By Midge Pierce

The “white hot development market” was a topic at a tree advocacy workshop sponsored by Save the Giants, Friends of Trees and East Multnomah Soil and Water District prior to the City’s Tree Summit.

“The more we can keep houses, the less threat to the tree canopy,” said Arthur Bradford, a Save the Giants founder.

Bradford issued last year’s clarion cry that galvanized neighbors, activists, press and his South Park connections to help save three Eastmoreland redwoods about to come under a developer’s chainsaw.

Delivering a cautionary tale, he said pre-emptive conversations with the property sellers next door could have saved the redwoods long before Lorax Dave took up his treetop residence.

The high profile tree-in spurred the City to enact emergency measures Bradford hopes will become permanent in Title 11 reform this month.

Under the emergency measures, fines for removing trees were raised based on size rather than the measly $1200 per tree before the self-proclaimed band of Ewoks arrived. Today, the Martin Street sequoias are valued at an estimated $72K.

Bradford called for the temporary mitigation fees that went up in April to stay up. “We can’t outbid every developer and get ahead of every tree.”

Advocating at upcoming City Council hearings may be the most straightforward way to help, but activists say approaching builders with leverage that good developers don’t want to be bad neighbors might yield favorable outcomes as well.

Tree activist Jim Labbe said Infill can be tree neutral if site reviews are implemented and a rule is eliminated that allows removal of any tree of any size within 10 feet of a house.

He called for an end to exemptions on industrial lands. He said the heat islands of the Columbia Corridor impact us all.

City Forester Jenn Cairo urged both conference attendees to nominate heritage trees, report violations and lobby for robust reforms and budgets that support preservation and planting in areas of the City that are tree deserts.

Proposed amendments to the Title 11 Tree Codes will be considered at public hearings held by the Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) December 7, , and the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) December 13.