Chapter 13.30
TREES

Sections:

13.30.010    Short title.

13.30.020    Purpose.

13.30.030    Definitions.

13.30.040    Director – Powers and duties.

13.30.050    Parks and recreation commission – Powers and duties.

13.30.060    Property owner maintenance responsibilities – Duties and liabilities.

13.30.065    Harming street trees forbidden.

13.30.070    Duties of public utilities.

13.30.080    Master street tree list.

13.30.090    Master street tree planting plan.

13.30.100    Permits required.

13.30.110    Prohibited vegetation – Nuisance.

13.30.120    Abatement of public nuisances.

13.30.130    Charges against property owners or other persons pursuant to this chapter.

13.30.140    Recovery of damages for loss of trees.

13.30.150    Infraction.

13.30.160    Right of appeal.

13.30.170    Where to file appeal.

13.30.180    Procedure for appeals.

13.30.190    Stay, pending appeal.

13.30.200    Hearing on appeal.

13.30.210    Liability.

13.30.220    House moving.

13.30.010 SHORT TITLE.

This chapter shall be known as the “Tree Ordinance of the City of Santa Cruz.”

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.020 PURPOSE.

The city council finds that planting and preserving trees enhances the natural beauty of Santa Cruz, promotes the city’s ecological balance, and is in the public interest.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.030 DEFINITIONS.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words have the meaning given in this section:

(a)    “Median area” means a planting area lying within a traffic median or traffic island in the public right-of-way.

(b)    “Parkway” means that portion of the public right-of-way between the curb and the sidewalk.

(c)    “Street tree” means any woody perennial in a city-owned right-of-way capable of reaching ten feet in height.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.040 DIRECTOR – POWERS AND DUTIES.

(a)    The director of parks and recreation shall be responsible for administering and enforcing this chapter. The director of parks and recreation shall have the following powers and duties in addition to those created elsewhere in this chapter:

(1)    Issue permits pursuant to Section 13.30.100;

(2)    Maintain a list of street trees approved by the parks and recreation commission;

(3)    Abate public nuisances as hereinafter provided;

(4)    Order removal of dead or diseased trees on private property when found to pose a threat to public safety, property or other trees in the vicinity.

(b)    The director shall have the power to perform the following services to aid landowners in maintaining parkways as required by this code and, in his or her discretion, take any measures necessary to prevent or eliminate hazards when said maintenance has not been performed:

(1)    Provide technical assistance and information to assist landowners in maintaining street trees;

(2)    Inspect and maintain street trees;

(3)    Assist in the maintenance, removal and replacement of street trees on public property;

(4)    Prune street tree limbs or roots causing or threatening to cause a hazard to public safety or property or damage to street improvements, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, sewers or other public improvements, or interfering with their use;

(5)    Inspect, trim, prune, root prune, spray, replace, or otherwise maintain any tree planted on public property within the city of Santa Cruz. No maintenance service shall be provided by the city to any tree standing on private property beyond the parkway or street right-of-way.

(c)    Any action taken by the director pursuant to this section or any other section of this code to maintain the parkways or street trees thereon is discretionary. Neither this section nor any other section of this code shall be construed as creating a duty or obligation on behalf of the city to maintain parkways and/or street trees. The city shall not incur any liability, either to the adjacent landowner or to the public, arising out of its alleged failure to maintain, or failure to properly maintain, parkways and/or street trees.

(Ord. 94-61 § 1, 1995: Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.050 PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION – POWERS AND DUTIES.

The parks and recreation commission shall have the following powers and duties:

(a)    Hear appeals from persons aggrieved by any decision of the director of parks and recreation relating to trees;

(b)    Make recommendations to the city council concerning policies, programs and decisions relating to trees.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.060 PROPERTY OWNER MAINTENANCE RESPONSIBILITIES – DUTIES AND LIABILITIES.

(a)    All duties, obligations and liabilities of property owners specified by Sections 15.20.210 and 15.20.220 of this code apply to maintenance of parkways and street trees. Specifically, a property owner obligated by Section 15.20.210 to maintain a sidewalk area must prune and trim all trees, tree roots, shrubs, hedges and ground cover, and weed, clear and otherwise maintain all included parkways so as to make the area safe and convenient for public use. A property owner who fails to so maintain a street tree or a parkway adjoining his property is liable under Section 15.20.220 of this code for any injury or damage suffered by a member of the public which is caused by said failure.

Maintenance of parkways, as required by this section, includes maintenance of all trees and other vegetation contained in planters located on parkways and in traffic diverters adjacent to parkways.

