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Do I Need a Tree 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.

On this page

Read the Tree Code, Title 11


Important Definitions

Is it a Street or 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

A Street tree is any tree growing in the City's right-of-way (ROW), or strip of land near City streets.

Image of street trees
Photograph of street trees example
Right of way line beyond the sidewalk example
  • Right-of-Way sizes vary, but generally the right-of-way strip begins at the curb and includes the sidewalk, and then inwards (past the sidewalk and towards private property) by varying amounts. 

street trees on both sides of a sidewalk

Street Trees on both sides of a sidewalk.

  • As the distance past the sidewalk and towards private property varies, see Using Portlandmaps.com (on this page below) for directions on viewing property outlines.  

  • A tree that straddles the line between private property and the right-of-way is considered a Street Tree. 

unimproved ROW trees
Example of unimproved right-of-way Street Trees
  • A right-of-way can be with or without a sidewalk.

    • A right-of-way without a sidewalk is termed "unimproved" 
    • A right-of-way with a sidewalk is "improved"
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. This tree is a Street Tree.

  • A right-of-way  without a planting strip between the street and the sidewalk.

    • The tree pictured is still a Street Tree. 

Private Trees

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

Example of Private Tree
​​​​​​Example of a 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. Click the link above for directions on finding the Overlay Zone and Plan District based by address. 


Using PortlandMaps  

Portlandmaps.comis a useful interactive map and resource for seeing aerial property outline based on an address search. 

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

Finding aerial Icon
Click the airplane icon to switch to an aerial photo view
  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. 

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.


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.

  • Certain Land Use decisions could require long term tree preservation, which means Urban Forestry cannot issue a tree permit.
  • If you have a land use decision you will have to discuss this with BSD Planning and Zoning. 

Two Different Paths for Tree Permitting

It is important to understand if tree permits are apart of a larger project or "development", or if you need a stand alone permit "Non-development". 

Development or 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. 
    • For tree plan and tree protection requirements for development projects (building, commercial, etc.):
  • Non-Development Tree Permits

    • A tree permit not connected to any development project. 

      • Examples: A Street Tree needs a limb pruned; or a large private tree is dead, or dying and needs to be removed. 

      • Multiple trees can be permitted through this process

      • Below is more information 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