Mother May I? Tree Removal & Permits in Lake Oswego

Cutting down a large tree

This takes skill

As children, we were taught to respect authority and ask permission when we wanted or needed something. At home, we had to ask permission to invite a friend over to play. In school, we had to ask for permission to use the restroom or get up to sharpen our pencils. Even as adults, there are situations that require we get approval before we act upon our wants or needs. But requiring private property owners to obtain a permit to cut down a tree on their own property? Seems a bit absurd, doesn’t it? It may be absurd, but it is true in the City of Lake Oswego.

According to the City of Lake Oswego website, the tree code is intended to preserve the wooded character within the city and help protect trees as a natural resource of the city. Most would probably agree that on public or city-owned lands this ordinance might make sense.  However, in Lake Oswego, the tree code extends to private landowners. It requires that a permit must be obtained prior to the property owner chopping down a tree for any reason. Okay, I am going to give you the details. But fair warning: you might want to rummage around for your old graphing calculator.

Lake Oswego Tree Permits – The Specifics

In order to remove a tree with a trunk that is 6 inches in diameter at breast height, property owners must submit a request and then be granted approval before taking action. Breast height is determined by measuring the circumference in inches all the way around the main trunk of the tree precisely at 4.5 feet about the ground and dividing by pi (3.14), yes pi! However, if the main tree trunk splits into smaller leaders below the 4.5-foot mark, then the circumference would be found just below the trunk split. What’s next? A requirement that property owners wishing to remove a tree first obtain a four-year degree in mathematical analysis or differential equations?

On top of all that, you also need to apply for the right permit. There are permits issued specifically for the removal of dead or invasive trees; those permits do not have an expiration date. For Type I, Type II, and Hazard and Emergency tree removal, there is a 60-day window to take action or an extension will need to be granted.

Permits Lake Oswego – The Process

The process for applying is detailed on their website. Essentially, you submit your request to the city and post a public notice of the pending tree removal on the property. The city announces the pending application on their website and then notifies the neighborhood association. There is a 14-day comment period that begins on the date the notice was posted. City staff will make a tentative decision and the property owners are notified. At the same time, a 7-day appeal period begins, but appeals are limited to a small group of people. Only those who make a comment during the comment period, the applicant, and the neighborhood association are allowed to appeal. If no appeal is filed within the 7-day period, the decision is final. If an appeal is filed, a hearing will be scheduled before the Development Review Commission.

You gotta love seeing our tax dollars hard at work!

Applications can be submitted online or by mailing it to the City of Lake Oswego Planning Department. Nasty letters can be sent care of this department too.

It should be noted that routine tree trimming and pruning do not require the rigors of obtaining permission to do so. But if you need to use the restroom, sharpen your pencil, or want to invite a friend over to play, it is best you contact the officials at city hall to ensure that you’re not at risk of violation and subject to enforceable action.

Let ArborPro Tree Experts Handle the Permits

The good news is that the permits Lake Oswego process can be left to the professionals. The certified arborists at ArborPro can help you determine if you’ll need a permit for tree removal on your property. Of course, we can also help with routine tree trimming and pruning, planting new trees, and hazard tree abatement. If you have questions or want to schedule a consultation before submitting a request to cut down a tree, you do NOT need permission to give us a call!

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