This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 2, 2011 8:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was Forget the groundhog. The next post in this blog is The real estate developer mindset. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Trees are untouchable -- unless City Hall doesn't like them

We see that the City of Portland is pushing hard for its proposed new holier-than-thou tree rules. It will eventually get to the point that you can't build your kids a tree house in their own back yard without paying the Sam Rand Twins some money and putting up with their arrogant 20-something-year-old all-knowing City Hall minions.

Funny thing: When private parties own trees in Portland, every plant is sacred. But when a tree gets in the way of some pet program that the city is ramming through, down it goes in the wink of an eye.

For an example, take the scene up in Mount Tabor Park in the southeast part of town. Somebody in the parks bureau decided that the vegetation running up the slopes of the extinct volcano wasn't "native" enough, and so they've been chainsawing and Roundupping up a storm as part of "restoring" the natural order:

The project will remove non-native, invasive vegetation, restore native trees, shrubs and grasses and control erosion in natural areas. Removing invasive plants and planting native plants in Mt. Tabor Park will enhance watershed health by improving stormwater management and habitat, just as Tabor to the River green streets do in urban areas....

View the journal to see 'before and after' photographs of sites around the park where nuisance trees and invasive plants and shrubs have been removed.

See that? "Nuisance trees"! Such a concept.

But the goofball non-native gums and plums that are breaking up the sidewalk in front of your house every five years are not "nuisances," though -- oh no, you had better not touch those, or even look at them funny, if you don't want Fireman Randy throwing you in the clink.

Over our way, they're about to blow all kinds of money turning Klickitat Street into a bike boulevard. It's been a fine street for cyclists all along, but the two-wheel crazies at City Hall can't just leave it as the excellent bike thoroughfare it already is -- they have to put in all the curb bubbles and signage and bioswales and other needless garbage that make some favored contractor wealthier and get the mayor's picture in The New York Times for something other than reckless driving. (And this being Blumenauer Fantasy Land, they remove a bunch of parking spaces for the cars of the regular Joes of the neighborhood, of course.)

The official description of the busy work includes this:

The city's contractor will likely use open trench construction to improve streets and to install stormwater management facilities, inlets and inlet leads. New green street facilities will remove some on-street parking spaces and some street trees. The city will replace most of the street trees removed.
See that? If an overgrown, old street tree gets in the way, the city just rips it out, and (maybe) replaces it. Try doing that yourself, homeowners. City Hall will crucify you.

Comments (17)

Non Native?

What, I'm not a native Oregonian because I was not born here 1000 years earlier? I have news for them. If it starts to grow here, then it is a native species.

Take a look at the draft ordinance--to trim any branch of a "street tree" in excess of 1/4 inch diameter requires city review and a permit. Proposed City Code Section 11.40.040. Not only outrageous---but simply stupid.

Is it time for us to rally in the square and protest our repressive government?

Do tree ordinances actually increase tree canopy? There is a developing body of scientific study that shows that they may not. In reaction to such laws, owners of land may stop planting trees or cut them down in anticipation of falling under the restrictions. The long run result of this is that there is less canopy rather than more, thus, such laws are counter-productive. The data seem to support the proposition that the money spent on tree code enforcement and burdens they impose do not advance the goal of increased canopy in the long run. (Note: The Oregon Forest Practices Act, basically a sound, workable set of laws, does not share the inherent deficiencies of the tree ordinances.)

I think it's guaranteed the Council is going to approve these new regulations when they vote tonight, so if you've been thinking about cutting down any (non-street) trees on your property, you have until 6 pm this evening to do it before the tree police saddle up.

craig chisholm, points well worth pursuing. In my close-in SE neighborhood, the removal of large, healthy trees from curb strips and back yards appears to have outstripped the addition of saplings planted for the believed-to-be-coming population. This appears to have been done without data actually having been gathered to support or contest the belief that the city's tree-planting program augments the urban arboreal canopy. Current residents of the city should require hard data before money is committed to the comfort and aesthetic pleasure of unidentified future residents. Or perhaps the program is primarily an employment initiative?

The broader context for this program is the prevailing local concept of the city as landlord rather than service provider.

Second commenter Sam, above, and others -

The thing that the tree ordinance advocates won't talk about is that this new chapter in the city code, and the staff to implement it, including processing permits to trim 1/4 inch branches, means hiring between 3.5 and 14 NEW FTE employees.

There is a lot wrong with the current tri furcated (a play on bifurcated) tee regulation systems where 3 separate agencies have a piee of regulation and historically do not talk to each other.

But hiring a bunch more clerks is not a solution.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

And we owe it to the tree hugging clowns at SWNI, who initiated this change back when city coffers were fat.

Madeleine School wins:

"and add "bulb out" corners to shorten crossing distances"

Seems like a extension of the private school playground which will be built and maintained with public dollars.

Why doesn't the city stop pretending and just hand over Klickitat street between 23rd and 24th to The Madeleine Catholic Factory?

Non native species (specifically blackberries) are the only thing holding the hillsides together on HWY 26 west and I-5 southbound. Just wait until they decide to kill all that with Roundup.

A new reason to say "no" when they come by my house every couple of months to ask (beg) me to let them put trees in our parking strip. (The first reason was that there is an automatic out on the leaf removal form if you don't have street trees!)

It's fun to see the shocked look on their young faces when you tell them that you don't want a tree. I think some of them are almost crying as they walk back down my steps toward the barren parking strip.

Have you ever heard of the yard police? I was composting my grass clippings on the hillside behind my home until a CoP Nazi showed up and threatened to fine me for public dumping.

"It's a steep hillside visible to nobody, what do you care?" I asked him. "One of your neighbors complained", he replied.

He showed up two weeks later while my husband was mowing the lawn, and took photographs of him dutifully emptying the grass clippings into the yard debris container (which was overflowing). Never heard back from Inspector Compost.

I moved about 3 years later: now the house is in foreclosure. How's your property value holding up, neighbor?

I believe I read that the requirements don't go into effect until 2013 - which seems like a long ways off. I hope so - I have an Ilanthus (sp?) which is quite invasive, probably dying, that I need to have taken out. And, no, there will not be another tree in its place, nor will I pay the City for more trees. I still will have 8 trees on my average-sized city lot.

What happens when a wind/ice storm takes out those half inch branches?

So...What about the shipload of off-leash dogs at Mt. Tabor? They're non-native, too, and, from what I can tell, doing a helluva lot more damage than any non-native trees.


It's Ailanthus altissima.

I agree with the removal of these trees -- without restriction -- as they are invasive


You are confusing two things, non-native and invasive.

The Mt. Tabor issue was regarding the removal of mostly invasive species.

Ivy, blackberry and clematis is literally eating away our forests.

Have you ever had the experience of a nice sunny day walking through the park and stopping for a few fresh luscious blackberries? - yummy!

No, I guess it is better to go to the store and spend $4. for a carton of blackberries wrapped in that green packaging.

Use some sense here. Leave some berries for people to enjoy and very healthy indeed right off the bush. Keep them cut back and they won't eat away our forests. I am more concerned about our trusty parks bureau coming in and cutting down our trees.

Ivy, blackberry and clematis

That's not what this post is about, and you know it. It's about trees -- "nuisance trees." Too funny.

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