Everyone deserves access to street trees that provide life-saving shade. However, Portland’s history of racist zoning and land use policies have created a deeply inequitable urban landscape. To this day, wealthier, whiter neighborhoods tend to have more street trees than historically redlined neighborhoods, where there are more BIPOC (Black & Indigenous people & People of Color) and people living on low-incomes.
The City of Portland needs to grapple with its history of inequitable land use planning, and to address how its current policies allow street tree and infrastructure inequities to persist. For example, even though street trees are public infrastructure, the cost of their maintenance currently falls on adjacent landowners – creating a disincentive for low-income Portlanders to have more trees planted in their neighborhoods. This means that Portland’s tree canopy is steadily becoming less equitable, as well as shrinking overall.
Street trees not only provide life-shaving shade during extreme heat events, but they are key to maintaining Portland’s ecological biodiversity and critical to human health year-round.
The climate crisis will make extreme heat events more common and more intense. That’s why we need to take action now to make sure everyone has access to life-saving shade and all the benefits that street trees provide.
Join the growing grassroots movement for shade equity in Portland! Together we will fight for equitable street tree coverage across our city.