 

Are TSDC credits available and how are they determined?

Are TSDC exemptions available?

Can I give away or sell my TSDC credits?

What if I disagree with the amount of the TSDC my development is assessed?

When and how do I pay the TSDC?

Where can I find the TSDC rate that applies to my development?  Who ultimately determines my total TSDC cost?

Why person trips?

Q: What is a TSDC?
A: Whenever a new building is constructed in Portland, including a home, store, office, etc., the developer pays Transportation System Development Charges, or TSDCs. These are one-time fees paid by developers when they build something new. The fee covers part of the cost of building transportation facilities to serve development—things like roads, sidewalks and other facilities that get people to where they need to go. TSDCs also apply to redevelopment of existing buildings when that redevelopment will generate an increase in trips to and from the site

Q: What do the fees pay for?

A: The fees pay for specific projects that are on the TSDC propose project list.

Q: Who pays and what kind of development is included?
A:  TSDC fees apply to all types of development—residential, commercial, and industrial. Developers pay TSDC fees when they receive a building permit from the City of Portland for a new development, or changes of use to existing buildings that will increase the number of person trips to and from the site.

Q: How much do developers pay?

A: The fees are based on how many person trips a new development will create during the evening commute hour. For example, a single family home will have much less impact than a large grocery store, so the fee is substantially less for a home than for a grocery store. The greater the impact a new development will have on our transportation system, the higher its rate. 

The City classifies developments into different land use categories. There are 27 land use categories—things like single family residential, multi-family residential, movie theaters, churches, hospitals, convenience stores, self-storage, etc.  Each of these uses pay a different rate based on the number of person trips they generate.

What are overlay zones (North Macadam and the Innovation Quadrant)?

In addition to the Citywide TSDC, developers may pay additional fees when they develop in specific “overlay” zones. A TSDC Overlay is an additional TSDC that is charged only in, and for, that specific zone. Currently there are two overlay zones in Portland: North Macadam and the Innovation Quadrant. Fees collected from developers who build in the overlay zones will be used on transportation projects to serve future users within the boundaries of the overlay zone. You can learn about TSDCs for the overlay zones on the TSDC Rates Page.

Q: Can developers do anything to pay a lower or different fee amount?
A:  Yes. Developers can submit information showing that their development does not generate as many trips as shown in the City’s rate study. The TSDC program administrator has the ultimate decision whether or not to accept the data.  There are also certain credits and exemptions available in some instances

Q: Are TSDC credits available and how are they determined?
A:  TSDC credits are available under certain conditions. First, if you participate in building a project that is on the TSDC list of capital projects, you may be entitled to a dollar-for-dollar credit against a future TSDC.  Secondly, if you change the use of an existing building to a new use that reduces person trip generation by more than 15 percent and the development previously paid a TSDC, you may be eligible for a credit against your TSDC obligation.

Q: Are TSDC exemptions available?
A:  Any building permit issued by the City of Portland that is also subject to a TSDC or traffic impact fee for Washington County, Multnomah County or Clackamas County is exempt from payment of the Portland TSDC. 

Also exempt from TSDC assessments are: permits that will have a negligible impact on the overall trip generation of a site (by increasing the total number of PM Peak Hour person trips generated by the site by less than 15% and fewer than 25 trips); permits for remodels that do not change the use of a building;  and changes of use within an existing building, when the entire building is under 3,000 square feet.  Buildings between 3,001 and 5,000 square feet are assessed TSDCs on a graded scale.  For example, a 3,500-square-foot building would receive a 75 percent discount and a 4,500-square-foot building would receive a 25 percent discount.  Exemptions also are available for low-income housing projects that meet affordability criteria and timelines.

Q: Can I give away or sell my TSDC credits?
A:  TSDC Credit Transfers can be issued by the City and can be transferred to other parcels or persons. The credits are good for a period of 10 years.[DS4] 

Q: What if I disagree with the amount of the TSDC my development is assessed?
A:  You have two options:  1) you can submit information showing that your development does not generate as many PM peak hour person trips as shown in the City's rate study; or 2) you can appeal to the TSDC Administrator within 180 days of when your building permit was issued.

Q: When and how do I pay the TSDC?
A: The obligation to pay the TSDC is established when your building permit is issued. You have three options to pay: 1) at the time the permit is issued; 2) in one payment, six, nine, or twelve months of the date of permit issuance with interest (deferral term based on project valuation); or 3) in monthly installments, with interest, over a period of five, 10 or 20 years. You will be required to make an irrevocable commitment to a payment option before the permit will be issued. Whether you choose to defer payments or finance the TSDC over time, the City will file a priority lien against the subject property. There is a service charge for establishing the lien account.

Q: Where can I find the TSDC rate that applies to my development?  Who ultimately determines my total TSDC cost?
A:  See the rate charts. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is responsible for determining the cost. If your type of development does not appear in the chart, contact Richard Eisenhauer at (503) 823-6108 for more information regarding the TSDC.

Q: Why person trips?

A: Portland’s TSDC program has historically assessed fees to new development based on an estimate of person trips derived from applying adjustment factors to vehicle trip counts. A major shift in this TSDC program update is setting rates based on newly available person trip surveys, rather than more traditional vehicle trip data.  This shift better captures the full spectrum of travel in Portland, which includes a strong mix of walking, biking, taking transit, carpooling, and driving alone. The use of person trips helps justify a more inclusive, multimodal project list that benefits a wide range of Portlanders.