2022 to 2023 Street Tree Minor Code Amendment
- Does your property have a street tree in a planting strip that's 3 feet wide or less?
- Are you concerned about your street tree roots lifting the sidewalk, either now or in the future?
- Have you been wondering about the permit process and City requirements for street tree removal and replacement?
The 2022 to 2023 Street Tree Minor Code Amendment is here to help!
Also, check out our recent podcast episode of Inside City Hall! It's all about Trees in Oregon City, the Street Tree Minor Code Amendment project, and when you might or might not need a permit to remove them!
What Has Changed?
The 2022 to 23 Street Tree Minor Code Amendment, otherwise known as Ordinance 23-1004, passed the City Commission on its 2nd Hearing on May 3rd, 2023. 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 (PDF) in planter strips 3 feet wide or less if they wish to.
- It clarifies that the City staff decisio nmaker 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 feet 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.
Before 2001, many subdivisions in Oregon City were developed with street tree planting strips that were too narrow for the trees planted in them. In many cases, these trees' roots required more than their narrow strips - often 3 feet wide or less - to grow and succeed. As a result, many street trees began to die prematurely or grow hazardous as they matured. Sometimes their roots buckled the sidewalk nearby. This would create mobility hazards for sidewalk users, particularly for people with disabilities. It also required property owners to pay significant costs to repair their sidewalks.
In 2001, Oregon City partially corrected this by requiring all new subdivisions to install street tree planting strips that were 5 feet wide or more. The Public Works Department has also set up a Sidewalk Replacement Assistance Grant Program for property owners who need financial assistance in replacing their buckled sidewalks.
Oregon City's Street Tree Removal and Replacement Permit process has also grown to accommodate people with street trees in these kinds of circumstances. It currently requires only one-for-one removal and replacement when trees are deemed dead, diseased, hazardous, or buckle the sidewalk.
On June 7th, 2022, the Natural Resources Committee, a board of natural resource experts, decided that more needed to be done. They called for changes to the Street Tree Species List to limit street tree replanting to species that would, among other things, help prevent sidewalk buckling and other tree-related hazards.
In that same June 7th meeting, the Natural Resources Committee also recommended that the City Commission consider changing the Street Tree Code to no longer require property owners to replace - or pay a fee-in-lieu of replacement - street trees removed from planting strips 3 feet wide or less.
The public information campaign on these code revisions was initiated in Fall 2022. The code amendments were then presented to the Natural Resource Committee for feedback in October 2022, and the Citizen Involvement Committee and the Planning Commission for feedback in November 2022. The code amendments then moved to the City Commission in February 2023 and were adopted on May 3, 2023.
Links to the various Committee and Commission meetings at which the code was presented, are available on this page.
- 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 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 trees or street trees, sometimes it is necessary.
For more information, please visit our webpage dedicated to Trees in Oregon City.
- What is Tree City USA?
Street trees are also important to Oregon City because the City is a confirmed member of Tree City USA through the National Arbor Day Foundation. Tree City USA status helps to raise awareness about trees and the importance of urban forestry to our quality of life. We will be celebrating Oregon Arbor Week the first week of April with an Arbor Day proclamation, tree planting events and an arbor day celebration!
- Why is Oregon City revising its Street Tree code?
- To help prevent damage to public infrastructure such as:
- To help prevent mobility hazards like sidewalk buckling due to street tree root encroachment.
- To help reduce cost barriers to property owners removing hazardous or potentially hazardous street trees that were planted in strips 3 feet wide or less.
- To help clarify other minor omissions and inconsistencies in the code.
- To help prevent damage to public infrastructure such as:
- Commission Report for Ordinance 23-1004 (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)
- OCMC 12.32.020 - Definitions (Clean Code Adopted 5-3-23) (PDF)
- Ordinance 23-1004 - 2022 to 2023 Street Tree Minor Code Amendments (Adopted 5-3-23) (PDF)