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Chapter 17.33 Required Public Sewer Connection

City Code Chapter

(Chapter replaced by Ordinance 183397, effective January 8, 2010.)

17.33.005 Intent.

  1. A.  The intent of this Chapter is to:
    1. 1.   Facilitate timely connection of individual properties to the public sewer system when a public sanitary sewer is available;
    2. 2.  Facilitate the conversion of nonconforming private sewer systems to individual property connections along the route of service approved by the City; and
    3. 3.  Provide for financial assistance to property owners required to make a new sewer connection. 
  2. B.  The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) shall identify the most appropriate means to construct public sewer improvements to facilitate sanitary sewer connections along approved routes of service based on factors that protect public health and safety, and minimize the financial impacts on the City’s sanitary sewer utility and utility ratepayers. BES shall establish the criteria used to make system improvement decisions in administrative rules.  Unless otherwise established, BES is responsible for administering the provisions of this Chapter.

17.33.020 Definitions.

(Amended by Ordinances 185397, 186902 and 189750, effective November 29, 2019.)

  1. For the purpose of this Chapter, the following definitions and applicable definitions of Section 17.32.020 will apply:
  2. A.  “Available Public Sewer” means a public sewer that is within 100 feet or one-half block, whichever is less, of property to be served, without crossing another property to make the new connection, or such other conditions of availability as are established by administrative rule.  In cases of onsite conveyance or disposal system failure, sewer shall be deemed available if within 300 feet.
  3. B.  “Branch Sewer” means the public portion of the horizontal piping system that connect from the plumbing system of a building or buildings to a public sewer.
  4. C.  “Common Private Sewer System (also called Party Sewer)” means that portion of a building sewer that:
    1. 1.  Is not owned by the City of Portland;
    2. 2.  Is used for draining more than one building under different ownership; and
    3. 3.  Conveys the discharge to a sewer service lateral, public sewer, private sewage disposal system, or other point of disposal.
  5. Common private sewers are found on private property and in private and public rights-of-way, including easements.
  6. D.  “Connection” means the connection of all sanitary waste and drainage disposal lines from all development on a property to the public sewer and drainage system.
  7. E.  “Director” means the Director of the Bureau of Environmental Services or the Director’s designee.
  8. F.  “Immediately Available Public Sewer” means a public sewer to which a property can connect without further extension of the public system.
  9. G.  “Owner-Occupant” means an owner who uses the property as their primary residence. The individual who has the responsibility for assessments and is occupying the property will be considered the owner-occupant regardless of who holds the deed to the property. An owner who lived at the property before moving to a nursing home or similar facility is considered to be residing at the property if the property is not producing income.
  10. H.  “Nonconforming Sewer” means a private sanitary sewer that is:
    1. 1.  Not on the same public or private property as the structure or structures being served by the sewer; and
    2. 2.  Not located within a recorded sewer easement or subject to a recorded covenant for easement regarding use of the sewer and meeting the standards for easements specified in administrative rules.
  11. I.  “Onsite Sewage Disposal System” means a cesspool or the combination of a septic tank or other treatment unit and effluent sewer and absorption improvement.
  12. See Figure 13 at the end of this Title for graphical representation of these definitions.

17.33.030 Sewer Connection Mandated.

(Amended by Ordinance 185397, effective July 6, 2012.)

  1. A.  Applicability.  Properties having development that generates or may generate sanitary waste must decommission onsite sewage disposal systems and connect to the public sewer when:
    1. 1.  The development is not completely connected to a public sewer system;
    2. 2.  A public sewer is immediately available without the need for further sewer extension; and
    3. 3.  A sewer branch has been provided to curb closest to the property line or property line.
  2. B.  Timing.  Properties that meet these criteria must be connected to a public sewer within three years of when notice being sent to the property owner or legal title holder of the immediate availability of the public sewer system, the requirement to connect, and the time limit for connection.  Four additional notices of the connection requirement will be sent at least 360, 180, 90 and 30 days prior to the date of the connection deadline.
  3. C.  Location.  All connections shall be made along a route of service approved by the Director.
  4. D.   Any construction for which a building permit is required under the terms of Title 24 of this Code and which meets the requirements of Subsection A. above, shall connect to the public sewer system prior to the issuance of a final inspection report or Certificate of Occupancy by the authorized City agency.
  5. E.  Proof of the sewer connection shall be by documents of the City, by proof provided by the property owner, or development of physical evidence or inspection.  The sufficiency or adequacy of any proof presented shall be left to the sole discretion of the Director.
  6. F.   Three (3) years from notification of the requirement to connect, a property that has not connected becomes connection delinquent and is subject to proceedings to compel connection to the public sewer system.
  7. G.  When property subject to the requirement imposed by this Section is sold and has less than 180 days remaining in the three-year connection period referred to above is sold, the new owner may enter into an agreement with the City to extend the time to connect to the public sewer system for 180 days from the date of the sale of the property.  In the event a new owner elects to enter into an agreement, said election shall constitute a waiver of the right to the administrative review provided for in Section 17.33.100.  As used herein, the term “sale” includes every disposition or transfer including the transfer of equitable title or legal title to real property.

