In April, the Portland City Council unanimously adopted the Citywide Tree Project, milestone legislation to protect and enhance the city's urban forest. Portland's new tree rules will help preserve large healthy trees, while ensuring that new trees are planted as development takes place and old trees are replaced when they are removed.
Trees beautify our neighborhoods, enhance property values and support our local business districts. A large and robust tree canopy is essential to clean our air and water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as called for in Portland’s Climate Action Plan.
Collaboration and Innovation
The Citywide Tree Project represents some of the most extensive collaborative work the City and this bureau have undertaken to date. The project began as a response to residents in Southwest and East Portland neighborhoods who were concerned about the loss of trees to development. Builders and developers were also frustrated with sometimes inconsistent or rigid codes related to trees.
To address these concerns, City Council launched the Citywide Tree Project, assigning the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to lead the project. The Bureaus of Parks and Recreation, Development Services, Environmental Services, Transportation and Water were active partners in developing a new response to tree regulation and improving customer service. The bureaus worked closely with the community to design a reasonable and equitable system to clarify the rules and enhance Portland’s urban forest. Portland’s Urban Forestry Commission, Planning and Sustainability Commission, and City Council worked closely with staff and community stakeholders to hone the proposal into one that works for both Portland residents and developers alike.
The project resulted in several key actions:
- Create a new single point of contact for tree questions and publish a tree manual to make it easier for Portland residents and businesses to get the information and answers they need.
- Establish new standards to improve tree preservation and planting on development sites, and create a streamlined, standardized permit system for tree removal.
- Replace the City’s existing street tree pruning permit with a free “self-issued” permit that property owners can obtain online.
- Consolidate the tree rules into a single new code title – Title 11, Trees.
- The City will phase the project over a 3-year period to provide additional public information, education and assistance.
The Tree Project demonstrates the value of collaboration – City government, developers, residents, businesses and environmentalists all coming together to improve the system and ensure Portland has a healthy and dynamic tree canopy far into the future.
The Tree Project is just one of many efforts that City bureaus are making to enhance our community. See related story here.
All the best,
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability