Roadside Tree & Vegetation Care

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The City of Hillsboro recognizes the value and benefits trees provide, including:

  • Improving air and water quality
  • Reducing stormwater runoff
  • Creating shade
  • Providing wildlife habitat  
  • Increasing property value 
  • Fostering a greater sense of community

 These benefits also bring a need for maintenance to ensure: 

  • Trees remain healthy 
  • Drivers have unobstructed sight lines
  • Trucks and equipment can provide services 
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists can safely use sidewalks and streets

Thousands of public and private trees can be found throughout the Hillsboro community.

  • A private tree is a tree whose trunk is entirely on private property. 
  • A public tree is a tree located in the public right-of-way or the area between a property line and the roadway’s curb or edge of the pavement.

The Hillsboro Municipal Code Sections 6.16.020 and 9.18.080 outline property owner and City responsibilities for the roadside tree and vegetation care. These responsibilities are aligned with core urban forestry standards and the City’s Tree City USA designation.

Property Owner Responsibilities

Maintain Clear Zones 

Sidewalks Sidewalk and roadway clear zones

Property owners are required to trim or remove any tree limbs or vegetation that hangs lower than eight feet above the surface of the sidewalk or walkway along its entire width. This includes: 
  • Private trees and vegetation extending into the sidewalk
  • Public trees and vegetation planted along streets 

Streets and Alleys 

Property owners are required to trim or remove any tree limbs or vegetation hanging lower than 15-feet* above the surface of the street or alley. This includes: 

  • Private trees and vegetation extending into the street or alley
  • Public trees and vegetation planted along streets 

*A 13-foot minimum clearance is allowed until January 1, 2020, to allow property owners time to adjust to the new 15-foot height requirement.

Street Signs and Lighting

Property owners are required to trim or remove any tree limbs or vegetation blocking street lighting or the visibility of traffic signs and signals. This includes private and public trees and vegetation.

Intersections

Typical residential intersection vision clear zone

Property owners on corner lots are required to trim vegetation to create a clear line of sight at intersections for the traveling public.

  • For residential properties with a sidewalk, the trimmed area is required to be a 25-foot triangular shaped area measured from the property line corner.
  • For residential properties where it is difficult to see where the property line corner is located, the trimmed area is required to be at least a 35-foot triangular shaped area measured from the intersection.

 The triangular shaped area includes:

  • Vegetation the along the street side of their property line (the public right-of-way)
  • Vegetation behind the property line

Property owners are required to keep vegetation trimmed so that its height is no more than:

  • 30 inches above the top of the curb in residential locations with a sidewalk
  • 36 inches above the surface of the road in residential locations without a curb

Care for Trees

The City requires property owners to meet tree and vegetation care requirements, including:

  • Maintaining trees in adjacent public right-of-ways in good health including watering, pruning, and protecting against damage and disease.
  • Obtaining a free General Right-of-Way Permit from the City of Hillsboro before planting, major pruning, or removing a tree within the public right-of-way.
  • Selecting trees for planting in the public right-of-way from Section 700 (Landscaping) of City of Hillsboro’s Design & Construction Standards.

Tree and Vegetation Care Compliance

In cases where the City identifies a need for property owners to trim trees or vegetation to meet Hillsboro Municipal Code, property owners will be notified with a door hanger.

The property owner is required to comply or contact the City to discuss scheduled trimming within 15 calendar days of receiving notification. If this does not occur, the City of Hillsboro Code Compliance Division will take steps to address the code requirements.

City of Hillsboro Responsibilities

The City is responsible for:

  • Planting, pruning, and removing public trees and vegetation in medians, islands, and roundabouts located within the public right-of-way, which adjacent property owners are not required to maintain
  • Performing any planting, maintenance, and tree removal in the public right-of-way in accordance with the Hillsboro Municipal Code, Design and Construction Standards, and established national tree care standards

 The City retains the authority to:

  • Trim or remove any public trees and vegetation that could affect public safety or the use of existing sidewalks or roadways
  • Trim or remove any public trees and vegetation to allow the planned establishment, extension, expansion, widening, or improvement of public roadways, alleys, and pathways within public rights-of-way

In time-sensitive situations, when a tree must be trimmed because it could affect public safety or the use of sidewalks or roadways and the City needs to access private property in order to trim the tree to national standards, City staff will attempt to contact the property owner to gain permission to access their property.

  • If contact is made and permission to access the property is granted, City staff will trim the tree to the national tree care standards.
  • If contact cannot be made, City staff will trim the tree to the property line and a door hanger will be left informing the property owner of the trimming. After receiving permission to access the private property, City staff will return and complete the trimming.

Resources

Contact Us

  • Roadside Tree and Vegetation Care

    • Are these Roadside Tree & Vegetation Care responsibilities new?

    • Why did the clear zone above the roadway increase from 13 to 15 feet?

    • What happens if I do not trim my trees and vegetation to meet the Municipal Code requirements?

    • What do trees have to do with water and air quality?

    • What is the best way to ensure newly planted trees will survive?

    • Can leaves be raked into the street? Does the City come by and pick them up?