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BPS News: Citywide Tree Project adopted by City Council

Proposal to ensure tree preservation and planting means Portlanders will benefit from robust tree canopy

BPS News


April 13, 2011



Robert Jortner

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability


Eden Dabbs
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

Citywide Tree Project adopted by City Council

Proposal to ensure tree preservation and planting means Portlanders will benefit from robust tree canopy

Portland, ORE. -- Today, the Portland City Council unanimously adopted milestone legislation to protect and enhance Portland's urban forest. Three years in the making, the Citywide Tree Project streamlines and strengthens the City's requirements around trees.

"The Tree Project has been a journey," proclaimed Mayor Sam Adams. "Thanks to our community's tenacity, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability's leadership and critical assistance from other city bureaus, dozens of disparate viewpoints have been woven into a cohesive framework for the future of our trees." 

Commissioner Nick Fish called the Tree Project "an historic opportunity for Portland to ensure the future of our urban tree canopy. We are all partners in protecting and managing this vital natural resource. Trees provide significant economic and environmental benefits to our community."

Led by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, multiple City bureaus and community stakeholders tackled tough policy questions and tradeoffs to produce the proposal presented to Portland's Planning Commission and Urban Forestry Commission last year, and then later to the City Council.

"The process was unique," observed Bonny McKnight, Citywide Land Use Group Chair and member of the project Stakeholder Discussion Group. "The Citywide Tree Policy development took place through an effective and - by normal standards - rapid collaboration of many City bureaus to find rules that could be combined, eliminated, clarified and ultimately simplified into a single, understandable [code] (Title 11 - Trees)."
The result is a cohesive regulatory framework, designed to support City goals for tree canopy and healthy watersheds, smart urban development and neighborhood livability. Portland's new tree rules will encourage preservation of large healthy trees and ensure that trees are routinely planted as new development takes place.  The project also standardizes and streamlines the City's tree removal and pruning permit requirements, making them more consistent, fair and user-friendly.

"Trees are an essential part of having a vibrant city. They help clean our air and water, as well as keep us cool in the summer," stated Bureau of Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott. "The new tree code provides a great step forward as the community tries to grow more trees and protect the ones we have."
Commissioner Amanda Fritz noted that, "This is landmark legislation. Trees are the landmarks in our neighborhoods, and the regulations we are adopting provide landmark protections. So Portlanders will continue to enjoy the many benefits of big beautiful trees for generations to come."
As active participants in the project, the development community sought balance in the new tree rules. "The Home Builders Association appreciates the collaborative effort with the other stakeholders and the City of Portland to develop a tree policy that created a workable, fair and consistent system for housing development," said Dave Nielson, executive director of Home Builders Association of Metro Portland. "The final result was one that places equal importance on infill homes and a healthy tree canopy."

City Council also directed a set of actions to improve customer service and public access to tree-related information and programs. These include a new single point of contact for the public, a 24-hour tree hotline, an updated tree permit tracking system, and development of a Community Tree Manual.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman noted that, "Completing this phase of the work is an important step, but success will ultimately be measured in terms of more trees across Portland, and community confidence in our ability to implement and enforce the rules."
Said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, "This is a huge step forward for our environment and our community. The Tree Project directs the City to protect, educate and enforce as needed to sustain and expand our urban canopy. Portland's trees are an incredible asset, and the costs associated with this approach represent smart, strategic and proactive investments in the City's green infrastructure."

The Tree Project components will be phased in over three years so staff can prepare to implement the new codes, while providing information to developers, arborists and Portland residents.

For more information about the Citywide Tree Project, please visit
About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

To create and enhance a vibrant city, BPS combines the disciplines of planning and sustainability to advance Portland's diverse and distinct neighborhoods, promote a prosperous and low-carbon economy, and help ensure that people and the natural environment are healthy and integrated into the cityscape. BPS provides a forum for community engagement and education, and is a catalyst for action. With a city full of partners, BPS develops creative and practical solutions on issues as far ranging as comprehensive, neighborhood and environmental planning, urban design, waste reduction and recycling, energy efficiency and solar technologies. This innovative, interdisciplinary approach strengthens Portland's position as an international model of sustainable development practices and commerce.

Past, Present, and Future for Historic Resources

The Historic Resources symposiums for CC2035 explore key issues for preservation and planning.

As Central City 2035 (CC2035) moves forward, the Symposium Series is wrapping up with Historic Resources. At the first Historic Resources symposium on May 20, participants had a lively discussion. Cities are always evolving and taking on new meanings and forms. As such preservation and resources are key areas for discussion.

