PORTLAND – A group of Southwest Portland residents decided they were tired of neighborhood potholes and hired a contractor to fix the problem. But the city might now charge those residents to bring those unpermitted repairs up to code.
Homeowner Peter Samson said that until about seven months ago he could barely even make it into his own driveway because the road in front of his Multnomah Village home—Southwest 37th Avenue–was unimproved.
He said driving home was like an off-road adventure. Neighbor Paul Hughes said the gullies created by the potholes channeled water into his home.
“It was obvious to all of us the city was never going to do anything on its own,” Hughes said.
They told KGW that when they spoke with city officials about the improvements they were told it would cost each homeowner about $20,000.
Instead the homeowners decided to take matters into their own hands. Last October they hired a paving company to do the job for only about $1,000 per resident.
But just last week they received letters from the City of Portland, stating that because the homeowners and the paving company did not get the proper permits, they are now liable for any run-off, flooding or environmental problems their unauthorized paving may cause.
“In this case because it’s a very steep hill, the rainwater and the storm water will run off, and run into a neighbor’s property,” said Diane Dulken of the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
Dulken said while the street looks good, a city engineer will still have to see if it meets code. If not, Hughes, Samson and other neighbors will have to pay the price to fix it. That could end up costing more than the original estimate for the permitted work. But homeowners said they are confident the work will be up to code.