City evaluates fee collected to repair roads

Some don't want to pay to fix roads outside their neighborhood

Portland has 50 miles of unpaved, unmaintained roads. (KOIN)
Portland has 50 miles of unpaved, unmaintained roads. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — City commissioners are trying tackle street and sidewalk improvement in the Portland area using a fee collected from the construction of new homes.

The city started collecting the fee, known as L-Tic, in the spring of 2016 and has collected around $2 million so far. The money is earmarked to fix 250 miles of unpaved streets that don’t have sidewalks or sewer connections in the metro area.

“The money is in a lock box,” Commissioner Nick Fish said. “The money has not been spent and won’t be spent until we set up these guidelines.”

Streets in the Cully neighborhood off Division Street and Tryon Creek area are being considered for the first repairs.

Some home builders say it’s unfair because they’re being charged to fix streets that aren’t in their neighborhoods.

“People want improve streets and new sidewalks, but it should be citywide that people pay for it, not just a select few homeowners paying the bulk of the cost,” said Ken Paulsen, who wants to build a home in Portland.

He said he might have to pay upwards of $90,000 total to build a home on his empty lot.

“It’s just an overwhelming burden to us,” Paulsen said.

Fish said they are considering ways to address the high cost, which is collected depending on how much street frontage the property has on a unimproved road. He said they are considering an ordinance to cap the fee and programs that offer discounts and financing.

Staff in Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s office will be taking feedback residents gave during the first reading of the ordinance into consideration and will come back with a revised ordinance in early 2018.