Chapter 16.34
SIGNIFICANT TREES PROTECTION Amended Ord. 5160 Ord. 5182

Sections:

16.34.010    Purpose.

16.34.015    Scope.

16.34.020    Amendment.

16.34.030    Definitions. Amended Ord. 5160 Ord. 5182

16.34.040    Permit required.

16.34.050    Application and fee.

16.34.060    Required findings.

16.34.065    Approvals.

16.34.070    Conditions of approval.

16.34.080    Emergencies.

16.34.090    Exemptions.

16.34.100    Repealed.

16.34.105    Violations.

16.34.110    Enforcement penalties, remedies and procedures for violations.

16.34.120    Appeals.

16.34.130    Expiration.

16.34.140    Amendment.

16.34.010 Purpose.

(A)    The Board of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County finds that the trees and forest communities located within the County’s Coastal Zone are a valuable resource. Removal of significant trees could reduce scenic beauty and the attractiveness of the area to residents and visitors.

(B)    The Board of Supervisors further finds that the preservation of significant trees and forest communities on private and public property is necessary to protect and enhance the County’s natural beauty, property values, and tourist industry. The enactment of this chapter is necessary to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the County, while recognizing individual rights to develop, maintain, and enjoy the use of private property to the fullest possible extent. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.015 Scope.

This chapter regulates the removal of trees in the Coastal Zone when not included in the provisions of a discretionary permit. This chapter establishes the type of trees to be protected, the circumstances under which they may be removed, and the procedures for obtaining a permit for their removal. The provisions of this chapter apply to all persons as defined herein; they also establish standards applicable to tree cutting activities of public agencies required to obtain a Coastal Zone permit pursuant to Chapter 13.20 SCCC. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.020 Amendment.

Any revision to this chapter which applies to the Coastal Zone shall be reviewed by the Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission to determine whether it constitutes an amendment to the Local Coastal Program. When an ordinance revision constitutes an amendment to the Local Coastal Program, such revision shall be processed pursuant to the hearing and notification provisions of Chapter 13.03 SCCC and shall be subject to approval by the California Coastal Commission. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.030 Definitions. Amended Ord. 5160 Ord. 5182

All terms used in this chapter shall be as defined in the General Plan and Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan glossaries and as follows:

“Coastal Zone” means that unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz as defined by the California Coastal Act of 1976, Division 20 of the California Public Resources Code. This area is identified on the General Plan and Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan maps.

“Diameter at breast height (d.b.h.)” means the average diameter of a tree outside the bark at a point four and one-half feet above the highest level ground.

“Person” means any individual, firm, association, corporation, partnership, business, trust company, or a local public agency as specified in Section 53090 of the California Government Code; or the State or a State agency or city when not engaged in a sovereign activity. Where a Coastal Zone permit is required pursuant to Chapter 13.20 SCCC, State and Federal agencies may be required to comply with various provisions of this chapter as a condition of the Coastal Zone permit.

“Planning Director” means the Director of the Planning Department or his or her authorized designee charged with the administration and enforcement of this chapter.

“Significant tree,” for the purposes of this chapter, shall include any tree, sprout clump, or group of trees, as follows:

(A)    Within the urban services line or rural services line, any tree which is equal to or greater than 20 inches d.b.h. (approximately five feet in circumference); any sprout clump of five or more stems each of which is greater than 12 inches d.b.h. (approximately three feet in circumference); or any group consisting of five or more trees on one parcel, each of which is greater than 12 inches d.b.h. (approximately three feet in circumference).

(B)    Outside the urban services line or rural services line, where visible from a scenic road, any beach, or within a designated scenic resource area, any tree which is equal to or greater than 40 inches d.b.h. (approximately 10 feet in circumference); any sprout clump of five or more stems, each of which is greater than 20 inches d.b.h. (approximately five feet in circumference); or, any group consisting of 10 or more trees on one parcel, each greater than 20 inches d.b.h. (approximately five feet in circumference).

(C)    Any tree located in a sensitive habitat as defined in Chapter 16.32 SCCC. Also see SCCC 16.34.090(C), exemption of projects with other permits.

“Significant tree removal permit” means a permit issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

“Sprout clump” means individual stems arising from one root collar and sharing a common root system. [Ord. 4346 §§ 73, 74, 1994; Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.040 Permit required.

Except for those exempt activities as enumerated in SCCC 16.34.090, no person shall do, cause, permit, aid, abet, suffer, or furnish equipment or labor to remove, cut down, or trim more than one-third of the green foliage of, poison, or otherwise kill or destroy any significant tree as defined in this chapter within the Coastal Zone until a significant tree removal approval for the project has been obtained pursuant to Chapter 18.10 SCCC, Level II. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.050 Application and fee.

Applications for significant tree removal approvals granted pursuant to this chapter shall be made in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 18.10 SCCC, Level II, and shall include the following:

(A)    Applicant’s or authorized representative’s name, address, and telephone number.

(B)    Property Description. The description of the site(s) involved, including the street address, if any, and the assessor’s parcel number.

(C)    Required Information. The following information shall be provided in writing:

(1)    A site plan sufficient to identify and locate the trees to be removed, other trees, buildings, proposed buildings, and other improvements.

(2)    A description of the species, circumference or diameter at breast height, estimated height, and general health of the tree(s) to be removed.

(3)    A description of the method to be used in removing the tree(s).

