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Containers in the Right-of-Way

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A photo shows a street view of a business's small parking lot. A dumpster and two recycling carts are shown in the parking lot, with an arrow pointing to them having moved to the street for collection and another arrow showing them moved back to the parking lot. Next to the image of them on the street is a 24/7 sign with a red x over it.
Garbage, recycling and compost containers are not allowed to be stored on public sidewalks or streets.
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Policy overview

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

The right-of-way includes sidewalks, streets, public parking spots, and the area between the sidewalk and street.

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.

The purpose of this policy, which was adopted by City Council in 2008, is to assure the right-of-way is clear and accessible to everyone, including individuals using wheelchairs or strollers.

Common solutions

Many businesses have been able to move containers out of the right-of-way by choosing one of these options:

Switch to smaller waste containers. Switching from dumpsters or large roll carts to multiple small roll carts may provide more flexibility.

Small carts are easier to move, fit into smaller spaces, and fit through a door if you need to store them inside your building.

Smaller containers may require more frequent pickup from your garbage company. Talk with your garbage and recycling company about pickup options and costs.

Share the cost of service with a nearby business that has room to store bins. 

Work with a nearby parking lot to pay for a spot to store bins. 

Store bins inside. Storing waste bins inside is allowed by the Multnomah County Health Department as long as the bins are kept clean to avoid pests.

Assistance

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. 

If creating or paying for storage space for your waste containers would cause extreme economic hardship, you can apply for a limited-term exemption: Contact city staff for more information.

Penalties

Businesses found in violation of the policy will receive a written warning from the City of Portland.

If the business does not come into compliance, fines for each container in the right-of-way are $200 for the first month, $400 for the second month, and $600 for every month after.

Report an out-of-compliance business

Contact the City's Garbage and Recycling staff

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 provides information about permitting and other regulations affecting the construction of interior or exterior storage areas.

Learn more

Find more details about the ban at Portland City Code 17.102.290 Storing Solid Waste, Recycling or Compostable Containers in the Right of Way Prohibited.