Portland Bureau of Transportation

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (or PBOT) is the agency tasked with maintaining the city of Portland's transportation infrastructure. Bureau staff plan, build, manage and maintain a transportation system with the goal of providing people and businesses access and mobility. The Bureau received significant media coverage in 2017 for employee hazing within its maintenance operations.

Portland Bureau of Transportation
Seal of Portland, Oregon.svg
Agency overview
JurisdictionPortland, Oregon
HeadquartersPortland, Oregon
Employeesover 900 (As of January 2020)[1]
Annual budget$500 million (As of January 2020)[1]
Agency executive
  • Chris Warner, Interim Director


The mayor assigns a city commissioner to be commissioner in charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. The commissioner in charge appoints a director, who leads the Bureau in its day-to-day business.

In June 2013 Mayor Charlie Hales appointed Steve Novick commissioner in charge.[2] Novick appointed Leah Treat director in July 2013 following a nationwide search. She replaced Interim Director Toby Widmer, who had been appointed following the resignation of former Director Tom Miller.[3] Interim director Chris Warner replaced Leah Treat in July 2018 after Treat's resignation.[4][5]

According to the most recent budget,[6] the Bureau is led by the Office of the Director, which directly oversees communication and six division managers as follows:

  • Development Services and Streetcar
  • Planning and Capital Services
  • System Management (Parking Enforcement, Parking Operations, Parking Garages, Active Transportation, Traffic District Operations, Traffic Design and Regulatory Operations)
  • Business Services (Finance and Accounting, Asset Management, Business Technology, Employee Services, Administrative Services)
  • Engineering and Technical Services (Civil Design, Bridges and Structures, Survey, Construction Inspection and Pavement, and Signals and Street Lights)
  • Maintenance Operations (Construction and Operations, Environmental System and Street Systems)

The City Auditor ombudsman's office which takes in complaints from the general public concerning city bureaus reported in its 2018 annual report that they routinely receive the most complaints about PBOT. They concluded that "several of our complaint investigations found structural unfairness within transportation programs, requiring reform." [7] Sidewalk and vehicle towing concerns represented the greatest number of complaints made with the ombudsman's office about PBOT in 2001.[8]

Maintenance operationsEdit

PBOT bucket truck at SE 11th and SE Hawthorne Blvd

2016 hazing incidentEdit

In May 2017, Willamette Week first reported PBOT's maintenance leader had subjected subordinates to various forms of hazing, such as shooting BBs and popcorn kernels at them.[9] The report obtained by the paper which was based on interviews with nine employees characterized the workplace culture at PBOT maintenance shop as a place of "violence, hazing and bigotry inside a shop that prizes loyalty and punishes "snitching."[9] The investigation was focused around a longtime city employee Jerry Munson who was the crew leader for the "liner crew" maintenance branch. After learning of hazing, city officials transferred the "ring leader" and terminated one of the whistleblowers.[10][11] An internal investigation of the agency later yielded a pattern of "workplace harassment, intimidation, discrimination, dishonesty, retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation and physical violence".[12] One victim, Adam Rawlins, said that between Augusts 2016 and December 2016, he had been subject to numerous pranks by other employees while he was working at PBOT. His lawsuit, which sought $250,000, indicated that pranks included "being locked in a dark shed while being bound with duct tape and zip ties."[13][14] The city settled with Rawlins for $80,000 citing "risk the city may be found liable."[14]

Parking Enforcement DivisionEdit

The parking enforcement division under PBOT enforces city's parking regulations per title 16 chapter 16.10 of city code.[15] A consultant report obtained by The Oregonian reported Parking Enforcement Division's method is "unprofessional and leaves room for “favoritism” and “illegal conduct"[16]

