Governor Kotek’s HPAC proposes overriding tree codes in favor of development.
Governor Kotek’s Housing Production Advisory Council (HPAC) is currently planning to bring forward recommendations that include the overriding of tree codes for plots smaller than 6,000 square feet, which will explicitly allow clear cutting of trees under 48″ diameter, which includes the vast majority of urban trees. This recommendation stands in stark contrast to work taking place throughout the state and nation to increase tree cover as a key tool for growing climate-resilient cities. Read more here.
HPAC has a hearing on Friday, September 29th where this facet of their proposal will be discussed.
We recognize the urgent need for affordable housing, but housing and trees should not be mutually exclusive. Friends of Trees, the Shade Equity Coalition (we’re a member!), and many other environmental organizations around the state believe the proposal is unnecessarily pitting the housing and climate emergencies against one another. Unfortunately, this advisory body in question does not have a representative from the environmental justice sector to speak to shade equity, climate change, and the myriad of benefits urban trees provide to Oregonians. This is our chance to voice our concerns.
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Suggested Talking Points from Trees for Life Oregon
—At a time of climate crisis, throwing climate- and tree-related regulations out the window is a misguided, short-sighted way to speed up housing construction—and a sure way to guarantee that the state and its cities and towns will be unable to meet their own planned climate and canopy goals.
—Many factors affect developers’ ability to build more affordable housing faster. Tree protections are hardly key among them. Portland’s tree code gives developers the option of paying fees to remove trees in lieu of preserving them. Builders have been paying these fees as they do other business expenses, deeming them worth it in order to build more revenue-generating units or a larger single home whose price will more than cover any tree-removal fees they might have paid. Moreover, simply doing away with tree protections will not guarantee that builders will create more affordable housing.
—We oppose HPAC’s proposal to essentially override municipal tree codes like Portland’s that took many people many years and much effort to put into place. Tree codes were created to ensure Oregon remains a livable place we can all be proud to live in. The Portland tree code, for one, was in the end strongly influenced by developers and is already weak as is.
—We oppose HPAC’s recommendations to erode state and local wetland and environmental zone protections. Such changes will certainly impact trees.
—Governor Kotek’s HPAC is proposing to do away with environment regulations that developers have wanted to eliminate for years. When selecting HPAC’s members Governor Kotek did not include broader voices that would reflect the reality that we are facing both a housing and a climate crisis, and that both need to be addressed in an integrated way.
We hope you’ll take this opportunity to let your voice be heard.