(b)    Maintenance required under Section 15.20.210 of this code shall include, but not be limited to the following acts:

(1)    Watering as necessary;

(2)    Removing any material which would be injurious to street trees, such as wire, rope, and signs;

(3)    Notifying the director of any diseased tree or hazard posed by trees;

(4)    Maintaining street trees so that there is adequate vertical pedestrian clearance from the top of the sidewalk and adequate vertical vehicular clearance from the top of the curb, to any part of a street tree;

(5)    Pest control and fertilizing, as needed;

(6)    Pruning and trimming trees, shrubs and other vegetation to allow for adequate clearance of street signs, traffic-control devices, utility lines and other stationary equipment;

(7)    Pruning street tree roots causing or threatening to cause damage to street improvements, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, sewers or other public improvements;

(8)    Pruning and trimming trees and shrubs as needed or as requested by the director for their well being, to standards set by the city.

(c)    Before any tree is pruned, trimmed, root pruned or removed under this section, all permits required by Section 13.30.100 of this code must first be obtained. All permits shall be displayed at the worksite.

All maintenance activities contemplated by this section shall be performed in conformity with guidelines, standards and recommendations of the department.

In order to enforce maintenance of street trees and parkways under this chapter, all relevant provisions and procedures delineated in Section 15.20.210 of this code and Chapter 22 of Division 7, Part 3, of the Streets and Highways Code and related provisions will be applied.

(Ord. 94-61 § 2, 1995: Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.065 HARMING STREET TREES FORBIDDEN.

No person shall injure any street tree by any means, including but not limited to the following:

(a)    Cutting to expose business signs or buildings or for any other purpose except as provided herein;

(b)    Exposing the tree to deleterious substances;

(c)    Allowing fire to burn so near a tree as to cause damage;

(d)    Allowing wires to constrict any part of a tree;

(e)    Constructing a sidewalk or structure injurious to a tree;

(f)    Disfiguring a tree by any means of graffiti; or

(g)    Nailing or tacking a sign into a tree.

(Ord. 94-61 § 3, 1995).

13.30.070 DUTIES OF PUBLIC UTILITIES.

It shall be the duty and responsibility of any public utility installing or maintaining any overhead wire or underground pipes or conduit in the vicinity of a parkway strip, to obtain permission from the director before performing any maintenance on said wires, pipes or conduits, which would cause injury to street trees. Such public utilities shall in no way injure, cut roots, deface, prune, or scar any street tree until their plans and procedures have been approved by the director.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.080 MASTER STREET TREE LIST.

(a)    The director of parks and recreation shall prepare and maintain a master street tree list enumerating the species of shade and ornamental trees permitted to be planted on public property. The master street tree list shall be submitted to the parks and recreation commission which shall make a final recommendation to the city council. When approved by the city council, the master street tree list shall be made available to the public through the department of parks and recreation. The master street tree list shall be reviewed annually by the director and the parks and recreation commission.

(b)    Trees planted in a public right-of-way must comply with the master street tree list unless a permit is obtained from the director of parks and recreation to plant a tree that does not appear on the list, or to plant a tree in a location that is contrary to the list.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.090 MASTER STREET TREE PLANTING PLAN.

The director shall prepare a master street tree planting plan for the city. This plan shall identify tree species and areas within the city appropriate for their use. The plan shall be submitted to the parks and recreation commission for recommendation to the city council. When approved by the city council, the plan shall be made available to the public through the parks and recreation department and the department of planning and community development.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.100 PERMITS REQUIRED.

(a)    Planting Street Trees. A permit shall be obtained from the director by any person proposing to plant or set out any tree on any parkway or street right-of-way.

(1)    The application required herein shall state the number of trees to be planted or set out the location, grade and variety of each tree, the method of planting, and such other information as the director may require.

(2)    The director shall issue the permit upon finding that the proposed species, location, and method of planting are consistent with the requirements of this chapter and will not be injurious to the curbs, gutters and sidewalks, or to the surrounding neighborhood.

(b)    Trimming and Removal. No person shall root prune, transplant or remove any tree on public property or within the city right-of-way without first filing an application and procuring a permit to do so from the director. No person shall prune or trim, cut off, or perform any work on a single occasion or cumulatively over a three-year period, affecting twenty-five percent or more of the crown of any tree on public property or within the city right-of-way, without first filing an application and procuring a permit to do so from the director.

(1)    The application required herein shall state the number of trees affected, the location, grade and variety of each tree, the work proposed, and such further information as the director may require.

