Chapter 11.05 Legal Frameworks and Relationships

City Code Chapter

11.05.010 Purpose.

(Amended by Ordinance 191030, effective November 11, 2022.) 

  1. A. The Tree Code is one of the implementation measures of the Urban Forest Plan. Together with education and other initiatives, these regulations protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of Portland and are consistent with other plans and policies of the City. In so doing, the appearance of the City is enhanced and important ecological, cultural, and economic resources are protected for the benefit of the City’s residents and visitors.
  2. B. Trees are a fundamental component of the City’s green infrastructure. The chapters within this Title address trees in both development and non-development situations and seek to enhance the quality of the urban forest and optimize the benefits that trees provide. Desired tree benefits include:
    1. 1. Providing oxygen and capturing air pollutants and carbon dioxide;
    2. 2. Maintaining slope stability and preventing erosion;
    3. 3. Filtering stormwater and reducing stormwater runoff;
    4. 4. Reducing energy demand and urban heat island through shading of buildings and impervious areas;
    5. 5. Providing visual screening and buffering from wind, storms and noise;
    6. 6. Sustaining habitat for birds and other wildlife;
    7. 7. Providing a source of food for wildlife and people;
    8. 8. Maintaining property values and the beauty, character and natural heritage of the City; and
    9. 9. Meeting the multi-purposed objectives of the Urban Forest Plan, including reaching and sustaining canopy targets for various urban land environments.

11.05.020 Official Name.

  1. The official name of this Title is "Title 11 Trees" and it may be referred to as "Title 11" or the "Tree Code".

11.05.030 Authority.

  1. The regulations of this Title are adopted under the City’s police power to regulate to protect the public health, safety and welfare.
  2. Pursuant to Section 2-104 of the City Charter, the City Council confers its non-legislative functions as described herein to the City Forester and Director of the Bureau of Development Services to administer and enforce this Title.

11.05.040 Where This Title Applies.

  1. A.  In City of Portland. This Title applies to all trees within the City of Portland.
  2. B.  County Urban Pocket Areas. Trees in the "County Urban Pocket Areas" are subject to only some of the regulations of this Title. The County Urban Pocket Areas are areas outside the City of Portland where the Portland Zoning Code and other Portland regulations are administered.
    1. 1.  Trees in the County Urban Pocket Areas are subject to the regulations of:
      1. a.  Chapter 11.05 Legal Frameworks and Relationships
      2. b.  Chapter 11.10 Administration of this Title
      3. c.  Chapter 11.15 Funds and Contributions
      4. d.  Chapter 11.80 Definitions and Measurements
    2. 2.  Trees in the County Urban Pocket Areas are exempt from the regulations of:
      1. a.  Chapter 11.20 Urban Forestry Program
      2. b.  Chapter 11.30 Tree Permit Procedures
      3. c.  Chapter 11.40 Tree Permit Requirements (No Associated Development)
      4. d.  Chapter 11.45 Programmatic Tree Permits
    3. 3.  Trees in the County Urban Pocket Areas are subject to some of the regulations of the following chapters. Each of these chapters specifies which sections apply to the County Urban Pocket Areas:
      1. a.  Chapter 11.50 Trees in Development Situations
      2. b.  Chapter 11.60 Technical Specifications
      3. c.  Chapter 11.70 Enforcement
  3. C.  State or Federal jurisdiction. Trees within public rights-of-way that are managed by the State of Oregon are exempt from the regulations of this Title. Trees located on lands or within utility corridor easements that are owned by State or Federal agencies are also exempt from the regulations in this Title. However, these trees may be subject to other City regulations or Intergovernmental Agreements. Furthermore, the City retains summary abatement authority for nuisances posing an immediate threat to public safety.
  4. D.  Trees in containers. Trees placed in above-ground containers are exempt from the requirements of this Title.

11.05.050 Other City, Regional, State and Federal Regulations.

(Amended by Ordinance 191030, effective November 11, 2022.) 

  1. A. Relationship to Title 33 Planning and Zoning.
    1. 1. Generally. The regulations of Title 33 shall be met in addition to the regulations of this Title, unless otherwise specified in a condition of land use approval;
    2. 2. Conditions of approval. Conditions of approval attached to a land use review shall be met unless they have expired as specified in Title 33 Planning and Zoning.
  2. B. Relationship to other City, Regional, State and Federal regulations.
    1. 1. Compliance required. In addition to the requirements of this Title and Title 33 Planning and Zoning, tree removal and planting actions shall comply with all other City, regional, state, and federal regulations, including the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Compliance with Title 11 does not in any way imply, either directly or indirectly, compliance with any other law. Where the provisions of this Title conflict with those set forth in other regulations under the City Code or ordinance, the more restrictive requirement will prevail. When both provisions are equally restrictive, the most recently adopted requirement will prevail, except in matters affecting public safety.
    2. 2. References to other regulations. References in the tree code to other City, regional, state, or federal regulations do not constitute a complete list of such regulations. These references do not imply any responsibility by the City for enforcement of regional, state or federal regulations.
    3. 3. Current versions and citations. All references to other City, regional, state or federal regulations in the Tree Code refer to the most current version and citation for those regulations, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Where the referenced regulations have been repealed, requirements to comply with those regulations are no longer in effect. Where the citation for the referenced regulation has been renumbered, the regulation continues to apply.
    4. 4. City guidelines and policy documents. City, Street, or Private Trees may be subject to policy, design, or other guidance documents adopted in compliance with City Code. In these cases, the City Forester shall adhere to these documents insofar as they do not conflict with the requirements of this Title. In cases of such conflict, the City Forester may require an alternative that is consistent with this Title and that reasonably satisfies the overall objectives of the policy or guidance document.

11.05.100 Severability.

  1. If any provision of this Title, or its application to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, unlawful or invalid as applied, the remainder of this Title, shall not be affected, and shall continue, insofar as possible, in full force and effect. In the case where a provision is held to be unconstitutional, unlawful or invalid as applied, its application to other persons or in other circumstances, shall not be affected, and shall continue, insofar as possible, in full force and effect. To that end, the provisions of this Title are declared to be severable.

11.05.110 Liability.

(Amended by Ordinance 188647, effective November 17, 2017.)

  1. A.  Nothing in this Title will be deemed to impose any liability upon any member of City Council or the City or any of its officers or employees.
  2. B.  Every property owner shall be liable to persons injured or otherwise damaged by reason of the property owner’s failure to keep the private property, sidewalks, planting strips and trees fronting or upon such private property in a safe condition so as not to be hazardous to public travel.
  3. C.  Furthermore, every property owner shall be liable to the City of Portland for all expenses, including attorney fees, incurred by the City in defense of or paid by the City in settlement or satisfaction of any claim, demand, action or suit brought by reason of that property owner’s failure to satisfy the obligations imposed by this Title.