The Tree Regulation Update Advisory Committee is recommending several new changes to the Bend City Council that intend to preserve larger trees during new development while not creating a barrier to building more needed housing.

The Tree Regulation Update Advisory Committee voted on Dec. 5 to recommend a variety of changes to the Bend Development Code, which regulates how and when trees are allowed to be removed during development.

This process arose out of community members raising concerns around seeing how many trees were being cut down during new development projects.

In response, the Bend City Council created a temporary committee to research ways more significant trees could be preserved during new development while also not interfering with building the housing units the community needs.

Under state law, standards, conditions and procedures regulating housing must be clear and objective, and this process is intended to develop such standards to regulate how and when trees are preserved.

These recommended changes, if adopted, will strike a balance, and provide the framework to preserve more trees than what is happening now.

A full draft recommendation detailing different options developers can follow to preserve trees will be released at the beginning of next year. Some highlights include:

  • Developers would be required to preserve 20% of priority trees, which are defined as 20 inches in diameter or larger.
  • Another option for developers is to preserve 25% of what is called the total “diameter at breast height” on a site. Diameter at breast height is the measurement of a tree’s diameter measured at 4 ½ feet off the ground. For this option, that means diameters of all trees that have a 6-inch diameter or larger on a development site would be added together, and 25% of that total would need to be preserved.
  • If saving trees is not possible on a certain site, developers would also have the option to either replace a certain number of trees for every tree that was removed from the site. Bigger trees that were removed would require more trees to be planted in its place.
  • If none of these options can be achieved, a developer may pay a “fee-in-lieu,” meaning the developer must pay a certain amount of money to mitigate for a certain number of trees. The fund would help with purchasing, planting and maintaining trees throughout the city.
  • In general, developers would be required to preserve at least 5% of the total diameter at breast height of trees 6 inches or greater on a site. Lots that are an acre or less would be exempted from this requirement. The developer or property owner would still need to replant trees or pay the fee in lieu.

A full draft recommendation will go before the Planning Commission and Bend City Council early next year. Please visit the Tree Regulation Code Update webpage for information about public outreach opportunities that will begin in January 2024.