Chapter 17.51
TREE REMOVAL, PRESERVATION AND PROTECTION*

Sections:

17.51.010    Purpose and intent.

17.51.020    Definitions.

17.51.030    Unlawful actions upon trees.

17.51.040    General exemptions.

17.51.050    Exemptions for governmental entities.

17.51.060    Tree removal permit.

17.51.070    Landmark trees.

17.51.080    Fees relating to landmark trees.

17.51.090    Tree committee.

*    Prior ordinance history: Ords. 96-3 and 97-3.

17.51.010 Purpose and intent.

A.    The city recognizes that the maintenance and new growth of healthy trees facilitates drainage, combats soil erosion, reduces global warming, adds real property and aesthetic values, and provides habitat for wildlife. To enhance the beauty of the city, while at the same time recognizing individual rights to develop private property, the city council adopts this chapter, establishing basic standards and measures to preserve and maintain existing trees and to encourage new tree planting.

B.    It is the intent of the city by the adoption of these regulations to limit and restrict the removal of healthy and desirable trees in the city. However, regarding single-family residential properties which cannot be further subdivided, the intent is to limit and restrict only the removal of landmark trees. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)

17.51.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

“Compensation plan” means a site plan outlining the planting location and species of replacement trees.

“Damage” means any action undertaken which causes or may cause death or significant injury, or which places the tree in a hazardous condition or in an irreversible state of decline. This includes, but is not limited to, cutting, topping, girdling, poisoning, trenching or excavating within the dripline or setting a tree on fire or allowing a tree or any portion of a tree to burn.

“DBH” or “diameter at breast height in inches” means the diameter of a tree measured at four and one-half feet above the ground while standing on the high side of the tree. The diameter may be calculated by use of the following formula: diameter equals circumference divided by 3.142.

“Development proposal” means and includes:

1.    Proposed land subdivisions;

2.    Proposed building projects for uses requiring site and architectural design approval by Section 17.50.010; and

3.    Government and utility company construction projects.

“Drip line” means the greater of the outermost edge of the tree’s canopy or fifteen times DBH measured from the center point of the tree.

Land, City. “City land” means and includes all publicly owned land including, but not limited to, parks, beaches, street right-of-way and parts of any public right-of-way devoted to plantings or park-like use.

“Person” means any individual, firm, association, corporation or other legal entity and agents, employees or representatives thereof.

“Tree” means any living woody perennial plant having a single stem of six inches or more DBH or a multistemmed plant having an aggregate diameter of ten inches or more measured at DBH and any living woody perennial plant which was planted in accordance with requirements of an approved compensation plan or was planted as part of a landscaping plan approved by the city.

Tree, City. “City tree” means any tree with more than one-half of either its trunk or branches on or above city-owned land, including any street right-of-way.

“Tree expert” means professional forester or certified arborist.

Tree, Healthy. “Healthy tree” means a tree that is continuing to thrive and is not in decline as determined by a tree expert.

Tree, Landmark. “Landmark tree” means any tree which has been identified by resolution of the planning commission as a landmark tree pursuant to Section 17.51.070.

Tree, Public Nuisance. “Public nuisance tree” means any tree or shrub growing or standing on city land or private property so its roots damage curbs, street paving or sidewalks in the public right-of-way or so it restricts the flow of traffic or visibility of any person using such streets and public rights-of-way shall constitute a public nuisance.

“Tree removal permit” means an authorization by the city for the removal of a tree or trees.

“Tree replacement” means any tree planted in accordance with requirements of an approved compensation plan.

Tree Stand, Landmark. “Landmark tree stand” means any grouping of two or more trees which has been identified by resolution of the planning commission as a landmark tree stand unless subsequently excluded by resolution of the planning commission.

