Portable storage units were illegal in Keizer until recent action by the Keizer City Council. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

Of the Keizertimes

Portable storage units will soon be legal in Keizer – for 30 days a year.

The Keizer City Council passed regulations allowing them at its February 21 meeting. The Planning Commission voted last month to allow the units up to 30 days per year. Councilors must formally approve an ordinance before the matter is final.

Such units, known by brand names like PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage) aren’t an entirely uncommon sight on Keizer streets today. Sam Litke, the city’s senior planner, said the development code simply needed to be updated.

“Because it doesn’t address (portable storage), it makes it illegal,” Litke said. “We’re trying to recognize these uses occur. it’s something technically not allowed in code, which makes for an awkward conversation.”

The units cannot be in a street or other public right-of-way (i.e. completely contained on private property) and also must be on a paved surface, like a driveway.

A proposal to allow them on some streets with the public works department’s permission was struck.

Litke explained that cars have reflective surfaces and lights that can be fairly easily spotted while driving on a public street.

“It’s clearly not vehicle shaped, it doesn’t have the reflectors on it,” Litke said. “It’s a box that’s in the road. We just felt it would be an inherent safety risk.”

That was one reason Planning Commissioner John Rizzo supported the restrictions, he said Monday night.

“Having these on the streets was an issue with me with safety … especially at night,” Rizzo said.

A month’s time seemed best to planning commissioners, Litke said.

“Thirty days seemed to the planning commission to be a reasonable amount of time to allow one of these units to show up, fill it up and schedule the pickup time,” Litke said. “It seemed, conceivably, 15 days might be pressing it for some people.”

Councilor Brandon Smith questioned why the matter was being pursued without significant resident complaints.

“It put us in kind of an untenable situation, that even though it’s a commonly-accepted practice it’s not allowed in our zoning code,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown.

Councilor Mark Caillier thought it odd that Dumpsters aren’t similarly regulated. While those large garbage bins must have a permit to be in the street, Brown said there’s no rules addressing how long those can be in driveways.

“It would seem to be a similar-sized object, and if you’ve seen my in-laws’ stuff, it could go either way,” Caillier quipped.

In other business, councilors:

• Approved recommendations for liquor licenses at 57 local establishments. The following businesses were cited for selling alcohol to minors, according to city documents:

• Albertson’s, 5450 River Road N., $990 fine paid.

• 45th Grill, 5188 Wittenberg Lane, $990 fine paid.

• Mario’s Bar, 5179 River Road N., $1,320 fine paid, ID equipment purchased

• Steam Heat Coffee House, 3860 River Road N., Ste. 101, served six-day suspension

• Town & Country Lanes, 3500 River Road N., $3,795 fine paid.

• McNary Restaurant & Lounge, 165 McNary Estates Drive N., $660.