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Do I Need a Permit?

What is a Street Tree? How can I find out if a tree is a private tree or street tree? What is a development permit, what is a non-development permit? Get more information on types of permits or move forward with an application. Report a tree emergency or issue a complaint about a tree.

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Important Definitions 

What is a Street Trees Versus Private Tree?

These types of trees are regulated with differing codes and standards, so it is important to start by understanding the difference.

  • Street Trees

Any tree that is growing in the City's public area near the street, called the right-of-way (ROW) is a Street Tree. 

picture of trees in ROW
Example of Street Trees
  • Care and maintenance of Street Trees in the right-of-way is the responsibility of the adjacent (or bordering) property owner. 
  • The right-of-way can be with or without a sidewalk, the trees below are still street trees.
    • More Terms: An "unimproved" right-of-way does not have a sidewalk, as opposed to an "improved" one. 
unimproved ROW trees
Example of unimproved right-of-way Street Trees
  • The configuration of theright-of-way sizing variesdepending on the location, so it is necessary to look up the address and check (more details below for looking up your address).
    • Note: A tree that straddles the line between private property and the right-of-way is considered a Street Tree. 

Examples of various right-of-way configurations:

Right of way line beyond the sidewalk example

The right-of-way line extending past sidewalk and towards a private property. The trees within this right-of-way are Street Trees. 

street trees on both sides of a sidewalk

Street Trees on both sides of a sidewalk.

Street tree without sidewalk2

Example of a right-of-way with no planting strip, but with a 4 -foot wide right-of-way (ROW) between the sidewalk and the private property boundary. The tree pictured is a Street Tree.

  • Private Trees

A Private Tree is a tree located on private property, that does not straddle the right-of-way line. 

Example of Private Tree

​​​​​​Private tree

Overlay Zone or Plan District

In certain environmental overlay zones and plan districts, private property trees of any size may require a permit for removal. 

Gathering Information 

Using PortlandMaps.com to Determine if a Tree Is a Street or Private Tree

Portlandmaps.comis a useful resource for seeing aerial photos and clear private property lines. 

Many Street Trees are in the planting strip between the sidewalk and the curb. Most trees within 15 feet of the edge of the roadway (paved or unpaved) are Street Trees. See the definition of a Street Tree in the Title 11 Tree Code under Chapter 11.80.020.B.36.K.

To determine if a tree in an alleyway or unimproved street is a Street Tree:

Finding aerial Icon
Click plane icon to show aerial view of address
  1. Go to PortlandMaps.com.
  2. Type in the address or navigate to your location on the map.
  3. Click on the airplane icon at the top to turn on the aerial photo view.
  4. Determine if the tree is inside or outside of the blue outline. If it is inside the line, then it is a private property tree. Remember, if it straddles the line, it is likely considered a Street Tree. 

Determine if a Land Use Review Governs Tree Preservation

Links to Bureau of Development Services Permit/ Case Search website. If you see any Land Use Reviews associated with the address, call Urban Forestry and ask the technician to look up whether the Land Use Review governs tree preservation on the lot.

Important Definitions

It is important to understand if you must include tree permitting into a larger project (Development) or if this is a stand alone permit (Non-development). The permitting process for developments varies from non-development, it is best to head that way now. 

Development Versus Non-Development Permits 

  • Development (or Redevelopment) Permits

    • Involve new construction, additions, and exterior renovations. 

      • Examples: Building a new house, or adding/altering an existing building. 
        • This process requires submitting plans and going through a review process. 
        • The tree plans are reviewed with this submittal. 
        • Tree work is permitted through this process, not by individual tree. 

Follow Trees and Development link if your tree work is part of a development. 

  • Non-development Permits

    • Are permits not related to any development. 

      • Multiple trees can be permitted through this process
      • Examples:
        • A Street Tree needs a limb pruned.  
        • A large private tree is dead, or dying and needs to be removed. 
    • Below we expand on these types of permits: 

Non-Development Tree Permit Types

 Apply for a Permit

Tree Emergencies

Do you have an Emergency Street Tree situation?

  • A tree emergency is any immediate tree hazard that is blocking or threatening a public street or public right-of-way, or other public property
  • Urban Forestry responds to any tree that has fallen and is blocking the right-of-way. This includes Private Trees.
    • Call Urban Forestry at 503-823-TREE (8733) to report a Street Tree emergency. Emergency dispatchers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Emergency Tree Removals

Useful information on what is and is not considered a tree emergency removal. 

Tree Complaints

Is there a dangerous or hazardous tree in your neighborhood? Is someone removing a tree without a permit? Report a tree problem or violation.

County Urban Pocket Areas

A "County Urban Pocket Area" refers to certain parts of Portland’s tree code that apply in unincorporated Multnomah county. Click the article below for a map and more information to find out which parts of the code apply, and where the pockets are located. 

Questions? Call Urban Forestry at 503-823-TREE (8733) or email trees@portlandoregon.gov