The future of Portland trees is at stake

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By Kris Day

In the next few weeks, City Council will either vote to embrace Portland’s new tree code—a consolidated, more consistent, and more effectual set of tree rules—or it will return it to the shelf where it has been sitting out these past, lean few years, to possibly never be seen again. Your voice can make a difference in how we protect (or don’t protect) our urban trees.

Imagine a future Portland without our Doug-fir silhouetted skyline, without big trees tying together the interiors of our blocks, or without a network of diverse canopies connecting one city park to the next. No thanks, right?

We live in a place where housing and infill development has continued despite a sluggish national economy over the last handful of years; a real boon to Portlanders on many fronts. The trouble is, without improved and simplified tree regulations, Portland could start slipping back toward Stumptown. This is not a judgement against development and it’s not to say that we don’t currently have any tree regulations. It’s just that we need to improve the ways we protect and care for our urban forest. Title 11 was created through a very inclusive public process to do just that, and to do it in a very above-board and consistent way, accessible and understandable to all Portlanders.

Portland’s urban forest is in fact growing, thanks in no small part to the thousands of young trees planted with your help, but we need our middle-aged and fully mature trees more than ever to help maintain the $53 million worth of services urban trees provide us annually. These services include cleaner water, healthier air, improved green infrastructure systems, more wildlife habitat, reduction in energy use and increased property values—all things that help make our city great.

If you care about the future of Portland’s trees and maintaining the character of our city, please let Mayor Hales and the rest of City Council know. Ask them to finally fund Title 11, a much-needed piece of legislation that 3 out of 5 of them passed into Portland law three years ago. A Portland without a robust and well-dispersed urban forest will not live up to the exceptional quality of life we Portlanders know and love or the “green” reputation the rest of the world has come to expect from us.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. Please send emails to City Council by Tuesday, April 22nd­­­, or consider telling them directly at one of three upcoming budget hearings (listed below).

Your voice can make a difference.

– Kris is a Senior Specialist for the GSI Program, as well as a Portland Urban Forestry Commissioner


Learn more

Title 11 – Trees (.pdf)

Additional talking points

  • Title 11 will uphold and increase the integrity of Portland’s urban forest by more systematically protecting this invaluable public good.
  • Title 11 will incentivize protecting trees and will offer additional flexibility for tree preservation.
  • Title 11 will consolidate Portland’s currently unwieldy and disparate tree-related regulations into a single code making them more accessible and user friendly.
  • Title 11 will establish clear standards and procedures to simplify the permitting process and to better inform customer public expectations.
  • Title 11 will improve customer service for permit seekers, arborists, and developers.


Public Budget Hearings

  • Wednesday, April 9th – Portland Community College PAC, 12000 SW 49th Ave.
  • Tuesday, April 22nd – David Douglas High School, 1001 SE 135th Ave.
  • Thursday, May 15th – Portland City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave.