Speak up for Portland’s trees!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Urban Forestry Commission Public Hearing on August 4th. Your stories and testimony will bolster the Commission in making recommendations to the City Council for stronger regulatory safeguards to maintain and grow large healthy trees in Portland.

We urge Portlanders to continue to send emails to the City Council asking them to support code changes that will ensure Portland continue to have large healthy trees in our neighborhoods. See more information below or the recent Streetroots article by Urban Conservationist Jim Labbe for more detail on how to make your voice heard!

A Chestnut-backed Chickadee perches at the entrance to a tree cavity.
Chestnut-backed Chickadee by Scott Carpenter
Under Portland’s new City-wide tree code, a developer was granted a permit to cut down these giant sequoia trees in the East Moreland neighborhood. To replace the trees, the developer would only have to plant four saplings or pay $2,400 to the City’s Tree Preservation or Planting Fund. Neighbors and tree advocates believe these tree replacement requirements are too low. Photo by Art Bradford.

Portland City Council Emails

Mayor Charlie Hales, MayorCharlieHales@portlandoregon.gov
Amanda Fritz, Amanda@portlandoregon.gov
Dan Saltzman, Dan@portlandoregon.gov
Nick Fish, Nick@portlandoregon.gov
Steve Novick, Novick@portlandoregon.gov
Cc: your email to staff Mieke Keenan at Mieke.keenan@portlandoregon.gov

What to tell the City Council

Urge the City Council to make administrative rule and code changes that do the following:

  • Tree replacement should fully compensate for loss of environmental values. When trees have to be cut, the City should strive to fully compensate for their environmental functions and values. The cost of replacing a mature tree with one or two saplings is insufficient. The City can help discourage removal of large healthy trees by requiring that their full environmental function and value be replaced.
  • Increase tree replanting requirements. Increase the number of trees required to be planted when trees are cut in all circumstances, especially trees that are cut when development is proposed by private developers or City agencies. In most situations under current codes, the City can only require that two saplings be planted or that a $1,200 in-lieu fee be paid when a large healthy tree is cut down. This is inadequate to compensate for the value of a large healthy tree.
  • City agencies should meet a higher standard. The City of Portland should lead by example. City-owned trees or street trees removed for public improvement projects should meet a higher standard of tree replacement and planting.
  • New solutions for street trees. We need “street improvements” that don’t put healthy trees in the cross-hairs. Developers and the Portland Bureau of Transportation should be compelled to avoid tree removal where possible and use alternative or custom sidewalk designs and surfacing materials (e.g. rubber sidewalks) to avoid the removal of large healthy street trees.
  • Increase regulations and incentives to preserve large healthy trees. Establish new standards and permit approval criteria to preserve very large healthy trees. Waive lot line setbacks and/or parking requirements to preserve trees.

More Information and Background

Stumptown redux: What top do about Portland’s loss of trees, Street Roots, July 30, 2015

What else you can do: East Moreland Neighbors are fighting to save three large sequoia redwoods in their neighborhood threatened by development. These trees are not currently protect by City Code, but you and support their neighborhood efforts to protect them through the Friends of Trees Save the Giant Sequoias fundraising initiative.