Leaf Day Pickup begins, but clogged storm drains still flood some streets

Leaf Day Pickup - KATU photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – A sure sign of the shift in seasons is upon us as the City of Portland’s Leaf Pickup Day gets underway this week.

From mid-November to mid-December, Portland Bureau of Transportation crews go through neighborhoods to sweep up the leaves that would otherwise clog up storm drains and make a slippery mess on the roads.

The annual leaf pickup takes place in zones across the city, and your Leaf Day is dependent on where you live. The city has an interactive map online where you can find all the information you need on the pickup schedules.


The city asks people to have their leaves raked up and along the curb ahead of time so crews can sweep them up.

That also means drivers should move their cars out of the street so scoopers and sweepers can get to the piles. In some areas vehicles will be ticketed or towed if parked on leaf pick up day.

Even as transportation crews start to pick up the piles around the city, there are still plenty of leaves still on the ground, causing clogged drains and some street flooding.

"Yeah, it can be slippier than the snow" said Tate McGovern of SE Portland, out walking his two dogs Riley and Milo, who both had rain gear on.

"They hate wearing the rain coats, but they don't make the rules. But it is is nicer now that the leaves have been cleaned up. It's a better day."

Where it is safe to do so, they are asking residents to clear the storm drains in front of their homes.

When clearing a drain, they ask that you keep these things in mind:

  • If possible, clear the drain before it starts raining.
  • Clear about 10 feet on both sides of the drain.
  • Clear from the sidewalk, not the street. Wear reflective clothing so vehicles can see you.
  • Always wear gloves and be careful of sharp objects!
  • Use a rake, shovel, or broom - not your hands.
  • Watch out for traffic. Don’t clear drains that are in the middle of a street.
  • Be careful of standing water to avoid slipping or stepping on sharp objects.
  • If children are helping, make sure adults are supervising.
  • Don’t try to lift storm drain grates. They are very heavy.
  • Let our crews handle garbage or any hazards in the catch basin. Clear surface debris only.
  • If the drain is still clogged, report it to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Maintenance Dispatch at 503-823-1700 or by emailing pdxroads@portlandoregon.gov.

PBOT helps offset the cost with an annual leaf removal fee, which ranges from $15 to $30 for homes and businesses in Street Leaf Removal Program areas. Larger properties and commercial spaces have to pay $65. Only people who pay the fee (which is tied to the water bill) are allowed to rake their leaves into the street for pickup.

Some homeowners can opt out of the pickup, however that is only if they don’t have any trees on their property along the street, or if they plan on raking and bagging the leaves themselves. The deadline to opt out in 2017 has already passed.

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