What are green streets and why are they important?
Portland is at the front of a national green street trend that combines stormwater management with urban street design. When it rains, stormwater washes pollutants from streets and other surfaces into our rivers and streams. We call this stormwater runoff, and it's a major source of water pollution. Green streets are landscape areas that capture, slow, and filter stormwater runoff from streets and sidewalks.They help keep stormwater and pollution out of our waterways, and reduce the risk of sewer backups into streets and basements. Green streets also create attractive urban green spaces in our neighborhoods, enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety, and help protect sewer ratepayers’ investments in the piped collection system.
Who maintains and cares for green streets?
The city is responsible for looking after green streets as they are an important part of the city's stormwater collection system. Professional landscape crews visit green streets to make sure they are functioning. Activities may include trimming the vegetation and removing weeds when necessary, removing and disposing of sediment, picking up trash and debris, clearing curb openings, and watering during the first two years the plants are getting established. Community members can help keep green streets working and looking good in between city visits by becoming a Green Street Steward.
Role of a Green Street Steward
Becoming a Green Street Steward is voluntary, and you can spend as much time as you want. As a Green Street Steward, you will work with the city to help with simple activities like picking up trash and debris and making sure curb openings and overflow drains are clear so stormwater can flow into the green street. This keeps stormwater and pollutants out of our streams and rivers while providing urban green spaces for your community and improving the health of our watersheds.
Do I need to attend a training workshop?
You are not required to attend a one-on-one training to become a Green Street Steward, but it might be useful to learn more about the green street you adopted. Check out our video on a main page to learn what stewards do.
How much time will it take me?
As a Green Street Steward, you can spend as much time as you want caring for your green street. We know you're busy and appreciate any time you can provide. One of the most important times to check on a green street is before, during, or after a storm event when heavy rains can cause trash and debris to collect around curb openings and drains, preventing stormwater from entering the green street. If you have only a few minutes to spare, you can help ensure the green street functions by removing any trash, debris, and leaves from curb openings and overflow drains.
Can I remove weeds from my green street?
The green street must be in the long-term stewardship phase to remove weeds. So the facility must be at least two years old and the plants are established. When you sign up to adopt a green street, the information will include which phase it is in.
Can I add plants, flowers, or vegetables to my green street?
The City of Portland recently approved the policy to allow Green Street Stewards to add vegetation into the green streets they adopted. If you have empty spaces in your green street, you can add vegetation to make it fuller and more exciting.
- The City must approve all new plants that you want to add to your adopted green street.
- The plants must be perennials/bulbs, maximum 36 inches tall at maturity and cannot be invasive or edible.
- Feel free to use the Suggested Plant Guide (found here), but you are not limited to it.
- Submit your design to at Svetlana.firstname.lastname@example.org or:
Green Street Stewards Program
400 SW 6th Ave, Suite 200
Portland, OR, 97204
We have a new and improved maintenance guide that includes information about this planting policy, which you can find online here.
Can I prune or trim the plants in the green street?
The plants serve a very important function for stormwater management, trimming them can destroy the plant and its function. The city will trim plants when safety and green street function are a concern. If you think the plants are a safety concern, call 503-823-1424. It's possible you may be subject to a city fine for impairing the health of the plants and the function of the green street.
For more information, contact the Green Street Steward Program at GreenStreetStewards@portlandoregon.gov.