Action Alert: Help Make Space for Trees on Portland’s Streets

Street trees are an important part of our City’s urban canopy, providing wildlife habitat and connectivity, reducing urban heat island effects, cleaning our air, and providing a host of other environmental health benefits to parts of the city otherwise devoid of nature. But in order to provide these benefits, street trees need adequate space and prioritization along our streets in order to thrive.

Tree-lined residential street in Portland, OR
Photo by Michael Stokes.

The City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is currently updating its Pedestrian Design Guidelines (PDG), which are standards for new streetscape development to ensure there is adequate space for sidewalks, utilities, other public infrastructure, and street trees. The current draft of the PDG brings some improvements that provide more options for tree planting, but it must go much further if the City hopes to realize its tree canopy, safety, livability, and equity goals. To get there, the draft PDG needs to include further expansion of dedicated space for large-form trees in the planting strip whenever possible. When there is not adequate space, the City should require that developers implement alternative options; like curb extensions and traffic islands to host large-form trees. At a time when recent reports indicate that the City’s canopy is now in decline, these changes are necessary in order for the City to realize its tree canopy, equity, climate, and livability goals, while providing an improved pedestrian experience.


Please let PBOT know that large-form trees need to be further prioritized in the PDG, so that in the future, the City will be more walkable and our communities healthier and more resilient.

Summit comments or sign-up to testify

Talking Points

  • It is critical that PBOT require space for large-form street trees in the right-of-way as they provide many co-benefits that improve local environmental conditions, community health, equity outcomes, and overall pedestrian experience.
  • PBOT should expand the minimum planting area to 6 ft. minimum wherever possible to ensure adequate space for large-form trees to thrive and provide their full potential of environmental, community health, and pedestrian safety benefits.
  • When adequate space does not exist in the traditional planting strip, include requirements for developers to implement alternatives to plant large-form trees in curb extensions, traffic islands, etc.

Thank you for taking action to improve our City’s urban canopy!