Tree, Street. “Street tree” means any city tree with more than one-half of either its trunk or branches on or above any street right-of-way. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)

17.51.030 Unlawful actions upon trees.

Unless otherwise exempted, it is unlawful for any person to:

A.    Remove, damage or relocate or cause to be removed, damaged or relocated any tree within the city without first obtaining a tree removal permit following the provisions of Section 17.04.060, unless said removal, damage or relocation is exempted by Section 17.04.040 or 17.04.050;

B.    Conduct construction activities within the drip line of any tree unless these activities are conducted in compliance with tree protection guidelines adopted by resolution of the planning commission. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)

17.51.040 General exemptions.

A tree removal permit is not required in order to remove or relocate a tree under any of the following listed circumstances:

A.    When removing, damaging or relocating nonlandmark trees or conducting construction activities within the drip line of nonlandmark trees on a property in the R-1, or single-family district, which is developed with one single-family residential dwelling unit and the size and shape of the property or the location of the dwelling on said property is such that the property may not be subdivided into two or more lots in conformance with Marina’s zoning and subdivision ordinances;

B.    When performing normal maintenance, trimming and pruning for trees located on private property or for a street tree abutting said property when authorized by the owner of said property;

C.    When removing a tree which (1) was planted as part of an approved compensation plan when such removal and the replacement of said tree are accomplished in accordance with the conditions of an existing tree removal permit as determined by the community development director or designee or (2) was planted as part of a landscaping plan approved by the city when such removal is accomplished in accordance with a modified landscaping plan approved by the community development director or designee;

D.    In the event of an emergency whereby immediate action is required because of danger to life or property, any tree may be removed upon approval of the community development director or designee. Upon authorization of such removal, the community development director or designee shall file a report with the planning commission describing the facts and circumstances constituting the emergency and said report shall be provided to the tree committee. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)

17.51.050 Exemptions for governmental entities.

A tree removal permit is not required in order to remove or relocate a tree by a governmental entity under any of the following listed circumstances. However, removal of a city tree shall be accompanied by the removal of the stump to a level no higher than two inches below the adjoining finish grade elevation:

A.    When removal is determined necessary by fire department personnel actively engaged in fighting a fire;

B.    When trees are injured by and determined to be dangerous by a peace officer or firefighter in their official capacity;

C.    When trees are unintentionally damaged during the conduct of a drill by an agency of federal, state or city government, to train for emergency or public safety operations, provided the drill is approved in advance by the city. In the case of a drill, all possible effort will be made to protect existing trees;

D.    When the city performs normal maintenance, trimming and pruning of city trees;

E.    Up to three trees when corrective measures are taken to control or remove trees deemed detrimental to public health, safety or general welfare under the provisions of the Street and Highway Code. Such corrective measures shall be accomplished in the least intrusive manner. The removal of more than three trees in this manner shall require a tree removal permit;

F.    Up to three trees when the location of a nonlandmark street tree conflicts with the construction of street or sidewalk improvements, storm drain, traffic signals or signs. The removal of more than three trees in this manner shall require a tree removal permit;

G.    When corrective measures are taken to control or remove nonlandmark public nuisance trees. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)

17.51.060 Tree removal permit.

A.    Application. A person who desires to remove or relocate any tree on any property unless exempted by Section 17.51.040 or 17.51.050 shall first secure a tree removal permit from the city. An application for such a permit shall be made on an application form provided by the city accompanied by fees established pursuant to action by the city council. The application shall contain the following:

1.    The number, species, size, location of each tree proposed for removal and that may potentially be affected by the proposed development;

2.    A statement on the reason for the requested action; and

3.    Any other pertinent information determined necessary by the community development director or designee, such as an arborist report, prepared by a tree expert, that includes the following:

a.    Physical identification of each tree on-site that is addressed by the report, either by number or colored tag that is attached to each tree and keyed to the report,

b.    A site plan that identifies the location of each tree on-site that is addressed by the report, its root zone and canopy in relation to proposed development,

c.    Size, species, health, and impacts anticipated by the proposed development, and

d.    Whether the tree is proposed for preservation or removal;

4.    That identifies all existing and proposed site improvements and the location, root zone drip line, and canopy of each tree in the arborist report.

