Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, May 15, 2015

Urban Forestry Summit

Whose trees?

The City Manager, Scott Lazenby, wrote in a Citizen's View column in the Lake Oswego Review about a city forum to be held on Saturday, May 30, to introduce a dialog about the city's controversial tree code.  If you would like to attend, see the information below and register at the city website.

Lake Oswego has more tree canopy (49%) than most cities in America (27%), and a great deal more than neighboring "green" Portland (29%).  Despite a growing population and hundreds of trees cut per year, Lake Oswego's tree canopy has actually grown.

What is the optimum tree canopy for an urban area?  No one knows for sure.  But that doesn't stop cities and counties from setting higher and higher tree canopy goals.

Portland-area communities look to thicken tree canopy
Oregonian, 8/19/2008 By Shelby Wood

"Leafy Lake Oswego approved its first urban forestry management plan in February, one that local leaders say will be one of the most ambitious tree-protection programs in the state."

In 2008, Judie Hammerstad was  mayor when our urban forestry program was put into place.

The principal question to ask yourself and the city is:
What is the purpose of a tree code?   

From the city codes:

55.02.010 Purpose. Revised 4/15

The purpose of this chapter is to regulate the removal of trees, encourage and assist property owners in managing large forested properties, and prescribe preventative protection measures to avoid damage to trees during site development in order to preserve the wooded character of the City of Lake Oswego and to protect trees as a natural resource of the City.
  • "to regulate the removal of trees."  Why?
  • to "protect trees as a natural resource of the City.."  Define "natural" and "resource".  
What do you think should be the reason the city should have a tree code at all?  Let's look at all codes as if they don't exist and then ask if they need to be there in the first place, and then justify the purpose and the limits of codes.

If you plan to attend the summit or comment on Open City Hall (the city's online comment page), take a moment to think about why we need a tree code.  Some people believe that a strict code is needed because people can't be trusted to do the "right" thing, which usually means what they want them to do.  Others believe that property owners have a personal stake in their property and will take care of their trees, cut and plant new trees, prune and water their trees.  Property owners are far better stewards of the land when left alone than when they have onerous codes that tell them it is they who must be controlled.  


The City of Lake Oswego is hosting an Urban Forestry Summit to discuss the current state of the tree code.
Please join City staff, Councilors and other stakeholders and community members for presentations and facilitated small group discussions about the goals, issues and dimensions of the tree code. There will be light snacks and refreshments available. Registration is limited to 100.
The event will take place on Saturday, May 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Adult Community Center, 505 G Avenue.
Please register for the Summit below so that we can best plan for the event.

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