Remove & Replace a Street Tree
Street Tree Removal & Replacement Permits
Street Tree Removal and Replacement Permits are free. The City requires them in order to ensure that street trees are replaced if removed from the public right-of-way. Permits are also the City's way of tracking the overall change in tree canopy city-wide, which is an important component of being a designated member of Tree City USA.
If you have received a permit for street tree replacement, it will specify a planting timeline chosen to help ensure long-term tree health and success. If you require a longer timeline, please coordinate with the Planning Department so that we can assure your replacement tree gets planted in a reasonable amount of time.
Oregon City Municipal Code Chapter 12.08 requires owners to care for street trees in the planter strip abutting their property. A dead, diseased, or hazardous street tree, as determined by a Certified Arborist and verified by the City, may be also removed, provided it is replaced.
New Application Format!
We've redesigned our Street Tree Removal and Replacement Application to be easier to understand, more user-friendly, and reflect recent street tree code changes. We've changed the format to a Main Application and Addendum style, which allows applicants to only fill out the paperwork that applies to their specific type of street tree removal situation:
- Our Main Application form (PDF) gets you started, provides us basic information, and then directs you to the right addenda for your circumstances.
- Addendum A (PDF): Exemptions is a 1-page form that covers street trees removed from planter strips that are 3 feet wide or less, as well as Nuisance species that happen to be street trees.
- Addendum B (PDF): Dead, Diseased, and Hazardous Street Trees is also a 1-page form that covers street trees that are being removed because they're dead, diseased, or hazardous according to a Certified Arborist report.
- Addendum C (PDF): Street Trees Lifting the Sidewalk is another 1-page form that covers exactly what it looks like - street trees whose roots are creating mobility hazards by lifting nearby sidewalk panels.
- Addendum D (PDF): Elective Street Tree Removal is the 1-page addendum you fill out when your street tree removal doesn't qualify for addenda A, B, or C. More than 1-for-1 replacement is often required in these cases.
- Addendum E (PDF): Replanting Alternatives is the 2-page form you use if you don't have room to replant in the planter strip abutting your property.
Depending on the circumstances, your application may require more than 1 addendum in addition to the main application. Regardless, the application is still free of charge.
Fill your application and applicable addenda out completely, attach any required documents noted, and send it to us through our Online Portal, via email to the Planning Department, or drop it off in person at 695 Warner Parrott Road during our Customer Service hours, Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 4 pm.
2022 to 2023 Street Tree Minor Code Amendments
On May 3, 2023, the Oregon City Commission adopted Ordinance 23-1004, which amended Oregon City's street tree code. Here's what the new code amends:
- It does away with street tree replanting requirements for street trees removed from planter strips that are 3 feet wide or less.
- It does away with street tree fee-in-lieu requirements for street trees removed from planter strips that are 3 feet wide or less.
- It still allows property owners to replant appropriate trees from the new Street Tree List in planter strips 3 feet wide or less if they wish to.
- It clarifies that the City staff decision maker for street tree removals is the "City Manager or designee."
- It clarifies that a report from an ISA Certified Arborist is required to justify the removal of dead, diseased, or hazardous street trees.
- It clarifies that the minimum replacement tree caliper size for dead, diseased, or hazardous trees is 1.5 inches measured 6 inches above the root crown.
- It allows property owners to replant street trees in their front yards, within 10 feet of the right-of-way, without the need to get a deed covenant from the County.
- It makes the fee in lieu of replanting a street tree the last resort, by requiring property owners to prove the following before they are eligible for this option:
- There is inadequate space in their planter strip according to street tree spacing requirements.
- Other property owners aren't interested in receiving the replacement tree in their planter strips.
- Neither Parks nor Public Works is interested in receiving the replacement street tree on public property.
- There is inadequate space in the property owner's front yard, within 10 feet of the right-of-way, for the replacement tree.
See the adopted Clean Code (PDF).
- Why does the City require street trees?
All trees provide benefits, such as stormwater retention and erosion control, wildlife habitat, and reduced energy consumption. A public / street tree is a community-owned tree that grows on City property. Often, they are located adjacent to your home in a planter strip or median between the sidewalk and the street. When planter strips are not present, they may be planted near the street pavement or behind a sidewalk. Though the City does not encourage removal of public / street trees, sometimes it is necessary.
- What are the benefits of Street Trees?
Planting a public / street tree can provide an abundance of benefits, not just environmental! For example, a recent study by the City of Portland found that a tree with a canopy cover of 312 square feet (the average for the study) adds $7,593 in value to the house it fronts. Trees also positively influence the values of houses within 100 feet. On average, there are 7.6 houses within 100 feet of a street tree. A tree with 312 square feet of canopy cover adds, on average, $9,241 to the value of neighboring houses.
- When is a tree removed?
Tree removal is a last resort!
There are, however, circumstances when it is warranted. Removal may be indicated when a tree is:
- Listed as Invasive non-native, nuisance, prohibited, or noxious vegetation according to Oregon City's Nuisance Plant List (PDF).