(2)    The director shall issue the permit upon finding that the proposed action is necessary to protect the curb, gutter or sidewalk or to protect the public health and safety, and that the proposed method is satisfactory. The director may issue the permit if the proposed removal or trimming is found to be consistent with the purposes of this chapter. The director may condition any permit for removal of a street tree, granted pursuant to this section, so as to require the permittee to replace the street tree.

(c)    Time of Performance. All work performed on street trees pursuant to a permit issued by the director under this section shall be done within thirty days from the issuance of said permit, or within such longer period as the director shall specify.

(d)    The permit requirement proposed by this section is not satisfied by approval of other city departments, or under city contracts.

(e)    The director may invalidate any permit issued under this section upon finding that the terms and conditions of such permit have been violated.

(f)    The director may issue permits to public utilities not to exceed one year for work undertaken by the utility pursuant to a comprehensive program of related activities approved by the director.

(Ord. 2013-19 § 1, 2013; Ord. 94-61 § 4, 1995: Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.110 PROHIBITED VEGETATION – NUISANCE.

No person shall allow to exist any of the following, on property either owned by that person or property for which the person is responsible, as specified by Chapters 13.30 and 15.20 of this code:

(a)    Any tree or shrub on a sidewalk area, street, planting strip, as defined in Chapter 15.08, or on any private property immediately adjacent to any street which is impairing or otherwise interfering with any street improvements, sidewalk areas, curbs, approved street trees, gutters, sewers, or other public improvement;

(b)    Within the twenty-five-foot triangle of property at the intersection of any streets improved for vehicular traffic, any tree limb, shrub or plant reaching a height more than thirty inches above the curb grade adjacent thereto, except tree trunks having no limbs lower than eight feet above curb grade;

(c)    Vines or climbing plants growing into or over any street trees, or any public hydrant, pole, electrolier or sidewalk area;

(d)    Existence of any tree within the city limits that is irretrievably infested, dead or infected with objectionable insects, scales, fungus or growth injurious to plant material;

(e)    The existence of any branches or foliage which interfere with visibility on, or use of, or access to, any portion of any street improved for vehicular or pedestrian travel;

(f)    Hedges or dense thorny shrubs and plants on any street or part thereof.

(Ord. 2007-01 § 1, 2007: Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.120 ABATEMENT OF PUBLIC NUISANCES.

When any public nuisance as defined herein exists, the owner or occupant shall be served with notice in accordance with Section 4.03.010 of this code, describing the condition, stating the work necessary to remove the condition, and the time within which such work must be completed. Such time for compliance shall not exceed ninety days after the date of service of said notice. The notice shall also state that the required work will be performed by city forces or by others under the supervision of the director if it has not been performed within the period stated in the notice. The notice shall state further that any cost incurred by the city will be billed to the person subject to the notice and payable to the city within 60 days. Any failure to pay the city for the cost incurred by the city may also constitute a charge against the real property of the person subject to the notice to be collected in accordance with the provisions for liens and their enforcement in this chapter.

(Ord. 2007-01 § 2, 2007: Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.130 CHARGES AGAINST PROPERTY OWNERS OR OTHER PERSONS PURSUANT TO THIS CHAPTER.

The cost of the abatement of any public nuisance sought to be charged against the owner of the adjacent private property in accordance with the terms of this chapter may be assessed by the city council against the parcel of private property owned by such person as follows:

(a)    A notice of proposed assessment of charges against such person for failure to comply with said order shall be served personally upon said owner stating:

(1)    The date of the order affecting such person and requiring compliance with the terms of this chapter;

(2)    Notice of the failure of the owner to complete the work, as specified by the order, within the time therein specified;

(3)    The dates of performance of the work as specified by the order, by the city of Santa Cruz or such persons or contractors as it may retain to undertake the work;

(4)    The charge incurred by the city of Santa Cruz for performance in accordance with said order;

(5)    The date and place of hearing of the report of the director before the city council requesting a resolution of the city council authorizing the city clerk to prepare, execute and file a lien against the real property owned by such person in the office of the recorder of Santa Cruz County.

(b)    On the date and hour specified in said notice, the city council shall review the report of the director and authorize the preparation, execution and filing of a notice of lien, as provided in this chapter, for all or such portion of the charges reported by the director for the compliance with the order.