B.    Review Process. The community development director or designee, upon review and recommendation by the tree committee, may approve, deny or conditionally approve a request for removal. If the request is a part of a development proposal that requires review by the site and architectural design review board, the minor subdivision committee, and/or the planning commission, the community development director or designee shall refer the application together with a recommendation for action thereon to the appropriate reviewing body.

C.    Required Findings for Approval of Tree Removal Permit. The following findings are required prior to approval or conditional approval of a tree removal permit:

1.    The tree is in poor condition and is in danger of falling within proximity to existing structures, high pedestrian traffic areas such as parking lots, playgrounds and pedestrian walkways, or interference with utility services that cannot be controlled or remedied through reasonable preservation and/or preventive procedures and practices; or

2.    The tree is host to a plant, or insect, or other parasitic organism which endangers other adjacent healthy trees; or

3.    The location of more than three trees conflicts with the construction of street or sidewalk improvements, storm drain, traffic signals or signs; or

4.    The number of trees on the site is in excess of the number of healthy trees the site is able to support, based on such considerations as tree species, growth characteristics, general health of the stand, tree age, solar orientation and soil condition; or

5.    The applicant outlines other clearly documented and compelling reasons for the removal or relocation of a tree which do not include the elimination of falling leaves or shade, or improving a view; and

6.    The tree does not serve as part of a windbreak system, or assist in drainage or in the avoidance of soil erosion, or serve as a component of a wildlife habitat, or otherwise play a prominent role in maintaining the existing urban forest; and

7.    Due to the tree’s contribution to the aesthetic beauty of the area, the removal would not have a substantial detrimental effect on neighboring property values; and

8.    If the removal request is concurrent with development plans for the property and the development plans indicate that it is necessary to remove or relocate the tree to enable reasonable and conforming use of the property which is otherwise prevented by the location of the tree.

D.    Conditions of Approval. If it is determined by the appropriate approval authority that adverse effects of tree removal can be mitigated, conditions shall be imposed on the removal including, but not limited to, one or more of the following:

1.    Tree Removal and Protection Plan. Tree removal information shall be provided on the grading permit prior to issuance. All tree protection shall be installed and approved by the grading inspector prior to removal or retention of any trees. The tree removal and protection plan shall include:

a.    Trees approved for removal;

b.    Trees required to be preserved or relocated;

c.    Tree protection guideline notes to include an objectively observable maintenance and care plan and program to be implemented to insure the continued health and care of other trees on the property during construction in accordance with tree protection guidelines adopted by resolution of the planning commission.

2.    Compensation Plans. Requiring the replacement or placement of additional trees on the property and/or the payment to the city to fund the purchase, the planting and the maintenance of off-site replacement trees by the city pursuant to a city-adopted public tree planting plan. Such replacement trees and/or payment shall be based upon having the combined DBH of the replacement trees equal to the combined DBH of the healthy trees to be removed unless the compensation plan is appealed, in which case the city council may approve tree replacement at a lesser rate. However, until such time as said public tree planting plan is adopted, such replacement trees and/or payment shall be based upon the replacement of the healthy trees to be removed on a minimum two-for-one basis or multiplied by three for each tree removed in violation of this chapter, unless the compensation plan is appealed, in which case the city council may approve tree replacement at a lesser rate.

3.    Site Restoration Plan. Requiring restoration of ground surface area in the vicinity of tree removals. Such restoration shall include but not be limited to the removal of tree stumps and the filling of any holes left by the tree removals.

E.    Public Notice.

1.    In the event that the tree removal request is associated with a development proposal, the public shall be informed of said request following the noticing procedures for said development proposals pursuant to Marina’s subdivision and zoning ordinances.

2.    In the event that the tree removal request is not associated with a development proposal and the city manager or designee grants a tree removal permit, a notice of such action shall be posted on the site together with information relative to appeal rights.

