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Thursday, November 11, 2010

A deep green god of young love-stained memory

Portland took a step toward designating eight new "heritage trees" yesterday. Given that the city won't let you touch street trees without a permit, and is getting pretty close to forbidding you from cutting down trees even on your own private property, it's not clear how much extra protection a tree gets from a "heritage" designation any more. But surely it adds more layers of bureaucracy between Mother Nature and the chainsaws.

The original press release said there were going to be nine new trees designated, but one got scratched at the last minute, apparently. Anyway, one of these guys is just up the street from us a ways -- a big London plane tree at the corner of Regents Drive and 25th.

Here's the photo that the city was showing around yesterday, but that photo is not taken at that address:

I think they're talking about this fellow, as seen on Google Maps Street View:

Pretty nice trees, both. Long may they live.

Comments (14)

The City just announced that leaf collection fees for 'Heritage Trees' will be double those of normal trees, due to their historic significance.

Aren't London Plane trees an invasive species? Gotta go.

Jack, city code already disallows cutting down trees on your own property-anything over 6" diameter. It could be even less now, I haven't checked in the last year.

Suppose you seek permission to cut down your trees for the express purpose of avoiding the leaf collection tax?

Actually, the Heritage Redbud around the corner on Ridgewood, is far more spectacular in size and color. Wait for the spring to view it from above, on the Ridge (with the coyotes), along a small street the name of which should never be divulged.

And Jack, once I saw the headline, that great song came rushing back. Ah, Cat. And I still know all the words!

lw - I didn't think the city of Portland regulated tree cutting on single family dwelling property unless it's a heritage tree or historic property. Does anyone know for sure?

The original pic is at NE 7th and Graham.


trikldown -

The City of Portland regulates tree cutting and pruning for trees on private property if the trunk diameter is 12" or more:


Jack and trikldown, besides street trees, in the zoning code, Title 33, trees are also regulated on one's property.

On any plans submitted for remodeling, new construction, all 6" dia. vegetation must be identified. If removed for any purpose, even for execution of the construction work for access, etc. that has to be identified. Then BDS has an elaborate formula on replacement-the number, size, type of vegetation that must be planted. A landscape plan is usually required to be submitted, even a watering program, and replacement regs for die-off. And its all inspected, monitored by BDS.

Tell me about it, lw. I purchased a house a few years ago and found out later than the previous owner (the builder) had cut down two large trees during construction. According to COP, they had to be replaced with THIRTEEN (13!!!) new trees on my relatively small lot. Of course, the code is written to protect the builder so the entire cost (close to $2K, including permits, tree stock, planting, etc.) fell on my shoulders. Besides the cost, the entire process was a nightmare for an ordinary homeowner like myself – having to navigate city bureaucracy, making sense of overly-complex city code and attending multiple hearings. Left a real bad taste in my mouth for city government – as if I needed more reasons!

We had a Heritage Tree on our property when we lived at the corner of NE 19th & Tillamook (Gov. George Chamberlain House, also on the Historic Register). I moved to Houston in August 2008.

The tree was a Chestnut Oak and it was planted as a seedling by Gov. Chamberlain's daughter on the property. The seedling came from George Washington's Mt. Vernon property.

We were not allowed to do ANYTHING to that tree. But for a non-native species, we were lucky. It was by far the healthiest tree on the property/street, and we had 7-8 big ones as the house sits on a corner lot.

One of the trees, right in front of the front walk of the house, was/is throwing off foot-diameter branches and is pretty much dead and way past gone. We wanted to cut it down about 4 years ago and had some MAJOR arguments with the city arborist over this issue. I wanted it gone for LIABILITY reasons, so that I wouldn't get sued if a huge branch came down and killed or maimed someone walking by on the sidewalk, or a car got crushed.

In their ultimate wisdom, the City of Portland wouldn't have ANYTHING of it. They wanted that tree to stay up until it fell down by itself. It got to the point where my wife and I were going to ask the city for a letter detailing their decision so that we could use it to legally indemnify ourselves in case something bad happened. Luckily we moved and thus absolved ourselves of any issues regarding this. To my knowledge, the tree is still standing.

Here's the house as we lived in it:




P.S. I won't even get into the issue of the sidewalks, which the city ordered us to replace within 20 days, or they would do it themselves and bill us...... Ever had to come up with $10 grand within 20 days?

Tree stories tell a lot about CoP.

On my rental property I had four major cottonwood trees that leaned out over the street dramatically. One finally came down in a typical winter storm right across the street and slightly scrapped an auto parked on the opposite side. I'd previously called the city and asked permission to cut them down, at least the most severely leaning ones. Denied. So after this incident I asked again. Denied. Next winter another one went down. This time when I demanded indemnity with assistant of my money for an attorney, the City Forester said he'd come out and consider it. Since PGE had twice had major power outages because of these fallen trees they also cooperated in trying to get the city to respond. Finally we got permission on paper to cut one of them. PGE/telephone, cable tv, etc. came out and dropped their lines and I hired a crew. While we worked the city forester came out to supervise, and he finally relented to let us cut down the next most leaning tree. This was all a long, ridiculous saga.

Then at my own house just recently, I had an old, beautiful dogwood tree with a branch leaning slightly over the sidewalk less than 7'6" above the sidewalk edge (magic number for the city forester and CoP's Nuisance Bureau-see Randy Leonard). They wanted me to cut it down. I put a come-a-long on it with a cable attached to a big nearby neighboring tree and winched it over in increments to get the clearance. Neighbors loved it. The City is the one that's the nuisance.

Here's the Heritage Tree map of NE Portland. Our former home's Heritage Tree (Chestnut Oak) I mentioned is #89



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