So branches, or even a tree, blew down in the recent windstorm -- what do you do about it?

COURTESY OF NICOLE HUETHER - When a huge Catalpa tree at S.E. 37th and Steele fell in the April windstorm, it spanned Steele Street and the sidewalk. Neighborhood children, as you see, thought it was quite an event! Thankfully, no one was hurt. In the recent severe windstorm, if you had a tree fall on your property you may already know the responsibilities that ensue. However, for those who have not yet experienced this misfortune, the following might be helpful.

First of all, obviously there is the need to get it cut up and out of the way. Even if it was growing on a public right-of-way or a parking strip, if it falls on your private property YOU are responsible for the cleanup.

Secondly, if a tree falls in a parking strip, the homeowner in front of whom the tree was growing is the party who must take care of it – this has been the case in Portland since the 1970's. In an e-mail, Mark Ross – Media and Community Relations for PP&R – explains, "It's fairly common for cities in western states to assign street tree maintenance responsibility to the adjacent property owner, rather than funding a city-wide street tree maintenance program.

"However, if a tree growing on private property falls into public property – the street – the city may respond (on a prioritized basis) in order to keep the right-of-way clear," explains Ross. That was the case when a huge Southern Catalpa tree fell onto S.E. Steele just off 37th during the early April storm. City workers arrived to cut it up and clean the street and sidewalk.

If a homeowner thinks that a street tree is an immediate hazard he or she should immediately leave the area, and then call Portland Parks & Recreation's Urban Forestry at 503/823-TREE (823-8733). Emergency dispatchers are available 24/7 at that number.

When a tree on private property seems to be an immediate hazard, the homeowner can remove it, but is required to apply for a retroactive HYPERLINK "" Tree Removal and Replanting Permit within seven days of removing the tree. The $35 application fee is still required.

If a homeowner simply wants to remove a tree from the parking strip, what process must they follow? All street trees first require a permit for removal. Urban Forestry says that if a given tree is dead, dying, or dangerous, then it will be approved for a permit. Therefore, after receiving the approved permit from PP&R's Urban Forestry division, such trees can then be removed. A fine will be charged if it is cut down without a permit.

And what about replacement trees? To protect the urban canopy, the city now requires that every tree that falls or is taken down must be replaced with a new one that meets city standards. Or, the homeowner must pay a fee in place of planting new trees, so that the city may arrange for trees to be planted in the same watershed.

For answers, call Portland Parks & Recreation's Urban Forestry division at 503/823-8733, or go online –

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