Last day to opt out of leaf cleanup fee is today

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Leaves are starting to pile up on our streets and sidewalks. They can clog storm drains and make things pretty slippery.

The City of Portland is getting ready to clean them up, but it'll cost you. 

Tuesday, Nov. 1 is the deadline to opt out of Portland's 2016 Leaf Day Pickup. It means you don't want to pay the $15-$30 to have city crews suction up piles of fall leaves from the streets.

But when you opt out, you promise to pick them up yourself.

Click here to see if your house is in the leaf pickup zone

We met several families who like to rake and compost the leaves on their properties themselves. They went online and registered to opt out of paying the $30.

A KGW investigation this past winter showed half of all 30,000 eligible residents opted not to pay, which is allowed. But regardless of who opts out and who pays, every street in the leaf zones will be swept clean.

The city says to keep people honest, they'll spot-check homes that opted out, to see if any effort was made to remove the leaves.

"We do spot checks and we've found over the years, most Portlanders who are opting out, are indeed managing their leaves or don't have trees on their site," said Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesperson Dylan Rivera.

If they fail the spot check, they'll be billed the service fee. Those are the rules in this imperfect program, but it's not clear if they're ever really enforced.

"We feel like it's best to use an encouragement approach as opposed to trying to be punitive," Rivera said.

Neighbors say that's fair.

"It seems like if this is a program where everyone is getting their leaves cleared, everyone should pay for it," Derek Rogalsky of Northeast Portland said.

Kent Davis in the Irvington neighborhood opted out of the fee because he likes to rake his own leaves, but he doesn't like that some people who opt out, and still don't clean up their tree's mess, are getting the service for free.

"If you have a tree, you should be responsible for the tree," Davis said. "If you're going to opt out, you need to take care of it, it's not cool."

If you're in a leaf pickup zone, the sweeps start in certain neighborhoods Nov. 12 and go through mid-December. If you're a paying resident, sweep your leaves into the street, and they'll be picked up for you.

KGW investigates: Half of Portland residents don't pay for leaf cleanup


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