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Tree Permitting for Storm Damaged Trees

News Article
Retroactive permitting requirements apply to regulated trees that failed or experienced limb failures during the storm.

The Presidents’ Day storm event has resulted in a significant number of tree and limb failures across the City. As Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry continues to clear tree debris from blocked streets and sidewalks, property owners are also busy dealing with the storm’s aftermath and follow-up tree work.

Retroactive permitting

A retroactive tree permit process may be used when a regulated tree is in an actively failing condition because the condition or location of a tree presents such a clear and present danger to structures or the public that there is insufficient time to obtain a tree permit.  In these cases the hazardous portion(s) of the tree may be removed without first obtaining a required tree permit but must followed by the submission of a retroactive tree permit application together with evidence of the danger to structure or public.

  • Due to the large extent of storm-affected trees and because many residents were recovering from power outages, retroactive tree permit applications will be accepted until March 31, 2021. This is a temporary extension beyond the normal 7-day retroactive permit application window for emergency removal or pruning of a dangerous tree or limb.
  • To the best of your ability, please provide evidence of the clear and present danger requiring pruning or removal prior to obtaining a permit through:
    • Photographs
    • Arborist’s written statement
    • Insurance claim indicating tree related damage
    • Leaving physical evidence on site for the inspection

Photographs shown below are examples of situations that clearly show evidence of danger to structures or the public.

Tree and limb failures due to storm events

Why do I need a permit for a tree damaged by a storm event?

Tree permits are the way in which the City confirms trees that are removed are also replaced to ensure the continuation of the essential services provided by Portland’s urban canopy.  When a tree falls and is removed due to a storm the impact to the overall tree canopy is no different whether a tree removal occurs as a planned or unplanned event. Replacing trees for those that are lost maintains and sustains the urban forest infrastructure.

Portland’s Tree Code addresses storm-related tree failures/removals by allowing emergency removal under 11.40.020.D. This provision allows for permits to be issued retroactively once the tree work has already taken place and accompanied by appropriate documentation and applies to both removals and pruning.

Retroactive permitting requirements apply to regulated trees that failed or experienced limb failures during the storm. Please refer to the tree regulations and permits, and retroactive permits websites for situations which require immediate attention. Apply for permits on-line through the DevHub, and find a list of local tree care provider companies who have participated in our training program. Permit fee financial assistance may be available for applicants who qualify.

Questions? Please email trees@portlandoregon.gov or call 503-823-TREE(8733). Please note the tree hotline is not answered live. Your call will be returned within three business days.