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Should Lake Oswego property owners be allowed to cut down a tree that is on their own property without government approval?


If you really want to read the background, the City's statement on the tree policy is below.  The short of it is that if a Lake Oswego home owner wants to cut down a tree on one's own property that has a greater diameter than 5 inches, well then, one must go through the regulatory process, pay fees, and try to figure out the application process which some might argue isn't exactly straightforward.  The city argues this helps with wildlife, beauty, and noise - its full statement is here:

One might also consider the words of C.S. Lewis, writing as Screwtape the demon, in Screwtape Proposes a Toast:

"On the deepest level our leaders contrived to call into full life an element which had been implicit in the movement from its earliest days. Hidden in the heart of this striving for Liberty there was also a deep hatred of personal freedom. That invaluable man Rousseau first revealed it. In his perfect democracy, only the state religion is permitted, slavery is restored, and the individual is told that he has really willed (though he didn’t know it) whatever the Government tells him to do. From that starting point, via Hegel (another indispensable propagandist on our side), we easily contrived both the Nazi and the Communist state. Even in England we were pretty successful. I heard the other day that in that country a man could not, without a permit, cut down his own tree with his own axe, make it into planks with his own saw, and use the planks to build a toolshed in his own garden." (emphasis added).

So, what say you?


Here's the City's description of the requirements:

Regulation of tree removal through the permit process protects the natural setting in Lake Oswego. The city has regulated tree removal and mandated tree protection by local law for approximately 30 years.  Anyone proposing to remove a tree over five inches in diameter is required to go through a permit process and justify the tree removal.  The city regularly requires the planting of replacement (or mitigation) trees when other trees have been permitted to be removed. Both homeowners and businesses are required to obtain a permit to cut a tree.


The City of Lake Oswego, using the State of Oregon’s full-service e-permitting program now accepts online applications for tree removal, tree protection and tree verification. You can apply, pay and check the status of your tree permits online through then click on e-permitting system link on the left hand side. 

Type I Permit

The Type I Permit is for trees between 5 and 10 inches DBH. It is issued at the Planning counter and is easy to get. Type I Permits are only available for residentially zoned property developed with a single family dwelling, and only two trees may be removed per calendar year per residential lot.

Type II Permit

A Type II Permit is for trees that do not qualify for a Type I, Invasive, Dead, Hazard, Emergency or Verification Permit (see terms defined later in this brochure). This includes trees greater than 10” DBH on all lots within the City. The Type II permit requires more intensive evaluation and staff time, and takes approximately one month to complete. The applicant posts a sign, obtained from the City, that describes the proposed tree removal. This begins the 14-day public comment period, during which staff reviews the application and makes a site visit. At the end of the comment period, staff issues a tentative decision. If the tentative decision is for approval, a second sign will be posted by staff which starts a 14-day appeal period. During this period, the tentative decision can be appealed to the Development Review Commission.

Dead Tree Permit

Dead tree permits can usually be issued at the Planning counter with appropriate evidence. However, between November 1 and April 15, permits for dead deciduous trees require a site visit by City staff because all deciduous trees look dead in the winter. Unless the tree is deemed a hazard to persons or property, Dead Tree Permits may not be issued for trees located in stream corridors or protected tree groves.

Emergency Tree Permit

An Emergency Tree permit is issued for trees that present an immediate danger of collapse and represent a clear hazard to persons or property.  “Immediate danger of collapse” means that the tree is already leaning, surrounding soil is heaving, and there is significant likelihood that the tree or a portion of it will fall before a tree cutting permit can be obtained through a non-emergency process.

Hazard Tree Permit

A Hazard Tree permit is issued for trees that are cracked, split, leaning or physically damaged to the degree that it is clear that the tree is likely to fall and injure persons or property and where pruning will not alleviate the hazard. This application requires a Hazard Evaluation Form completed by a certified arborist, which gives the tree a hazard rating based on failure potential, size of the part most likely to fall, and what activity or structure is under the tree. Hazard Tree Permits require staff review.

Invasive Tree Removal

The City encourages the removal of invasive tree species by offering an expedited removal permit at no cost. The City does not require the removal of invasive tree species, but offers an easy and efficient process for property owners wanting to do so. (See Invasive Species Tree Identification Guide below.)

Large Forested Track

Two types of permits are specifically available for removal of trees on large forested tracts.  A tract must contain at least one acre of forestland or be at least one acre in size and meet the stocking levels prescribed by code to be eligible for these permits. The tract cannot be subject to a pending development application. Minor Forest Management Permits are for removal of not more than six trees or four square feet of basal area in a calendar year. Major forest management permits are for removal of more than six trees. For specific application requirements and approval criteria, please refer to LOC 55.02.070.

Verification Permit

A Verification Tree Permit is issued for sites that have received development approval through a Major or Minor Development Process during which specific trees were identified for removal.

Tree Protection Permit

Tree protection fencing is required prior to conducting any development activities including, but not limited to, clearing, grading, construction, excavation, or demolition work on any site.

No, the government should decide what happens on your property.
0% (0 votes)
No, unless the property owner has a reasonable belief that the tree is a threat to life or other property.
7% (1 vote)
Yes, this is America, and citizens ought to have the right to decide what to do with trees on their own property.
93% (13 votes)
Total votes: 14
Average: 5 (1 vote)