17.33.040 Mandated Sewer Service Connection Charges.

(Amended by Ordinance 185397, effective July 6, 2012.)

  1. A property owner must pay or finance sanitary sewer system development charge and, if not previously assessed, sewer line and branch charges collectively known as sewer connection charges described in Chapter 17.36 prior to the issuance of sewer connection permits.  Property owners may elect to pre-pay sewer connection charges no more than 5 years before availability of public sewer.
  2. Only one agreement per property may be entered into under the terms of this subsection.  As used herein, the term “sale” includes every disposition or transfer including the transfer of equitable title or legal title to real property.

17.33.050 Converting Nonconforming Sanitary Sewer Connections.

(Amended by Ordinance 185694, effective November 23, 2012.)

  1. A.  Applicability.  A property using a nonconforming sewer must convert to a conforming sewer connection when a public sewer is available. The new connection must be made along a route of service approved by the Director.  In addition, when a public sewer is extended into an area, the City may request that property owners in the area who are not required to connect nevertheless, volunteer to participate in the Nonconforming Sewer Conversion Program regardless of their distance from the new sewer.
  2. B.  Exemption.  The Director may exempt properties with nonconforming sewer connections from the requirement to convert to a conforming sewer connection if:
    1. 1.  The Director determines that conversion of a nonconforming connection to a conforming connection would have detrimental effects on public health or safety or the environment; or
    2. 2.  Other circumstances exist justifying exemption as identified in BES administrative rules.
  3. C.  Timing.  The City requires property owners to convert or abandon a nonconforming sanitary sewer connection within 180 days of the date on the notice of sewer availability. All individual sewer connections shall be made in conformance with the Sewer and Drainage Facilities Design Manual.  The City will provide written notice to all affected property owners at 180, 90, and 30 days prior to the conversion deadline.  The Director may choose to delay enforcement of this deadline for a property where a connection would be unreasonably technically difficult, a public sewer is not immediately available or substantial financial hardship would result.

17.33.060 Required Sanitary Sewer Conversion Charges.

(Amended by Ordinance 185694, effective November 23, 2012.) 

  1. Property owners must pay the sanitary sewer conversion charges as required by Chapter 17.36 at the time the City provides a new sewer connection or when the property owner requests a permit for a new conforming sewer connection.  A property owner can elect to pay or finance conversion charges and connection costs as required in Chapter 17.36 and associated program administrative rules.  Council adopts sanitary sewer conversion charges annually as part of the BES rate ordinance.
  2. A.   Timing.  Property owners must pay or finance sewer conversion charges prior to the issuance of permits required by Chapter 17.32.  BES will assess sewer conversion charges based on the sewer conversion rates in effect at the time of connection.
  3. B.   Relationship to Special Assessments for Local Improvement Districts.  BES will apply the following conditions to the calculation of special assessments for local improvement districts organized for the purposes of this Section:
    1. 1.   The estimated special assessment roll will be limited to the amount of the sanitary sewer conversion charges as established in the annual BES rate ordinance.
    2. 2.   In the event that a benefited property owner paid or financed branch fees or sanitary sewer conversion charges prior to the preparation of the estimated special assessment roll as provided in this Section, BES will establish a zero assessment for the benefited property.
    3. 3.   BES will pay to the LID Construction Fund the difference between the final total costs of each local improvement district organized for the purposes of this Section, and the sum of estimated assessments that were established at the formation of the district. 
    4. 4.   To the greatest extent practicable BES will refund property assessments in the event that the total actual costs of the local improvement district are less than the sum of sanitary sewer conversion charges calculated for the benefited properties, taking into account the following:
      1. a.  BES will apportion the difference to each affected property in proportion to the property’s share of the sum of sanitary sewer conversion charges paid, financed or incorporated into the local improvement district special assessment roll.
      2. b.  The final assessment roll will reflect the apportionment based on the actual project costs.
      3. c.  Where a property owner paid or financed the sanitary sewer conversion charge prior to the notice of estimated assessment, BES will determine the most administratively efficient method to refund or credit the apportioned difference allocated to the property.  Any refund or credit will be provided to the current equitable title holder of the property at the time the Council adopts the final assessment roll for the local improvement district. 

17.33.070 Deferrals of Required Sewer Connections.

(Amended by Ordinance 185694, effective November 23, 2012.) 

  1. A deferral of the requirement to connect to a public sewer may not exceed five years, although it may be renewed based on a re-evaluation of eligibility, and it does not transfer with the sale or transfer of property.  The property remains subject to the requirements of this Chapter following termination of the connection deferral.  Eligibility criteria vary for the Mandatory Sewer Connection and the Nonconforming Sewer Conversion programs.  Deferral requests will be considered on the following, as described more fully in program administrative rules:
  2. A.  Mandatory Connection.  Deferrals may be granted for the following:
    1. 1.  Applicant-based criteria.  These include financial, medical or other hardship criteria related to the property owner; and
    2. 2.  Property-related criteria.  These are based on hardship conditions related to the property and the work required to complete the sewer connection. 
  3. B.  Nonconforming Sewer Conversion. The Director may defer conversion to conforming sewer connections according to criteria established in administrative rule.

17.33.075 Financial Assistance for Required Sewer Connection.

(Amended by Ordinance 185397, effective July 6, 2012.) 

  1. The City shall provide financial assistance in the form of loans for both Mandated Sewer Connection and Nonconforming Sewer Conversion programs to eligible property owners based on administrative rules and procedures adopted by the Director.  The Director shall offer a variety of loan instruments to meet specific property owner needs.  Applicants may request financing assistance for the following costs:
  2. A.  Sewer connection work performed on private property to decommission existing onsite conveyance and disposal systems and make new approved sewer connections. 
  3. B.  Connection fees charged by the City as described in Section 17.36.040.

17.33.080 Declaration of Nuisance.

(Amended by Ordinance 186902, effective December 26, 2014.)

  1.  Any property not connected to a public sewer system as required by Section 17.33.030, Section 17.33.050, or Subsection 17.32.070 C. is hereby declared a nuisance and subject to abatement or correction as provided for in Section 17.33.100.  The Director is authorized to take steps necessary to abate such a nuisance, including abatement work in public rights-of-way or easements, authority to order remediation on private or public property, or to expend City funds to abate the nuisance.  The Director is further authorized to charge the responsible parties for all costs of the abatement effort.  The Director will establish the procedures and forms to be used to notify property owners about sewer system availability and connection delinquencies.  Costs of nuisance abatement may be assessed as a lien against property as provided in this Code.

17.33.090 Abatement by Owner.

(Amended by Ordinance 189750, effective November 29, 2019.) 

  1. The owner of a connection delinquent property shall have 20 business days from the date of the Notice to Remove Nuisance to file documentation of the removal or abatement of the nuisance or to file a written request for an administrative review of the bureau’s determination that a nuisance exists. Following notification of the administrative review and determination by the Director, the property owner may file a written request for an appeals hearing by the Code Hearings Officer as set forth in Title 22 of this Code, unless appeal is limited by administrative rule.

17.33.100 Connection Enforcement.

(Amended by Ordinances 185397, 186902 and 189750, effective November 29, 2019.)

