Portland, Oregon Again Leading the Way on Stronger Tree Protection

North Seattle Clearcut – Victory Hts

Tree PAC sent the following e-mail to Seattle’s Mayor and City Council:

Here is an update on what Portland, Oregon is currently doing regarding updating their Tree Ordinance.

Portland, Oregon last week took another strong step toward strengthening their Tree Ordinance.

“On Nov. 12, the Portland City Council adopted an ordinance that updates the city’s tree policies to promote greater preservation of trees when development occurs in certain types of commercial, employment and industrial areas, and to further incentivize preservation of larger trees in other development situations.”

Among the provisions of the updated ordinance, it

  • “Reduces the threshold for required preservation of private trees from 36 inches to 20 inches in diameter at breast height (dbh) wherever tree preservation is required
  • Reduces the threshold for the application of an inch-per-inch fee in lieu of preservation for private trees from 36 inches dbh to 20 inches dbh …
  • Directs Portland Parks and Recreation to bring a scope of work for future updates to the city’s tree code (Title 11 of Portland City Code) to City Council by March 31, 2021 and directs the City Council to consider funding for that work during the fiscal year 2021-22 City budget process.”

Link to full Portland news article below,  which has a link to the amended ordinance text for Chapter 11.50 -Trees in Development Situations and accompanying documentation of the adoption process.

Portland.gov – Portland City Council adopts updates to city’s tree code, strengthening tree preservation

Note that Portland will now require as of Dec 12th, that developers pay a Fee in Lieu of 2 for 1 replacement cost for removed trees 12-20 inches diameter and inch for inch cost for trees removed that are over 20 inches in diameter.

The amended ordinance in Exhibit C, of the accompanying document shows the new amended Fee in Lieu cost:

Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry Title 11, Trees Fee Schedule DEVELOPMENT effective December 12, 2020


preservation, Fee in Lieu private trees

trees>12 inches and <20 inches in diameter …. $1800/tree

trees>20 inches in diameter ….. $450/inch


planting and establishment Fee in Lieu …. $450/inch

With budget shortfalls this year note that Seattle continues to lose potential revenue to support our urban forest infrastructure as lots during development are frequently clear-cut. Portland, Oregon meanwhile is generating revenue to help reduce tree loss and counter it by replacing trees. Here is a link to Portland’s latest report.  Urban Forestry Title 11 Fund Report Fiscal Year 2018-2019.

 Portland reported that they generated $1,444,426 for their Tree Planting and Preservation Fund and $981,720 for their Urban Forestry Fund for revenue in fiscal year 2018-2019 totaling $2,426,149. 

 These number will go up as Portland has lowered its threshold for its Fee in Lieu for tree loss during development from 36 inches DBH to 20 inches DBH. Private homeowner’s Fees in Lieu start at 12 inches DHB but are seldom used as it appears that they mostly choose to replace the removed tree and thus not have to pay a Fee in Lieu.

 Seattle has put off updating SMC 25.11 – its Tree Protection Ordinance now for 11 years. Even going by Portland’s latest figures Seattle has probably forgone $25 – $30 million since 2009 in potential revenue for urban forestry by not updating its tree ordinance as other cities are doing.

Thank you for your continued support for updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. We need to move forward now.

Steve Zemke

Chair – Tree PAC


Tree PAC urges Seattle City Council to Update Seattle’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan

To Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee Members – Seattle City Council
Dan Strauss – Chair
My name is Steve Zemke. I am speaking as the Chair of Tree PAC in support of Council Resolution 31970.
Tree PAC supports amending Seattle’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan to “identify opportunities to better support the urban tree canopy”
We also support the provision to consider “impact fee amendments to public owned parks, open space and recreation facilities and school facilities”
In addition to considering amendments proposed by 5(C) and 5(I) –
We also ask that the provision of “no net loss of tree canopy” in the previous Comprehensive Plan be added back to the current Plan. The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission in 2018 urged that this be added back as part of Seattle’s Tree Regulations.
Another provision to add is  “maximizing the retention of existing trees” during development as in the Land Use Code SMC 23 to help stop unnecessary clearcutting of lots and a significant loss of existing tree canopy.
 To help meet race and social justice goals and climate crisis impacts and help implement the Green New Deal step up the 30% tree canopy goal in the Comprehensive Plan from 2037 to 2030.
And please make the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission part of the process by adding that OPCD  submit to the UFC any draft language they propose on tree canopy opportunities and ask for the UFC’s comments and these comments also be submitted to the Seattle City Council.

Public Comments Needed Now to Increase Seattle’s Protection of Trees

Action Needed Now to Protect Seattle’s Trees!

Public Comments are needed now supporting draft SDCI Director’s Rule 13-2020 for Increased Tree Protection – Deadline August 17th

Your help is needed now to ensure that stronger tree protection in Seattle moves forward. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections has released a draft update to its 2008 Director’s Rule on Exceptional Trees. Director’s Rule 13-2020 will be used to give updated guidance to developers and property owners on tree protection in Seattle.
Public comment in support of this update is needed by
Monday August 17, 2020


The update was mandated by Mayor Burgess’s Executive Order 2017-11 – Tree Protection and by the 2019 Seattle City Council Resolution 31902 after strong citizen outrage over continued tree loss in the city.
The draft Director’s Rules would give greater protection to large trees, tree groves, Heritage Trees, and all trees over 6 inches in diameter at standard height (DSH). It would require Tree Care Providers to register with the city of Seattle and comply with city tree regulations. It would also finally require developers who remove exceptional trees and trees over 24 inches DSH to replace them on site or elsewhere in the city. This requirement has been in the current Tree Protection Ordinance since 2001 but was never enforced.
Adoption of the Director’s Rule as drafted is not guaranteed but can be changed or delayed due to public pressure. We would like to see stronger protection. The King County Master Builders, meanwhile, are urging their members to also submit public comments, including urging the update be delayed for 18 months.
The draft updated Director’s Rule is long overdue. Citizens have been urging updated tree protection for 11 years. Enough is enough.
The draft is a strong step toward adding more tree protection now while an updated city Tree Protection Ordinance is being considered.
You can help. We have put together a pre-written letter of support that includes amendments proposed by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission in their public comments to the city.
Our pre-written letter highlights the main areas of support in the proposed Director’s Rule and our suggestions on how the Director’s Rule can be strengthened.

All you need to do is click on TAKE ACTION to get started.

You will be asked to let the city know who you are and where you live, so the city knows who is commenting. You can add your personal comments to the draft, and with one click, send it to the city to add your support. Thanks for your help.
When the updated Director’s Rule is finally adopted, it will be a big step forward in increasing protection for trees and draft Director’s Rule 13-2020Seattle’s Urban Forest ban forest.
Please share this e-mail with others to seek additional public input. Thanks!

What are the key provisions in the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance?

What are the key provisions in
the Seattle Urban Forestry
Commission’s draft Tree and
Urban Forest Protection

Power Point Presentation

                       Click here to see Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s draft                           Seattle Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance,