Portland Tree Permit Series: Permit Required for Private Properties

Starting in January 2015, most Portland tree removal projects will require a permit, in accordance with the city’s new Title 11 tree legislation.

The Title 11 Tree Plan (or the Citywide Tree Policy Review and Regulatory Improvement Project as it is formally known) was Urban Forest Pro tree removal servicespassed in 2011, but full implementation was postponed until 2015. Title 11 set new guidelines on tree removal and pruning within Portland city limits. Previously, we have discussed timing your tree projects for completion before the new statute takes effect. We’ve also written an in-depth piece on all aspects of the Title 11 Trees rule. This post recaps important points as a friendly reminder to prepare for Title 11 now.

Here is an overview of some of the important changes that are taking place according to Title 11:

Improved Customer Service. An overall higher level of customer service is planned. New city staff members are being hired and a tree-only website is being built.

Focus on Preservation. New tree regulations focus on preservation first, especially for development projects. Developers are being asked to preserve existing trees whenever possible. Guidelines have also been revisited for Heritage Trees.

Clarity and Consolidation of City Regulations. Title 11 (Trees) and Title 33 (Land Use) will be consolidated. Coordination between these agencies will be improved.

Monitoring and Program Review. The new program will include more staff, program inspectors, and monitors that will continue to review policy and regulatory action.

Rules for Removal and Planting. What are the new rules going into effect this January, and how will the average homeowner be affected? The main change is that you will need a permit to remove any tree with a diameter of 12″ or more, and for trees that have been categorized as Heritage Trees. A fee is also required to remove these trees. These new regulations extend backyard trees, street trees, and trees that are from special overlay zones or plan districts. A permit will also be required to prune Heritage Trees.

Learning more. The city of Portland is making an effort to educate the citizens about the benefits of maintaining a healthy urban forest. The urban forest is vital to the lives to the lives of the people of Portland and to the sustainability of the city itself, as our green canopy provides both functional and aesthetic value. The city estimates that for every dollar spent on maintaining a healthy urban forest, we get three of value in return. Property owners play an important role in maintaining the urban forest and are expected to be aware of regulations. Those who do not educate themselves and follow the new guidelines may face fines.

Working with the City. Property owners can request a permit with City of Portland’s Urban Forestry department. The permit cost $35. Owners are requested to mark the tree in question with an orange ribbon, and a city arborist will be by within a week to inspect and (hopefully) approve the removal permit. In some cases, a pruning permit will be issued instead.

There are a number of circumstances that merit removal, namely dead, dying, or dangerous trees. Reasons that do not merit consideration for removal include:
–Excessive tree droppings (leaves, flowers, etc.)
–The tree is too tall and obstructs the view,
–The tree is perceived as making too much shade, and
–Excessive cost of maintenance.
Hazards that can be remedied by pruning will not be approved for removal.

Call Urban Forest Pro. While the city does try to make it easy for the average homeowner to obtain a permit, working with a professional tree service or arborist will speed up the process and is a convenient option. Our arborists will inspect your tree or trees, and apply for the proper permits. If we can’t offer tree removal services, because the tree doesn’t qualify according to new city regulations, we will let you know and suggest alternatives. You can count on us for a professional and timely response. Call us today and we will be glad to take a look at your trees.

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