  1. A.  The City shall attempt to resolve issues with affected property owners within BES to the extent possible.  The following enforcement steps shall be used:
    1. 1.  Administrative Review.  A property owner who receives a Notice to Remove Nuisance for a property that the City suspects is not connected to a public sewer system as required by Section 17.33.030, 17.33.050, or Subsection 17.32.070 C. of the City Code may requires an administrative review with BES staff to give the requestor the opportunity to present evidence that a nuisance does not exist and to determine if agreement can be reached concerning the timing and actions to achieve a conforming connection to the public sewer.  An effected property owner may request a modification of a BES decision related to this Chapter via an administrative review, unless administrative review is limited by administrative rule.  If an affected property owner does not pursue an administrative review within the time frame set by Section 17.33.090 of the City Code, BES shall issue its final determination setting forth the requirements and deadline to connect and finance or pay for fees.  Failure of the property owner to meet this deadline shall be deemed a violation of this Chapter.
    2. 2.  Final Determination.  The BES final determination shall be the substantive decision for City program code compliance proceedings before the City Code Hearings Officer pursuant to Title 22 of the City Code.  BES shall submit information addressing the following facts:
      1. a.  The subject property has one or more on-site structures with plumbing facilities that require sanitary waste disposal pursuant to State Plumbing Code or related City Code.
      2. b.  The subject property is not fully connected or has a nonconforming connection to the City sewer system.
      3. c.  The subject property has direct access via an intended route of service to a branch, or other component of the City sewer system abutting a property line or a permanent easement acquired for the benefit of the property.
    3. d.  The deadlines described in the sewer availability notice, notice of connection deferral and/or the Notice to Remove Nuisance have expired without full compliance with the sewer connection requirement.
    4. e.  The property owner does not have a current sewer connection deferral.
  2. B.  If the nuisance described in the notice has not been removed or information is not provided establishing that such nuisance does not exist, the City may apply for an order authorizing the City to access private or public property to abate the nuisance.  The order will include the terms and requirements for abatement by the Code Hearings Officer. The Code Hearings Officer has discretion to modify connection dates, required actions by property owners, and types and timing of City abatement activities.
    1. 1.  The City will maintain an accurate record of all expenses incurred, including an overhead charge of 26 percent, an administration fee for each occurrence as specified in the administrative rules, sewer user charges and permit fees, which shall be assessed as a lien on the property in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 22.06.
    2. 2.  It is unlawful for any person to attempt to obstruct, impede, or interfere with any officer, employee, contractor, agent, or authorized representative of the City whenever they are engaged in the work of connecting a property to the public sewer or removing or abandoning an existing sewage disposal system under an abatement order of the Code Hearings Officer.
    3. 3.  Neither the City nor any of its officers, employees, contractors, agents, or authorized representatives are liable for any damage to the real property, improvements or personal property due to the non-negligent enforcement or administration of this Chapter.
  3. C.  Except as provided elsewhere in this Title or when the public welfare is endangered; BES may at its discretion withhold any service that is provided by BES from the owner(s) (or the owner’s agent) of connection delinquent property.  This may include but is not limited to refusal to accept application for permits for development on property of the said owner(s) other than the connection delinquent property.  Withholding of other services may continue until the connection delinquency has been corrected.
  4. D.  The City may seek, in any court of competent jurisdiction, a judgment against the person or property failing to connect to a sewer in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter.  In any such action, the measure of damages shall be the costs for abatement by the City, administrative costs, permit fees, overhead costs, penalties, and connection charges as determined by the Director or Code Hearings Officer.

17.33.110 Actions before the City Code Hearings Officer.

(Amended by Ordinances 185694, 186902 and 189750, effective November 29, 2019.)

  1. A.  Code Compliance Hearings.  Any property owner who fails to comply with this Chapter or the Mandatory Sewer Connection or the Nonconforming Sewer Conversion Programs administrative rules (ENB-4.18 and ENB-4.27, respectively) may be summoned to code compliance hearing before the City Code Hearings Officer per Title 22.  The Code Hearings Officer is authorized to order compliance with City sewer connection regulations, including site entry to physically connect sewer systems.
  2. B.  Property Owner-Initiated Appeals.  A property owner may initiate an appeal to the Code Hearings Officer after exhausting administrative review of any BES decision related to this Chapter that is subject to administrative review. Availability of administrative review by BES and appeal to the Code Hearing Officer may be limited by administrative rule.

17.33.130 Notice Sufficiency.

  1. For purposes of this Chapter, notice shall be deemed to have been received upon the mailing of said notice by first class mail or upon delivery of the notice in person.  An error in the name of the owner or agent of the owner or the use of a name other than that of the true owner or agent for the property shall not render the notice void.

17.33.150 Severability.

  1. The provisions of this Chapter are severable, and it is the intention to confer the whole or any part of the powers herein provided for. If any word, definition, clause, section or provision of this Chapter shall be declared unconstitutional or invalid for any reason or cause, the remaining portion of this Chapter shall be in full force and effect and be valid as if such invalid portion thereof had not been incorporated herein. In the event a definition is held to be invalid or is severed, the defined word or term shall be deemed to have the meaning given to that word or term under Oregon law if Oregon law contains such a definition. If there is no established definition of the word or term under Oregon law, the word or term shall have its ordinary dictionary meaning. It is hereby declared to be the Council’s express legislative intent that this Chapter would have been adopted had such an unconstitutional or otherwise invalid provision not been included herein.