(4)    Reason(s) for removal of the tree(s).

(5)    Proposed visual impact mitigation measures as appropriate. Size, location, and species of replacement trees, if any, shall be indicated on the site plan.

(D)    Applicant’s Property Interest. Evidence that the applicant is the owner or purchaser under contract of the premises involved, is the owner of a leasehold interest, or has written permission of the owner to make the application.

(E)    Further Information. Such further information as may be required by the Planning Director, including but not limited to the opinion of a registered professional forester, tree surgeon, or other qualified expert.

(F)    Filing Fee. A filing fee, set by resolution of the Board of Supervisors, shall accompany the application. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.060 Required findings.

One or more of the following findings shall be made prior to granting approvals pursuant to this chapter in addition to the findings required for the issuance of a development permit in accordance with Chapter 18.10 SCCC:

(A)    That the significant tree is dead or is likely to promote the spread of insects or disease.

(B)    That removal is necessary to protect health, safety, and welfare.

(C)    That removal of a nonnative tree is part of a plan approved by the County to restore native vegetation and landscaping to an area.

(D)    That removal will not involve a risk of adverse environmental impacts such as degrading scenic resources.

(E)    That removal is necessary for operation of active or passive solar facilities, and that mitigation of visual impacts will be provided.

(F)    That removal is necessary in conjunction with another permit to allow the property owner an economic use of the property consistent with the land use designation of the Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan.

(G)    That removal is part of a project involving selective harvesting for the purpose of enhancing the visual qualities of the landscape or for opening up the display of important views from public places.

(H)    That removal is necessary for new or existing agricultural purposes consistent with other County policies and that mitigation of visual impacts will be provided. Also see SCCC 16.34.090(D), exemption of tree crops. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.065 Approvals.

Significant tree removal applications shall be processed according to Chapter 18.10 SCCC, Level II. Approvals shall be granted by the Planning Director or his designee. Notices of actions taken pursuant to this chapter shall be in accordance with Chapter 18.10 SCCC. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983].

16.34.070 Conditions of approval.

In granting any permit as provided herein, the Planning Director may attach reasonable conditions to mitigate visual impacts and ensure compliance with the provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to replacement of trees removed with trees acceptable to the Planning Director. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.080 Emergencies.

In the case of emergency caused by the hazardous or dangerous condition of a tree and requiring immediate action for the safety of life or property, such necessary action may be taken to remove the tree or otherwise reduce or eliminate the hazard without complying with the other provisions of this article, except that the person responsible for cutting or removal of the tree shall report such action to the Planning Director within 10 working days thereafter. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.090 Exemptions.

The following work is exempted from all provisions of this chapter:

(A)    Timber operations which are in accordance with a timber harvesting plan submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practices Act of 1973 (commencing with Section 4511).

(B)    Any activity done pursuant to a valid timber harvest permit, or a notice of timber harvesting, approved pursuant to Chapter 16.52 SCCC.

(C)    Any tree removal authorized pursuant to a valid discretionary permit approved pursuant to Chapter 13.10 (Zoning Regulations), Chapter 13.20 (Coastal Zone Regulations), Chapter 14.01 (Subdivision Regulations), Chapter 16.20 (Grading Regulations), Chapter 16.22 (Erosion Control), Chapter 16.30 (Riparian Corridor and Wetlands Protection), Chapter 16.32 (Sensitive Habitat Protection), or Chapter 16.54 SCCC (Mining Regulations).

(D)    Removal of tree crops pursuant to agricultural operations. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.100 Inspection.

Repealed by Ord. 4392A. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.105 Violations.

(A)    It shall be unlawful for any person to do, cause, permit, aid, abet or furnish equipment or labor to remove, cut down, trim more than one-third of the foliage of, poison, or otherwise kill or destroy any significant tree as defined in SCCC 16.34.030 within the Coastal Zone unless: (1) a development permit has been obtained and is in effect which authorizes such activity; or (2) the activity is exempt from the requirement for such a permit by reason of the provisions of SCCC 16.34.090; or (3) there was an emergency caused by the hazardous or dangerous condition of the tree which required the action to be taken immediately for the safety of life or property.

(B)    It shall be unlawful for any person to exercise any development permit which authorizes actions affecting significant trees without complying with all of the conditions of such permit. [Ord. 3451-A § 24, 1983].

16.34.110 Enforcement penalties, remedies and procedures for violations.

Any violation of any provision of this chapter shall be subject to the enforcement penalties, remedies, and procedures set forth in SCCC Title 19, Enforcement of Land Use Regulations. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.120 Appeals.

All appeals of actions taken pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be made in conformance with the procedures set forth in Chapter 18.10 SCCC; provided, however, that code enforcement actions and decisions are not subject to administrative appeal except for appeals of revocation of permits pursuant to SCCC 18.10.136(C). [Ord. 4392A § 13, 1996; Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983; Ord. 3341 § 1, 1982].

16.34.130 Expiration.

Unless otherwise specified, approvals issued pursuant to this chapter shall expire one year from the date of issuance if not exercised. Where approvals are issued in conjunction with a development permit granted pursuant to Chapter 18.10 SCCC, the approval shall expire in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 18.10 SCCC. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983].

16.34.140 Amendment.

Amendments to approvals granted pursuant to this chapter, whether for change of project, conditions, or expiration date or other time limits, shall be processed in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 18.10 SCCC. [Ord. 3443 § 1, 1983].