A row of large street trees on Northeast Lombard have been cut down, robbing the street of an important source of shade, traffic calming and myriad other benefits.
A reader tipped off BikePortland to the removal and shared a photo that shows around eight mature trees are now gone. The trees were planted in pairs across a 420-foot expanse adjacent to a sidewalk on the north side of Lombard west of 82nd Avenue (map) and they were adjacent to an industrial property (8121 NE Lombard) that is currently being redeveloped.
According to our tipster, the trees were ground down to stumps earlier this month.
The City of Portland Urban Forestry Office, says that since Lombard is part of Highway 30 and is managed and owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the construction permit is exempt from the chapter in Portland’s tree code that would have allowed the city to review the plans and possibly spare the trees
Chapter 11.05.040 (C) of Portland’s Tree Code states:
State or Federal jurisdiction. Trees within public rights-of-way that are managed by the State of Oregon are exempt from the regulations of this Title… However, these trees may be subject to other City regulations or Intergovernmental Agreements. Furthermore, the City retains summary abatement authority for nuisances posing an immediate threat to public safety.
When our tipster shared the news with the staffer at Urban Forestry, they said, “I am sorry to hear of this removal and understand how frustrating tree loss is for the community.”
Reached for comment, a spokesperson from the Oregon Department of Transportation told BikePortland the trees were a City of Portland matter.
This is just the latest bad news for street trees in Portland. A story in the Portland Mercury in August shared how City of Portland bureaucracy and “inter-bureau power struggles” have coupled with a warmer climate to “make it more difficult for Portland’s tree canopy to thrive as it used to.”
Street trees are also an equity issue because of how the benefits of a strong tree canopy are not evenly spread citywide. The location of this latest removal on Lombard is in a census tract that scores in the highest level on PBOT’s Equity Matrix. PBOT’s plans for nearby 82nd Avenue
I’ve asked PBOT for comment and will update this post if/when I hear back.