Process for Removing/Replacing Street Trees
In Portland, maintaining our curb, or street, trees, and replacing dead trees with new ones is the responsibility of the homeowner. This is not an ideal situation, because maintaining and removing trees can be costly.  Until and unless the city imposes a tax or otherwise finds the funds to enable it to assume responsibility for its street trees, homeowner action, or inaction, will continue to profoundly affect the health of our neighborhood tree canopy.
If you need to remove a dead street tree, here’s what to do (note that you do not need a permit to remove a yard tree except in certain circumstances, described at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/trees/article/496498):
- Unless you just have a stump that needs grinding (this does not require a permit), all street tree removals require a city permit.
- Go to https://www.portlandoregon.gov/trees/65395 and download the Tree Removal & Replanting Permit Application. Note that the permit costs $35.00. Generally, you are required to replace a dead tree with a new one.
- IMPORTANT: In the permit application, under “Species to Replant,” you may not know, because you won’t yet have received the approved permit on which the inspector will list the trees the city has approved for your particular site. However, with two pieces of information you can find out which trees are likely to be approved for your site: planting strip width and overhead wires.
- Measure the inside width of your planting strip, which refers to the space between your sidewalk and the curb. Measure from the end of the sidewalk to the start of the curb (you’re measuring perpendicular to the sidewalk).
- Determine whether, above the tree site, you have high voltage wires or non-high-voltage wires by going here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/TREES/article/516352.
- Go to https://www.portlandoregon.gov/trees/66682 to look up city-approved trees for your situation. Want to plant a tree not on the list? Talk to your tree inspector after he/she conducts the inspection and leaves a door hanger notice.
- While waiting for the permit, decide where you’ll purchase your new trees(s). Trees bought at nurseries can be expensive. For instance, a 1.5-inch-caliper-tree, the minimum size the city requires for a single-family home, costs $200-$350 (2017 quote, Portland Nursery). Before purchasing a tree—of course, you’ll need to have your list of city-approved street trees for your site before buying—here’s some information about tree selection from Portland Nursery (the Irvington Tree Team is not endorsing any one nursery, just forwarding useful information): http://portlandnursery.com/plants/trees/tree-guide.shtml.
 Thanks to the Irvington Community Association, the Irvington Tree Team may, from year to year, have limited funds available to help needy neighbors remove dead trees. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Friends of Trees
The most economic option is to purchase through the nonprofit Friends of Trees. This organization is subsidized by the city and offers trees for only $35. It often offers conifers for only $10. On its annual planting day, which in Irvington is in late February/early March, it sends volunteer planting crews to plant all street and yard trees that residents have previously purchased through its website.
- Even before receiving your tree removal permit, if purchasing through Friends of Trees, go to http://www.friendsoftrees.org and create an account. In order to meet the FoT planting cycle, set up your account in the fall.
- Once you’ve received, usually by email, the city’s tree removal permit, email that to Friends of Trees directly. FoT will key into your account the list of trees that the inspector has approved for your particular site. You can then click the “Cart” button on your account, and up will pop your approved tree options. Click on each one for detailed information about that specific tree—its size and height, preferred conditions, whether it produces fall color, and so on.
- To give you an idea of the Friends of Trees annual planting cycle, for 2018 the deadlines are: Jan. 29 to sign up to purchase; Feb. 12 to order trees, and March 3 for planting day.