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In December, property owners will have more responsibilities for trees in public right-of way

STAFF FILE PHOTO - The city of Hillsboro is increasing the responsibilities for property owners with trees that extend into the public right-of-way, such as curbside trees and trees that hang over city streets.The Hillsboro City Council has changed the regulations governing how property owners maintain and care for the city's trees and urban canopy.

The Hillsboro City Council ruled last week to amend the city's codes and regulations regarding city trees, as it works to earn a status as a "Tree City USA."

Starting Dec. 6, property owners in Hillsboro will be required to trim or remove any tree limbs or other vegetation that extend into the public right of way, such as curb-side trees, or trees that overhang city streets.

The newly revamped regulations require property owners to also keep their trees in good health. The city will require property owners to obtain a free permit before planting or removing a tree from within the public right of way.

Previously, property owners needed to trim back trees that hang over roads. Trees needed to keep a clearance height of 13 feet, under old rules. City officials have extended that height to 15 feet to "help reduce damage to large vehicles," such as garbage trucks, school buses and city vehicles, the city said.

The increased minimum street clearance height goes into effect in 2020.

Achieving the status as a "tree city" has been a priority for the city this year. City leaders have tasked staff with achieving the designation by 2020.

The designation requires cities across the country to meet several standards when caring for its trees. The city must set up a board or department tasked with caring for city trees, and spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry —about $200,000 in Hillsboro's case.

Cities with Tree City USA status have, on average, cleaner air and improved storm water management systems, the city said. They see better energy savings and increased property values than other cities, as well as increased commercial activity.

The city plans to launch a webpage early next year about proper care and treatment for trees in the public right of way.

For more information about the changes, the city asks residents to visit Hillsboro-Oregon.gov/PublicWorks or call the Public Works Department at 503-615-6509.



By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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