Utility Vault Permitting and Leasing for Development

Multiple sizes of utility vaults set into the sidewalk corridor.  There is also a bike rack, street tree, and utility pole.
Process of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) for reviewing potential electric utility vaults (UV) or structures for the benefit of the adjacent property owner within the public ROW.
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Where can I place a Utility Vault?

Electric transformers and structures for the benefit of private property owners should be located on private property.  Examples of possible locations are inside the building, courtyards, plazas, required setbacks or parking areas. Contact your utility provider early to identify the building’s utility needs and to identify a suitable location on private property that meets their requirements (and City requirements). If no on-site location is possible, an appropriate location within the public ROW will be considered by exception only.  The applicant should contact the utility providers to identify a feasible location for the necessary utility structure. 

What is the review process?

PBOT has developed a process for requesting an exception to place utility vaults (UV) or structures for the benefit of the adjacent property owner within the public ROW.  (Administrative Rule TRN 8.13

Initial Submittal. Prior to submitting for a Design Exception, the applicant must submit a letter to PBOT Development Review (land use or building permit review) from a registered professional engineer to document that there is no viable location on private property to place the infrastructure in question (see TRN 8.13 for additional submittal details).

Once confirmed by PBOT, the applicant must initiate the design exception process by submitting a utility plan concept review as part of a land use application or building permit application.  If a land use action is needed, PBOT requires the UV request be submitted no later than the time of land use application submittal.  The concept plan should be included with the land use application materials submitted to the Bureau of Development Services.  The UV request must be conceptually approved prior to PBOT supporting the land use review.  If there is no land use decision required, then PBOT recommends submittal of the UV request with the building permit application.  The utility plan should be included with the building permit materials submitted to the Bureau of Development Services.

Please allow a minimum of 2 weeks for the initial review of concept plans.  Complex sites may take additional time.

What information does a Utility Plan need to show?

The applicant must submit a concept Utility Plan that includes the information listen in Section III of TRN 8.13 (refer to the rule for detailed instructions):

  • Professional Engineer Confirmation
  • Utility Site Plan
  • Vault or Structure Specifics
  • Utility Contact List

For an example, please download the Concept Utility Plan Example.

For information on the Utility Plan Review process the applicant is advised to contact pbotutilitypermits@portlandoregon.gov

Leases are required for exclusive use utility vaults in the public right-of-way.

All new applications for building permits with designs that propose to locate utility vaults or structures within the right-of-way will need to enter into a lease with the City of Portland.  The lease preparation will take approximately 4 weeks and will be required to be completed prior to PBOT approval of the building permit. 

Additional information on leasing requirements can be found at Leasing the Public Right-of-Way: Utility Vaults. 

Information on the annual cost of rent can be found in the “Public Right-of-Way Use Permits- Long Term” section of the Fee schedule Exhibit C.