(c)    The notice of lien shall be filed in the office of the county recorder for Santa Cruz County and shall be in the form of a certificate substantially in the following form:

NOTICE OF LIEN

Pursuant to the authority of Chapter 13.30 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code, and as duly authorized by the City Council of the City of Santa Cruz on the _____ day of _________, 19 ___, by Resolution No. __________, the City of Santa Cruz does hereby claim a lien upon the property hereinafter described for the charges duly assessed by the Council of the City of Santa Cruz as the cost incurred by the City of Santa Cruz for ________ pursuant to order of the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Santa Cruz dated ____________, the same has not been paid nor any part thereof, and the same shall be a lien upon said real property until the said sum, with interest at the rate of 10% per annum, from the day of ________, 19__, (insert date of confirmation of assessment by City Council), has been paid in full and discharged of record.

The real property hereinbefore mentioned and upon which a lien is claimed is that certain piece or parcel of land lying and being in the City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, State of California, and more particularly described as follows:

(Legal description of the property, either by metes and bounds or by subdivision number. Assessor’s parcel number cannot be used for this type of lien.)

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.140 RECOVERY OF DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF TREES.

Any person who damages or destroys a tree on public property is liable to the city for the cost of the tree’s repair or replacement. Recovery of monetary damages and/or replacement of trees and shrubs shall be in accordance with the current plant appraisal formula prepared by the International Society of Arboriculture.

(a)    Replacement value up to eight-inch trunk caliper size shall be based upon the current retail price of a comparable tree up to eight-inch trunk caliper measured at four and one-half feet from the top of the container soil level or the existing soil grade at the site of a damaged tree. Replacement value shall include the cost of replanting or removing a tree.

(b)    Replacement trees shall be chosen in accordance with the master street tree planting plan or a species selected by the director.

(c)    For trees larger than eight inches in trunk caliper, the monetary value shall be determined on the basis of the current value per square inch of the tree trunk cross-section measured at four and one-half feet above grade in accordance with the formula prepared by the International Society of Arboriculture.

(d)    A twenty-percent deduction may be applied to any tree found by the director to be in poor condition prior to its damage or destruction.

(e)    When injury has occurred during work on any structure, collision with any motor vehicle, an act of vandalism, or house moving, the responsible party shall not be released from liability until the director has determined that the tree(s) has fully recovered.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.150 INFRACTION.

Any person who violates the provisions of Section 13.30.100 shall be guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars for a first offense and in doubling increments for each successive offense. Each such person is guilty of a separate offense for each and every day during any portion of which any such violation is committed, continued or permitted by such person and shall be punished accordingly.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.160 RIGHT OF APPEAL.

Any person who considers an action taken under the provision of this chapter by any official or advisory body to have been improper, may appeal such action or decision.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.170 WHERE TO FILE APPEAL.

(a)    Appeals from the decision of the director, or any other administrative office in taking any actions authorized by this chapter shall be made to the city parks and recreation commission.

(b)    Appeals from the decision of the parks and recreation commission in taking any actions authorized by this chapter shall be made to the city council through the city clerk.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.180 PROCEDURE FOR APPEALS.

(a)    All appeals shall be made in writing and shall state the nature of the application and the basis upon which the decision of the official or body is considered to be in error.

(b)    Such appeals, to be effective, must be received by the secretary to the parks and recreation commission or by the city clerk not less than ten calendar days following the date of the action from which such appeal is being taken.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.190 STAY, PENDING APPEAL.

The receipt of a written appeal shall stay all actions, or put in abeyance all approvals or permits which may have been granted, pending the decision of the parks and recreation commission or of the city council on such appeal.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.200 HEARING ON APPEAL.

(a)    The secretary to the parks and recreation commission shall schedule the appeal for consideration by the commission at the earliest next regular meeting, consistent with agenda preparation procedures and schedules for parks and recreation commission meetings. Appeals for consideration by the city council shall be scheduled by the city clerk at the earliest next regular meeting consistent with city council agenda preparation and meeting schedules.

(b)    Unless otherwise required in this chapter, neither the parks and recreation commission, nor the city council need hold public hearings in considering matters on appeal.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.210 LIABILITY.

Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to impose any liability upon the city of Santa Cruz, or any of its officers, agents, or employees, nor to relieve the owner or occupant of any private property from the duty to keep their private property, sidewalks, and parkway strip on such private property in a safe condition so as not to be hazardous to public use.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).

13.30.220 HOUSE MOVING.

Where a structure is to be moved over a route which may entail damage to street trees, the city may require the person moving the structure to post a bond or other security to cover the cost of anticipated damage to street trees.

(Ord. 85-29 § 2 (part), 1985).