2014 abandoned auto scrapping scandalEdit

A PBOT Parking Enforcement Division parking enforcement officer Barbara Lorraine Peterson, a special police officer[17] was convicted of official misconduct in May 2014 for her role in tipping off and accepting kickback for each vehicle tagged as abandoned to illegal tow truck operators whom in turn took them to a crushing yard.[18] This followed an investigation into auto theft.[19] It was found that more than three dozen vehicle owners were victims of illegal scrapping operation in which Peterson had a role. Under standard procedures, vehicles identified as abandoned are tagged, and the owners are given 72 hours to take care of it. Instead, a PBOT parking enforcement officer was tipping off rogue tow truck drivers soon after they were tagged and they took them to a crushing yard before 72 hours had elapsed. The officer in question received a kickback from the tow truck operators for each vehicle she tipped off.[18]

Planning and Capital ServicesEdit

The Oregonian reports PBOT's then director Leah Treat signed off on hiring Millicent Williams, a candidate with felony conviction for her role in diverting funds from a non-profit she was leading. She started with a salary of $112,000 in January, 2017.[20] Williams plead guilty for "diverting $100,000 intended for youth programs to pay for a 2009 inaugural ball."[21]


Historical budgetEdit

The bureau's total FY 2016-17 Adopted Budget is $376.0 million. Of that amount, the Capital Improvement Plan for FY 2016-17 totals $91.1 million[22] During FY 2014–15, the Bureau employed 749 staff members.[6] The managed assets totaled $8.4 billion in public assets from streets and bridges to traffic signals and street lights at the time Asset Status and Condition Report 2013 was published[23]

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has a roughly $309 million budget for FY 2014–15. The bulk of the money comes from year-to year carryover ($59 million), bonds and notes proceeds ($51 million), gas taxes ($62.7 million), contracts with other city agencies ($30.7 million), fees for permits and other services ($27.1 million) and parking meters ($25.4 million). Remaining sources included parking garages, the city's general fund, parking citations and local parking permits.[6]

The budget is then split into two categories: discretionary and restricted. Nearly two-thirds of the budget falls in the restricted category, meaning the Bureau must follow certain spending guidelines depending on where the money comes from.[24]

The Bureau's FY 2014–15 discretionary budget is $108.3 million in all. It was spent as follows: Operations ($28 million), maintenance ($27.9 million), overhead and administration ($14.5 million) and construction projects (11.3 million). Another $26 million was spent on various bureau programs, contingencies and reserves.[6][24]

Renewable energy fundingEdit

The City of Portland pays $119,000 per month until late 2020 to cover for SoloPower's default on a loan the City guaranteed under Mayor Sam Adams in 2011. The money is taken out of Portland's Bureau of Transportation.[25][26] The Bureau of Transportation pays because parking-meter revenue was used as guaranty.[27]

Statistics and assetsEdit

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is responsible for:[23]

  • 4,842 lane miles of streets
  • 2,520 miles of sidewalks
  • 922 signalized traffic intersections
  • 55,477 street lights (City owns them all, but operates only 11,284 of them.)
  • 157 bridges
  • 26 miles of roadside barriers
  • 1753 parking meters (410 single meters, 1,343 pay stations)
  • Six parking garages
  • 331 miles of bike lanes

