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Portland Wants Your Rundown RV

The Portland Bureau of Transportation says 17 people have signed up for the city’s first free RV disposal day.

The city is covering the cost of demolishing the donated vehicles, which can run up $1,500 per vehicle, in an effort to reduce the number of leaking and hazardous RVs that are abandoned or lived in on Portland’s streets.

The city has the capacity and funding to collect up to 28 unwanted RVs. Owners of unwanted RVs have until the end of the day Friday to make an appointment online.

“The community has told us loud and clear that they are fed up with derelict and hazardous RVs on our streets,” says PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera. “We are hoping to get vehicles that are no longer desired for habitation, and that we can take and properly dispose of.”

The disposal day will take place Sunday at the Portland International Raceway. The bureau can only take vehicles if the owners are present to sign over the title, among other requirements.

The take-back day is part of a suite of policies the city has adopted this year in response to an increasing number of citizen complaints of RVs parked on the street.  

Earlier this month, the city council voted to make it illegal to sell or give away RVs with leaky fuel and wastewater systems.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has also changed its towing policies.

Tow companies used to pay the city for the opportunity to impound vehicles, including RVs. But that proved problematic, Rivera says, because unlike abandoned cars, most RVs had little value as resale or scrap.  

“We really had a broken business model for abandoned and hazardous RVs, up until February of this year,” he said.

In Feburary, at Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s direction, the Bureau of Transportation started paying tow companies $250 to take vehicles that were deemed abandoned or hazardous to the city’s impound lot. Tow companies make another $250 for vehicles that were taken to be demolished.  

The city estimates that up to 750 people without homes are living in RVs.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation deals only with vehicles that are deemed abandoned in the public right of way.

RVs that are parked on the street and occupied can be towed through a program called Community Caretaking, if the Portland Police Bureau deems them an immediate risk to public safety.

That program has received criticism from advocates for Portland’s homeless, who worry that people are being evicted from their vehicles without adequate safeguards.

The city has defended it as a necessary tool to deal with RVs that are leaking sewage and in some cases catching fire.

According to PBOT officials, the city has towed about 300 RVs so far this year. Of those, 100 were occupied and towed under the Community Caretaking program.

PBOT estimates it will spend $1.3 to $1.8 million on its RV towing program in the 2017-2018 fiscal year — a near 10 fold increase in spending over last year.

Increased costs include the payments to tow companies and 5 new hires who are focused on tracking and ticketing abandoned RVs.

In a separate move, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees Portland’s code enforcement bureau, has announced that people will not be cited by the city for living in RVs that are parked on private land with the owner’s permission.

Copyright 2020 EarthFix. To see more, visit .

Amelia Templeton is a multimedia reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, covering Portland city hall, justice and local news. She was previously a reporter for EarthFix, an award-winning public media project covering the environment in the Northwest.