- Assessed as Dead, diseased, or hazardous by a Certified Arborist
- Causes hazardous conditions that are impossible to mitigate by other means
- Causes crowding or harm to other trees
- Replaced by a more suitable specimen
- Located in a construction or development site which does not allow for its safe retention
- Creates a mobility hazard that can not be adequately repaired without removing the tree
- When do I need a Certified Arborist Report? Why?
A Certified Arborist can help decide whether a public / street tree should be removed, and how to best accomplish the removal in a manner that is safe to people, property, and the community. Certified Arborists have the skills and equipment to safely and efficiently remove trees.
A Certified Arborist Report is only needed under certain circumstances, however. You do not need one if your sidewalk is buckled due to tree root growth, creating a sidewalk mobility hazard, or if the tree is obviously dead or has already fallen over. We request that you include photos of circumstances like these with your tree removal and replacement application.
A Certified Arborist Report is most often necessary when determining if trees that are not obviously dead or fallen are indeed dead, dying, diseased, and/or hazardous and thus subject to removal and 1-for-1 replacement.
Our webpage about Certified Arborists contains several helpful resources. It is strongly recommended when seeking a Certified Arborist that you hire a reputable company with current International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification. All contractors working in Oregon City must also have a valid business license.
Replacement Trees: Right Tree, Right Place
It is extremely important that a replacement tree species is appropriate for the planting area. The City has adopted a recommended list of street trees (PDF) which is organized by width of the planter strip. Replanting according to this list helps avoid future damage to infrastructure and prolongs the life of the tree.
In certain subdivisions approved in the 1980s and 1990s, street trees were planted that have outgrown or are starting to outgrow the more narrow planter strips which were typical of that period, often resulting in sidewalk lifting and other damage to infrastructure. Sidewalk lifting, in particular, poses potential hazards for people with disabilities, and other sidewalk users more generally. It is for this reason that the City allows one-for-one tree removal and replacement based on species that will have the greatest likelihood of success, with least likelihood of causing infrastructure damage in the future, according to planting strip size.
Every 3 to 5 years, the Street Tree List is reviewed and revised at the direction of the City Commission. The current Street Tree List was adopted (PDF) by the City Commission on August 17th, 2022.
Public / Street Trees should be replaced with properly selected street trees (PDF) in order to provide maximum benefit, subject to the clearance distances required under OCMC 12.08.015.B. The City's preferred approach is to replant new, replacement trees within the planter strip abutting your property, according to the planter strip width recommendations in the Street Tree List (PDF). If a sufficient location to plant replacement tree(s) is not available, you may:
- Plant a tree in another planter strip in Oregon City, with abutting property owner approval.
- Plant a tree on public property. Off-site installation of replacement trees within the right-of-way or on public property, subject to City approval;
- Plant a replacement tree in your front yard. A new replacement street tree or trees may be planted in your front yard if within ten feet of the street. If this option is chosen the city requires that you furnish a map showing the location of the replacement street tree or trees in your yard.
- Pay fee-in-lieu of planting. This option is a last resort. Property owners are only eligible for this option if they can demonstrate - to the satisfaction of the city - that the 3 alternate options listed above are not sufficient. These fees support the City's Tree Mitigation Fund. See an up-to-date list of such fees. This fee roughly equates to what a typical 2-inch caliper tree costs the City to purchase, transport and plant. The Tree Mitigation Fund is used to plant trees citywide.
Trees that are listed as "invasive non-native," "nuisance," "prohibited" or "noxious vegetation" on the Oregon City Nuisance Plant List (PDF), or by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Clackamas Soil and Water District, or Portland Plant List may be removed without replacement. You may download a permit application, the street tree list and other information below.
If you have questions about the permit process, please email the Planning Division or call 503-722-3789.
- Addendum A - Exemptions - Street Tree Removal and Replacement Application (PDF)
- Addendum B - Dead, Diseased, and Hazardous Trees - Street Tree Removal and Replacement Application (PDF)
- Addendum C - Street Trees Lifting Sidewalks - Street Tree Removal and Replacement Application (PDF)
- Addendum D - Elective Street Tree Removal - Street Tree Removal and Replacement Application (PDF)
- Addendum E - Replanting Alternatives - Street Tree Removal and Replacement Application (PDF)
- Main Application - Street Tree Removal and Replacement (PDF)
- OCMC 12.08.025 - General Tree Maintenance (Clean Code adopted 5-3-23) (PDF)
- OCMC 12.08.035 - Tree Removal and Replacement (Clean Code adopted 5-3-23) (PDF)
- Ordinance 23-1004 - 2022-23 Street Tree Minor Code Amendments (PDF)
- Resolution No. 22-29, Adopting a New Street Tree List - 8.17.2022 (PDF)
- Street Tree List, Adopted 8.17.2022 (PDF)
- Street Tree Planting and Removal Guide (PDF)