F.    Display of Tree Removal Permit. Prior to and during the removal of any tree approved for removal, a copy of the tree removal permit shall be displayed on-site. If no tree removal permit is displayed, the city will issue a stop work order and commence the city’s administrative fine process. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)

17.51.070 Landmark trees.

This section establishes criteria for designation of landmark tree(s) and landmark tree stand(s) and establishes a process for conferring such a designation upon a tree or stand of trees.

A.    Minimum Criteria. To be eligible for consideration as a landmark tree or landmark tree stand, trees or a group of trees must meet the following minimum criteria:

1.    Prominently visible from public streets, public parking areas, parks or open space, from a minimum distance of one hundred feet;

2.    Indicate at least a seventy percent chance of surviving more than ten years, and be able to be maintained without excessive threat to the public health, safety and welfare.

B.    Additional Criteria. Landmark trees shall meet at least one of the following additional criteria:

1.    Possesses special beauty, or horticultural or historic interest;

2.    Is of such substantial size or prominence that it has significant visibility from city streets, parks or open space;

3.    Is of such substantial size that it makes a significant contribution to the forested skyline of the city;

4.    Is a rare or unusual species for this area;

5.    Is a particularly outstanding representative of the species.

C.    The designation or removal of such designation of landmark trees pursuant to this section shall be by resolution of the planning commission. The tree committee shall review nominations for landmark tree and landmark tree stand designations and removal of such designation and make recommendations to the planning commission for final action upon such designations. Prior to review of designation or removal of such designation of landmark trees by the tree committee and the planning commission, the owner of the property or the city council, in the case of trees on city property or right-of-way, and owners of property adjacent to the trees proposed for designation shall be provided with ten days’ written notice of the action under consideration and the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed designation or removal of such designation; said period for comments to the tree committee or planning commission shall be extended upon good cause being provided to the community development director or designee.

D.    Landmark Tree Map. The location of all designated landmark trees and all designated landmark tree stands shall be shown on one or more drawings or maps maintained by the city manager or designee. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)

17.51.080 Fees relating to landmark trees.

No fee or charge shall be assessed against any member of the public for any application or appeal regarding the designation of landmark trees or landmark tree stands or for the removal of such designation except an owner of property upon which the tree or trees are located when such application or appeal is associated with an application for use or development under the subdivision or zoning ordinance. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)

17.51.090 Tree committee.

The committee members shall be appointed and the committee shall operate according to Chapter 2.12 and in the following prescribed manner:

A.    The committee shall be established and appointed on an annual basis by a majority vote of the city council upon a recommendation from the planning commission.

B.    The committee shall consist of five members plus one alternate as follows:

1.    Members 1 through 3: At least three committee members shall be members of the public-at-large. One public-at-large member may reside outside the city. All other public-at-large members shall be residents of the city. All public-at-large members should preferably have a background, or some knowledge, of planning, landscaping, and/or trees, or any related field.

2.    Member 4: One committee member shall be a member of the site and architectural review board.

3.    Member 5: One member of the committee shall be a member of the planning commission.

4.    Alternate: The alternate committee member shall be a member of the planning commission.

C.    A quorum shall consist of any three members of the committee.

D.    The committee shall not include more than one member of any firm.

E.    The committee shall yearly appoint a chairman and vice-chairman. Term of chair shall not exceed two successive years. Elections shall be held every January. The chair shall preside at all meetings of the committee, make appointments to any subcommittees and shall perform all the duties necessary or incidental to the office. The vice-chair shall serve as chair in the absence or inability of the chair to serve.

F.    The committee shall meet regularly to:

a.    Review required tree removal permit application materials and provide recommendation to staff or to the planning commission on removal, mitigation measures, and conditions of approval;

b.    Review landmark tree designation proposals and provide recommendation to the planning commission;

c.    Review projects for consistency with tree preservation ordinance;

d.    Review and possibly prepare lists of preferred species for street trees and trees to be included in required landscape plans; and

e.    Support purpose and intent of the tree ordinance. (Ord. 2006-19 § 1 (part), 2006)