Portland Company Allegedly Overcharged Businesses to Board Up Broken Windows, City Shrugged

AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus

This is a very Portland problem. The city, as most people know, has a large number of anarchist goons who enjoy breaking windows in their spare time. Often the vandalism is discovered by police late at night or early in the morning. So the city had a contract with a company which operated as 1-800 BOARDUP. If the business owner isn't on site or can't be reached, police could call that number and the company would sent someone out to put up plywood


Under the contract, 911 dispatchers call in the board-up company at the request of police when an owner isn’t available or can’t do the work themselves, according to the ombudsman.

The contractor, available around the clock, is supposed to send an invoice to the Portland Police Bureau’s fiscal division. The city then compensates the contractor and bills the property owner, including a 15% administrative fee.

That's how it was supposed to work. The contractor bills the city and then the city bills the business. But after one business owner got a bill for $541 directly from the company they complained to the city. That complaint led to an investigation by the city ombudsman who found the company had been directly billing, and allegedly overbilling, companies routinely.

The city’s contract with 1-800-BoardUp included discounted materials costs that the city passed on to business owners, meaning invoices from the city would be cheaper than invoices directly billed to business owners from the contractor. 

But many times, that billing process wasn’t followed, and 1-800-BoardUp billed clients directly, at an inflated rate.

“Specifically, the Contractor was directly billing and overcharging community members for City-initiated emergency board-up requests, in violation of its City contract, and the City was not providing sufficient oversight of the contract,” the report notes...

In some cases, 1-800-BoardUp would tell businesses that it was cheaper to pay them directly, rather than pay the city’s 15 percent administrative fee. Police also repeated that false information to business owners. It’s unclear whether BoardUp staff or police knew they were misinforming businesses, but the ombudsman’s report notes that 61 percent of BOEC dispatch calls for board up services weren’t invoiced to the city and at least 39 percent of calls reflected in police reports weren’t billed to the city as required.


The company claims there are actually two different contracts in place, one of which allows them to bill the companies directly. But the City Attorney reportedly looked at the contract and said that's not so. All invoices are supposed to be submitted to the city within 90 days.

The ombudsman determined the company had billed businesses directly nearly 1,000 times, allegedly pulling in tens of thousands of dollars in extra fees. The ombudsman's report was issued last July with recommendations that the city audit the contractor and seek restitution for billing above the levels specified in the contract.

In a joint response, Mayor Ted Wheeler, City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez and the city’s public safety bureaus that use the emergency service said they’re committed to fixing the problem and following the recommendations.

“The collective goal of the City’s emergency board-up services is to ensure the safety and security of businesses, staff and patrons,” they said in a statement.

What has happened since? Very little it turns out. The city ombudsman wrote a letter complaining that no one seems to have followed through on the recommendations everyone agreed to follow 10 months ago.

In the letter, publicly released Tuesday, Portland City Ombudsman Jennifer Croft wrote to Community Safety Division Director Mike Myers on May 20, saying the city failed to make the changes her office recommended back in July 2023 after city contractor 1-800 BOARDUP overcharged Portland property and business owners for police-initiated board-ups of vandalized windows or doors.

Despite Myers agreeing with the recommendations and committing to implementing them in a timely manner, Croft claimed the city has not taken some of the recommended actions in the 10 months since the report was released...

The Ombudsman’s letter said the city’s failure to fix its invoice practices “is hard to understand when both the contract and the Police Directive specify the required billing process, which mandates that the contractor invoice the City, and our investigation uncovered undisputed instances when the process was not followed.”

“As a result of the lack of action, neither the City nor contractor have accounted for past harm done to community members who were wrongfully charged,” the Ombudsman furthered.


It's bad enough that the city won't crack down on the antifa goons and criminals doing the damage. But allowing the company that boards up victimized businesses to (allegedly) overcharge for years and then refusing to do anything about it seems like adding insult to injury. How anyone manages to keep a business running in Portland is a mystery.

Here's a local news report from last July.

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