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Portlanders help refine proposed new tree rules

On March 23, 2010, the Planning Commission and Urban Forestry Commission heard public testimony on the Citywide Tree Policy Review and Regulatory Improvement Project (Citywide Tree Project) draft proposal ( The Planning Commission closed its public hearing on June 8, 2010.  The Urban Forestry Commission will discuss the project and take public comment at least through June 17, 2010.

The two commissions have received testimony from Portland neighborhood associations, developers, professional arborists and architects, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and watershed councils, environmental organizations and many individuals.

Comments on the Citywide Tree Project proposal include a variety of opinions. Many people have expressed support for the new tree code as well as stronger rules to improve tree preservation and tree planting.

Portlanders have emphasized the importance of large trees and tree groves to preserving neighborhood character and other benefits, such as improving air quality, stormwater management, wildlife habitat and property value. Residents also support proposed customer service improvements, such as a Community Tree Manual, a 24-hour “tree hotline” and a single point of contact for questions about City tree rules and programs.

The development community has expressed concerns about how the project proposal could affect development costs and City goals for urban density and affordable housing. There is also general agreement that the proposed regulations need to be simplified. Staff has responded by proposing revisions to simplify the rules, add flexibility and reduce costs.

The purpose of the Citywide Tree Project is to create a clear, consistent, cohesive regulatory framework for trees, and to enhance Portland’s urban forest across the entire city. The proposal would update the City’s tree rules significantly and consolidate existing rules into a new tree code. A key element would establish new rules for development projects to encourage tree preservation and increase replanting requirements. Proposed flexible development standards would make it easier to keep existing trees on development sites. The proposal would also standardize the City’s tree removal permit system, removing the existing exemption for trees on single-family lots.

Since the public hearings began, the Planning Commission and Urban Forestry Commission have directed staff to make a number of changes to the project proposal. Most of the changes would simplify the project proposal and reduce public and private costs. The Urban Forestry Commission will be discussing the Citywide Tree Project on June 17, 7:30 a.m. in City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Lovejoy Room, The public may also comment at that time.

To comment on the Citywide Tree Policy Review and Regulatory Improvement Project draft proposal online or by mail, please visit