The Bureau also owns the Portland Streetcar and the Portland Aerial Tram, though they are operated by Portland Streetcar Inc. and the Oregon Health & Science University respectively.[28][29]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Director's Biography | Director's Team | The City of Portland, Oregon". www.portlandoregon.gov. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
  2. ^ Kost, Ryan (June 4, 2013). "Mayor Charlie Hales assigns city bureaus, scrambles them". The Oregonian. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  3. ^ Schmidt, Brad (June 18, 2013). "Leah Treat, a cyclist with big-city credentials, to lead Portland's Bureau of Transportation". The Oregonian. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  4. ^ "Interim Director's Biography | Director's Team | The City of Portland, Oregon". www.portlandoregon.gov. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  5. ^ "PBOT director resigning to take new job". KOIN. Associated Press. 2018-05-14. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  6. ^ a b c d Portland Bureau Of Transportation. "FY 2014–15 Adopted Budget". Portland Bureau of Transportation. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  7. ^ "2018 Ombudsman Annual Report". City of Portland - Office of Auditor. 2018.
  8. ^ Reif, Linda C. (2013-12-19). The ombudsman, good governance, and the international human rights system. Dordrecht. p. 93. ISBN 9789401759328. OCLC 891660799.
  9. ^ a b "Portland City Employees were Subjected to Hazing, Violence and Bigotry. Senior Officials Shrugged". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  10. ^ Pignataro, Juliana Rose (May 31, 2017). "City Employees In Portland Subjected To Hazing, Racism, Violence, Humiliation At Work: Report". International Business Times. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  11. ^ "Portland Transportation Bureau had poor workplace culture". AP NEWS. 2017-11-29. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  12. ^ Wallace, Chris (June 2, 2017). "PBOT hazing, bullying to be investigated". KGW. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  13. ^ "Portland city employee cites hazing in $250,000 lawsuit". The Associated Press. 2018-09-01. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  14. ^ a b "Portland to settle 'extreme hazing' lawsuit for $80,000". The Associated Press. 2019-07-29. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  15. ^ "City of Portland PBOT". Archived from the original on January 10, 2019.
  16. ^ Oregonian/OregonLive, Gordon R. Friedman | The (2019-08-24). "Portland parking enforcement open to 'favoritism' and 'illegal conduct,' review finds". oregonlive. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  17. ^ "Parking Enforcement | The City of Portland, Oregon". www.portlandoregon.gov. Retrieved 2020-11-04. The duties of the position of parking code enforcement officer are to provide assistance as special police officers in the enforcement of parking regulations as provided by Portland Title 16 chapter 16.10
  18. ^ a b Bernstein, Maxine (2014-05-17). "Portland city employee pleads guilty to official misconduct in auto-theft case". oregonlive. Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  19. ^ Bernstein, Maxine (2014-04-24). "Portland city employee arrested, accused of funneling abandoned cars to alleged chop shop". oregonlive. Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  20. ^ Njus, Elliot (2016-12-30). "Portland transportation bureau hires manager convicted of felony tied to corruption probe". oregonlive. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  21. ^ Stewart, Nikita (February 22, 2013). "Former D.C. security chief pleads guilty". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  22. ^ PBOT. "PBOT FY 2016-17 Adopted Budget".
  23. ^ a b Portland Bureau of Transportation. "2013 Asset Status and Condition Report". Portland Bureau of Transportation. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  24. ^ a b Portland Bureau of Transportation. "Where the Money Comes From, Where the Money Goes". Portland Bureau of Transportation. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  25. ^ Jessica Floum (15 June 2017). "Portland to foot SoloPower's bill after company defaults on $10 million loan". The Oregonian. Retrieved 29 November 2018. Portland will now have to make $119,000 monthly payments toward the company's debt through October 2020 because former Mayor Sam Adams agreed in 2011 to guarantee $5 million of the state loan. The money will come from Portland's Bureau of Transportation
  26. ^ "Taxpayer dollars heaped on SoloPower problem". East Oregonian. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018. Portland was on the hook for its $5 million to the state. It will be paying that off until October 2020.
  27. ^ Beth Slovic (30 March 2012). "Mayor Sam Adams praised 'unusual' financing on SoloPower, model now for Columbia Biogas: Portland City Hall roundup". The Oregonian. Retrieved 29 November 2018. Adams praised city officials, including Transportation Bureau Director Tom Miller, for using the same parking-meter mechanism to backstop the financing for SoloPower's new plant in Portland. "The Portland Bureau of Transportation was very flexible and willing to be a partner on this unusual backstop," Adams said
  28. ^ Rose, Joe (September 21, 2012). "Portland Streetcar's eastside loop gets off to hobbled start Saturday". The Oregonian. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  29. ^ Oregon Health & Science University. "Portland Aerial Tram". Oregon Health & Science University. Retrieved 11 August 2014.

External linksEdit