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Containers in the right of way

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Garbage, recycling and compost containers are not allowed to be stored on public sidewalks or streets.

Policy overview

Blue recycling carts and a dumpster on the sidewalk

Portland businesses are only allowed to have garbage, recycling and compost containers in the right-of-way (sidewalk or street) for a short period of time when the containers are emptied by their garbage company.

Containers may be placed in the right-of-way no earlier than two hours before collection and removed no later than two hours after collection.

If collection occurs after normal business hours, containers may be placed in the right-of-way at the close of business and must be removed by the start of the following business day or within 24 hours of set out, whichever occurs first.

If your business has trouble meeting these guidelines, contact your garbage and recycling company to discuss options. City staff may also be able to make recommendations.

Report an out-of-compliance business

Contact the City's Garbage and Recycling assistance staff

More about the policy

In 2008 the Portland City Council adopted changes to City Code explicitly banning the storage of waste containers in the public right of way. The purpose of this rule is to assure the right-of-way is clear and accessible to everyone, including individuals using wheelchairs or strollers.

Administrative Rules specify the requirements and enforcement of these restrictions:

  • Containers currently placed in the right-of-way will be enforced by Bureau of Planning and Sustainability with an emphasis on assistance to achieve compliance.
  • Businesses and waste hauling companies are prohibited from placing new containers in the right-of-way for permanent storage.
  • Business or property owners who are in violation of the prohibition but cannot comply without incurring an extreme economic hardship can apply for a limited term exemption to gain additional time to achieve compliance.
  • New commercial buildings and major alterations will be required to provide sufficient space for on-site collection and storage of garbage and recycling.  

Minimum storage space requirements

During the application for a permit allowing construction or major alteration of a commercial or mixed-use building, on-site storage space for garbage, recycling and food waste containers must be identified. Administrative Rules specify the minimum amount of square footage that must be designated for container storage, based on occupant load and building usage.

Other authorities may have additional requirements concerning container storage areas, e.g. Bureau of Environmental Services, Fire Marshal, etc. City of Portland Permitting Services (503-823-7357) provides information about permitting and other regulations affecting the construction of interior or exterior storage areas.