The Historic District Will Not Save Our Tree Canopy

Eastmoreland has an impressive tree canopy. The primary threat to our urban forest is that it is aging. A large number of Eastmoreland trees are coming to the end of their natural lives soon, a pattern that will continue. Home remodeling is not the threat, nor is historic designation the solution. Rather, the solution is to continually plant new trees – especially street trees – so the new ones can begin to mature and fill in as the older trees die. An additional threat to some trees is Dutch Elm disease. The Eastmoreland Tree Committee is addressing both these issues. Finally, removing residential trees almost always requires re-planting – ensuring that the overall tree canopy is maintained.

If Portland’s tree ordinance is not rigorous enough, then that is the appropriate place for our neighborhood’s attention. Designating over a thousand homes as an historic district is a very indirect and not very effective way to address the tree canopy issue – but it will have costly repercussions for homeowners, even though the vast majority of exterior home remodels have little to no impact on trees.

In fact, it might be a more effective use of Eastmorelanders’ funds if we each took the increased cost for permit fees and architects we would face with the historic district design guidelines, and instead invested it in tree planting.