The following article was drafted by Karon Johnson, a Bend citizen concerned about the current tree code.
Next Wednesday, March 15, at 5:00 p.m. the Bend City Council will have a work session to
address how to protect some of the older trees in Bend. Here are a few things you should
1) ORS 197.307(4)(b) requires that the city set “clear and objective” standards for the approval
of needed housing developments. ORS 197.303 defines “needed housing,” which as a practical
matter means all housing.
2). “Clear and objective” standards mean hard numbers, an “objective determinable fact that
does not involve subjective, value-laden analyses.”
a) A requirement that “each home be within 500 feet of a fire hydrant” is a clear and
b) A requirement that “adequate basic urban services are available” is not.
3) Bend’s tree protection code, Bend Development Code (BDC) 3.2.200, protects “significant
trees,” those with a diameter at breast height (DBH = 4’) of 10” for conifers, 6” for deciduous
4) Bend’s code is unenforceable because it lacks clear and objective standards.
a) All trees are to be preserved unless preservation is “impracticable.”
b) Preservation is impracticable when it would “prevent development”
of public streets, utilities, needed housing or other land use permits.
c) Prevent development means that the development “cannot be designed” to avoid
5) “Impracticable” and “prevent development “ are not clear and objective standards.
6) Other cities link tree preservation to formulas which produce a hard number of trees to be
preserved. For example:
a) Preservation of 30% of the tree canopy;
b) Assign “credits” to trees based on their DBH and require preservation of a
certain number of tree credits/acre;
c) The Portland code measures the diameter of each tree and requires
that the developer retain at least 20% of the total tree diameter/acre;
7) The challenge: Oregon land use law requires high density in housing developments. How to
preserve high density and still save some of our mature trees?
8) One solution: reduce the right of way (ROW) for local streets to 50’ or less. The present
ROW is 60’, which is much wider than many other cities. Saving 10’ along each local street
would allow developers to build to their desired density and still have some room for trees.
For more information, please contact email@example.com.