The City of Portland is developing proposals to address tree preservation during development activities.
How to share your views on the proposed updates
It is widely recognized that urban trees make vital contributions to the environment and human health, while lessening the adverse effects of climate change. In 2011, Portland adopted its first unified Tree Code to regulate the preservation, removal, planting and pruning of trees. The Tree Code took effect in 2015.
Current requirements in the City of Portland
Portland currently requires that, excluding trees that are identified as a nuisance species, at least one-third of all healthy trees on private property be preserved during development situations, or a fee must be paid. The fee goes to the Tree Planting and Preservation Fund that is administered by the City to plant and preserve trees in other locations.
All trees 36 inches in diameter at breast height (dbh) and larger must be preserved or fees are assessed. In addition, for trees over 36 inches, fees are calculated on an inch-by-inch basis for the removal of such a large tree. There are some exemptions to tree preservation requirements that apply to certain industrial and commercial zones.
Concerns about large tree removal
In 2019, public concern about the removal of large trees led to recommendations by the Planning and Sustainability Commission and the Urban Forestry Commission to further strengthen tree preservation by removing the industrial and commercial zone exemptions for private trees and trees on city-owned sites. The Urban Forestry Commission also recommended decreasing the key threshold for removal of larger trees on private property from 36 inches to 20 inches dbh.
The Portland City Council directed the Bureau of Development Services, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, and Portland Parks and Recreation to develop proposals addressing these recommendations.
Tree code project proposals
These three bureaus are developing proposals addressing:
Removal of exemptions from tree preservation and planting requirements for trees on private lands and city-owned and managed property in the relevant industrial or commercial zones. Here is a map of the areas that would be affected by this amendment.
Reduction of tree size threshold for required tree preservation or fee-in-lieu of preservation; and “inch-per-inch” fee in lieu of preservation for trees on private lands from 36 inches to 20 inches dbh. This amendment would apply in all areas of the city when tree preservation is required.