Trimming vegetation to improve visibility is one of the most effective ways you can enhance traffic safety in your neighborhood. Overgrown trees and shrubs endanger us all when they block our view of traffic signs, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. If vegetation is blocking visibility in the street or at an intersection, it is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner or resident to trim the vegetation.
Click here for a two-page backgrounder on Keeping the Right of Way Clear of Vegetation Obstructions.
Traffic signs and signals
The City responds to vegetation obstructions of signs and signals. Crews will investigate concerns about trees and shrubs that block stop signs and traffic signals, trees and shrubs that hang too low over sidewalks and streets, and trees and shrubs that limit visibility at an intersection.
The City will either notify the resident to trim their tree or plant, or we will trim it. For example, a large shrub at the corner that blocks the ability of a driver to see if traffic is coming from another street is a hazard.
Report vegetation obstruction of signs and signals at 503-823-1700 or 503-823-5211.
Report neighborhood nuisance complaint.
Below are the City's visibility standards. To determine which one applies to you, find the speed limit for your street. Note that residential streets are 25 mph, unless otherwise posted.
|Speed limit||Traffic signals must be visible from...||Stop, yield, and crosswalk signs must be visible from...||All other signs must be visible from...|
About trees, shrubs, and public property
The land between the sidewalk and the street, often called the parking strip or planting strip, is part of the public right-of-way. However, Portland City Code requires the adjacent property owner or resident to maintain the strip. Before you plant, prune, or remove a tree on this land, you must obtain a free permit from the City Forester.
Contact the City Forester at 503-823-4489
To ensure safe passage for everyone, tree limbs over streets and sidewalks must meet the standards below. All intersections must have clear visibility for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, even if no traffic signs or signals are present. If the City is notified that there might be a visibility problem at your corner, we will contact you as a reminder to keep nearby trees and shrubs trimmed.
- When a tree abuts a sidewalk, its limbs must be 7.5 feet above the surface.
- When a tree abuts a local street, its limbs must be 11 feet above the surface.
- When a tree abuts an arterial street, its limbs must be 14 feet above the surface.
To make a nuisance complaint regarding vegetation obstructions of sidewalks, paths, streets, and other rights of way, call the Neighborhood Inspections Complaint Line at 503-823-CODE (2633). You will be asked to provide your name, address, phone or email, and nature of complaint; the address of the property (if the specific address is unknown, then a description of the property location); and a description of the issue of concern. Or submit your complaint online using the Neighborhood Nuisance Online Complaint Form.
What is a City Code violation?
In most cases, investigation of code violations and enforcement action happen when a citizen reports a potential violation. Types of violations that are typically reported and where to report them include: vehicles, construction without permits, residential & commercial, tree/vegetation, noise, and other.
Click here to learn types of violations typically reported and where to report them.