Share your Views on a Draft Proposal for Updates to Portland’s Tree Code

News Article

Update, July 28: The online forum has been extended through Monday, Aug. 3, 2020.

You are invited to review a draft staff proposal and participate in an online forum, beginning Wednesday, July 15, to offer your views to further improve Portland’s tree preservation requirements. (The online forum closed on Aug. 3, 2020.)

Portland’s first comprehensive tree code took effect in 2015. This code governs the preservation, removal, planting and pruning of trees. It currently requires that in most cases, when new development on private property occurs, at least one-third of the healthy trees on a development site must be preserved, or a fee must be paid to mitigate for the loss of the trees.

However, trees located in certain types of industrial and commercial zones are not required to be preserved when development occurs, and this is a source of concern for many individuals.

The tree code also requires that all trees with diameters of 36 inches or larger, in any private development situation, must be preserved or a larger fee must be paid in lieu of the tree’s preservation than is required for smaller diameter trees. The amount of the fee for 36-inch diameter trees and larger increases for every inch of the diameter of the tree, known as an inch-per-inch fee.

Last January the Portland City Council, in response to recommendations made by the Planning and Sustainability Commission and the Urban Forestry Commission, directed staff to evaluate the removal of current tree preservation and planting exemptions for development in four industrial, commercial and employment zoning designations. The City Council also asked staff to look at reducing, from 36 inches to 20 inches, the threshold at which the inch-per-inch fee increase begins, for tree preservation in development situations on privately-owned sites.

A draft staff proposal was released today from the Bureau of Development Services, together with the Urban Forestry Division of Portland Parks & Recreation, and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. This draft proposal is to:

  • Remove the exemptions on tree preservation for general industrial 1 (IG1), central employment (EX) and central commercial (CX) zones
  • Retain the tree preservation and tree density exemptions in areas zoned as heavy industrial (IH)
  • Reduce the threshold from 36 inches to 20 inches in diameter at which inch-per-inch fees in lieu of tree preservation begin, for development of privately-owned sites.

The public is invited to review the draft proposal and provide comments through an online workshop available from Wednesday, July 15, through Monday, Aug. 3. Comments received through the workshop will inform a revised staff proposal that will be presented to the Urban Forestry Commission and the Planning and Sustainability Commission in September. The two commissions will provide recommendations that will be considered by the City Council in October.

Further information on the development of a revised tree code proposal can be found on the city’s website here. Written comments on the current draft of the staff proposal can be submitted through the online forum or to Emily Sandy by Wednesday, Aug. 5.