Participants discussed what is feasible, realistic and economical to preserve, and what types of stewardship should take place to protect the physical, social and cultural assets of the Central City. The meeting also touched upon other topics, including:

  • The need for clear design reviews and preservation guidelines
  • Preservation as a strategy for sustainability
  • Seismic upgrades for older historical structures
  • Incorporating historic buildings into places that are becoming increasingly dense

Topics covered at this meeting will be further explored at the second Historic Resources Symposium being held on June 17. The results of these symposiums will be incorporated into the development of a Draft Concept Plan for CC2035.

For questions of comments about the Historic Resources symposiums, contact Nicholas Starin at (503) 823-5837 or by email at

Materials from previous and upcoming symposiums (when available) can be found in the Current Documents section of the website.

The CC2035 team will make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities. Please notify us no fewer than five (5) business days prior to the event by phone 503-823-7700, by the TTY line at 503-823-6868 or by the Oregon Relay Service at 1-800-735-2900.

Environmental Program Update for Hayden Island

Draft Natural Resource Inventory for Hayden Island/Columbia River soon to be available

The City of Portland is currently updating the Hayden Island Natural Resources Inventory (HINRI) to incorporate comments received from a Technical Review Panel. The inventory is an update of the natural resources around the entirety of Hayden Island, both west and east sides, as well as an update of the resources along the south shore of the Columbia between Kelley Point Park to a point just west of Marine Drive and NE 33rd Avenue. A draft of this inventory will become available on WHI's Environmental Program page the end of June for public review and comment. You can view additional information about the program and view a map of the NRI study area at the WHI Environmental Program Update page as well.

If you have any questions, please contact Mindy Brooks at 503-823-7831 or via email

Consultant Hiring for Key WHI Project Work

The city is hiring two consultants to work on key elements for planning West Hayden Island

Last summer, City Council requested several additional studies of West Hayden Island as part of the resolution to continue planning efforts on West Hayden Island (WHI). The project team is hiring  the following consultant teams to complete several studies over the next 6-9 months.

ECONorthwest has been hired to complete the following two studies:

  • Harbor Lands Inventory is a feasibility analysis of creating possible sites for a marine terminal by consolidation and/or expansion of existing sites along the Willamette River. This includes a review of our harbor lands inventory and will include the Vancouver waterfront lands.

  • Public Benefit-Costs Analysis will analyze the costs and benefits associated with a potential marine industrial development and related infrastructure on 300 acres and protecting the remaining 500 acres of open space on WHI. This analysis will compare the costs and benefits of development with the costs and benefits of leaving the island in its current condition.

Worley Parsons has been given a notice of intent to lead us through a Concept Plan development process (subject to Council approval on June 22nd). The consultant will use the City Council's parameters of protecting 500 acres as open space and 300 acres for future marine terminal development. They will design a public process for developing the concept plans with the Project Advisory Committee and the public. Four components of the concept panning process will include:

  1. A Rail Analysis to review different rail access scenarios that can be accommodated within a 300-acre footprint.

  2. An Operational Efficiencies Study to review innovations around the world at other ports, including why these strategies would or would not work in Portland.

  3. A Transportation Analysis to develop the street plan alternatives for WHI, including consideration of a bridge.

  4. Preliminary Economic, Social, Environmental and Energy (ESEE) Analysis. The consultant will provide advice to staff on a "as needed" basis to determine the positive, negative, mixed and neutral consequences of allowing, limiting or prohibiting a mix of marine industrial, open space and recreation uses.  

Please see the Phase II Technical Studies for a list of all the studies that are currently being undertaken by the city and consultants.

You're Invited! N/NE Quadrant Open House Event June 29

Review and provide feedback on draft concepts.

open houseAre you interested in issues affecting the Lower Albina, Rose Quarter and Lloyd District areas of the Central City? Please join us at an open house for the N/NE Quadrant and I-5 Broadway/Weidler Plans.

See event details: Calendar | Printable Flyer

Based on ideas gathered at previous meetings and events, the project team has developed preliminary land use and transportation concept alternatives that illustrate how the area could develop over time. At the open house, these concepts will be on display and City of Portland and Oregon Department of Transportation staff will be on hand to answer questions, receive public feedback and discuss the project.

This is a great opportunity to help shape the future of the N/NE Quadrant of the Central City. We hope you join us! A preview of some of the information that will be presented at the open house is available now:

For more information, please contact Stephanie Beckman (City of Portland) at (503) 823-6042 or or Todd Juhasz (ODOT) at (503) 731-4753 or