The most subtle but potentially widest-reaching new law concerns so-called Trip Permits. Under Oregon law, drivers may apply for a temporary license for their vehicle; the permits may last as long as 90 days. These are the white cardboard placards with dates scribbled in black and taped to the rear windows of thousands of cars in Portland. For years, Trip Permits have been used as a loophole to avoid the costly repairs that bring vehicles within emissions requirements. Unlike license renewals, Trip Permits do not require a vehicle to pass DEQ emission tests.
Under the new law, drivers will be allowed to only apply for two 21-day permits in any given year; this means that drivers cannot perpetually avoid emissions requirements. Although the new law will strengthen the enforcement of environmental protections, it will unevenly impact low-income drivers who cannot afford to pay for repairs to catalytic converters and emission pipes to bring their vehicles into compliance.
Portland--and most cities around Oregon--will also be installing cameras to monitor certain traffic signals. These cameras have been in operation for the past two years in Beaverton as part of a pilot project. Although those cameras have committed several high-profile bungles--like snapping photos of drivers who were not running lights--the state legislature green-lighted a law allowing the majority of cities in Oregon to install Photo Red Lights. Since November, three cameras have been in operation in Portland; two more will be installed this January--all in Northeast neighborhoods.
The state legislature also bumped up fines on several violations: Drivers failing to yield the right-of-way on roundabouts like those along NE 39th and through SE Portland will be ticketed $150.