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

DEVELOPMENT

preservation, Fee in Lieu private trees

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

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

NON-DEVELOPMENT 

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

stevezemke@TreePAC.org

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