Chapter 5.116


5.116.010    Purpose.

5.116.020    Definitions.

5.116.030    Permit required.

5.116.040    Permit application.

5.116.050    Permit procedures – Conditions.

5.116.060    Permit issuance or denial.

5.116.070    Exemptions.

5.116.080    Appeal.

5.116.090    Licenses – Permits – Security.

5.116.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a mechanism to regulate the removal, destruction and relocation of significant palms within the City limits. In adopting this chapter, the City’s primary concern is that removal, destruction and relocation of significant palms is likely to have an adverse affect upon the surrounding environment. Past removal and destruction of significant palms within City limits has not only interfered with the natural scenic beauty of the City, but also greatly diminishes the ecological and historic value of these living monuments, while also posting a risk to public safety through the use of heavy machinery and unnoticed earth-moving activity.

The City Council finds and determines that the public health, safety, and welfare will be promoted by the preservation of significant palms for the following reasons:

A. Significant palms are an important source of food for larger native and nonnative bird species;

B. Significant palms provide nesting areas and/or nesting materials for birds which, in turn, consume significant amounts of insect pests;

C. Significant palms are effective in aesthetically enhancing the community;

D. In several locations, many of the City’s oldest significant palms constitute significant living reminders of the City’s rich historical heritage;

E. Significant palms collect dust and solids from the air which are washed to the ground by rainfall; and

F. The age of significant palms enable them to better survive extremes of weather and periods of drought than most plants of a similar size.

For the foregoing reasons and in accordance with the mandate of the State set forth in Section 65560 of the Government Code requiring open space planning, the City, in order to preserve and protect the best interest of its citizens, does enact this chapter. [Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.010].

5.116.020 Definitions.

The following words shall have the meaning ascribed to them, unless otherwise noted:

“Drip line” means a line which may be drawn on the ground around a significant palm directly under the outermost frond tips and which identifies that location where rainwater tends to drip from the significant palm.

“Remove” and “removal” mean any direct or indirect action that substantially impairs the health and/or aesthetic qualities of a significant palm, including (without limitation) the physical removal of a significant palm, or causing the death of a significant palm as a result of damaging the trunk, topping/removing the crown, or poisoning.

“Significant palm(s)” means the species of the family Palmaceae set forth hereinbelow which, unless specifically provided otherwise, exceed five feet in height measured from the ground at the base of the trunk to the base of the crown:

1. Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm);

2. Washingtonia filifara (California Fan Palm);

3. Reserved;

4. Trachycarpus (Windmill Palm);

5. Chamaerops (Mediterranean Fan Palm);

6. Phoenix reclinata (Senegal Date Palm);

7. Butia capitata (Pindo Palm);

8. Phoenix roebelenii (Pygmy Palm). [Ord. 1160 § 1, 2005; Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.020].

5.116.030 Permit required.

No significant palm growing within the City limits may be removed or relocated unless and until a permit has first been obtained from the office of the Director of Community Services. [Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.030].

5.116.040 Permit application.

An application for permit required by this chapter to remove or relocate any significant palm within the City shall be filed with the Director of Community Services, together with an application fee. The application fee shall cover the costs of processing and administering the application and shall be established by resolution of the City Council. The application shall be submitted with a report which shall include:

A. The acknowledged written permission from the record land owner notarized and on such forms as prescribed by the City and verified by the Director of Community Services;

B. Reserved;

C. The location of all significant palms and each significant palm proposed to be removed or relocated on a plan or map survey with a certified engineer’s/surveyor’s report identifying (1) the property by street address and assessor’s parcel number, (2) the centerline of the street, (3) the monuments establishing the property line, and (4) the distance between each significant palm and the property line;

D. The identification of each significant palm by species and approximate height and spread;

E. Photographs of the significant palm to be removed or relocated;

F. The proposed manner of removal, the proposed equipment to be utilized for removal and the planned truck/equipment route;

G. The species, number, and size of any proposed replacement palm trees shall be designated;

H. The health of any significant palm declared diseased or dying shall be verified by a written report of a certified arborist; and

I. If a significant palm is proposed to be relocated to another location on the same property or within the City, then the relocation site shall be identified and site preparation and relocation methods described. [Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.040].

5.116.050 Permit procedures – Conditions.

A. The Director of Community Services shall approve, conditionally approve or deny the application to remove or relocate any significant palm. The Director of Community Services shall require, for any permitted activity, that applicant:

1. Operate only during City Hall hours;

2. Appropriate protection of all underground utilities prior to any activity;

3. Backfill and compact all holes to grade level in accordance with City standards and remove all cut fronds;

4. Arrange proper traffic control measures and approvals for operation in City streets or rights-of-way;

5. Make the issued City permit available for review on site during activity operations;

6. Post a sign as prescribed by the City on each significant palm to be removed or relocated not less than seven days prior to such removal/relocation;

7. That removed significant palms are relocated within the City and/or are replaced with tree(s) of like species and quantity and of commensurate aesthetic value as determined by the Director of Community Services.

B. The Director of Community Services may impose conditions deemed necessary to preserve and protect the health of significant palms relocated to another site on the same property or within the City by requiring the applicant to provide documentation demonstrating:

1. That the environmental conditions of the new location are favorable to the survival of the significant palm and there is a reasonable probability that the significant palm will survive its relocation;

2. That such relocation is accomplished by qualified personnel under the supervision of the Director of Community Services, or his/her designee; and

C. Further, the Director of Community Services may impose measures to preserve and protect the health of new palm trees planted to replace those removed or relocated. Such measures may include but not be limited to:

1. Erection of temporary or permanent protective devices around the new palm tree(s) so that no substantial impairment or removal of the structure or feeder roots occurs; and

2. That no fill material be placed within three feet from the outer trunk circumference of any new palm tree(s) or within the drip line of any palm tree in excess of 18 inches in depth. [Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.050].

5.116.060 Permit issuance or denial.

The following criteria shall be considered where applicable in evaluating applications for issuance of permits required by this chapter:

A. Necessity to remove the significant palm because its continued existence at such location prevents the reasonable development of the subject property;

B. The significant palm shows a substantial decline from a condition of normal health and vigor, and restoration is not advisable, through appropriate and economically reasonable preservation procedures and practices;

C. Due to an existing and irreversible adverse condition of the significant palm, the significant palm is in danger of falling;

D. The presence of the significant palm interferes with, or is damaging to, the site line of the motoring public, utility services and roadways, walkways, foundations, drainage or other existing structures, within or without the subject property and the only reasonable alternative is the relocation and/or replacement of the significant palm;

E. The topography of the land and the effect of the significant palm removal on erosion, soil retention, and the diversion or increased flow of surface waters;

F. The number and/or location of significant palms existing on the property and the effect of significant palm removal upon aesthetic and property values and enjoyment of the general public; and

G. Good forestry practices, i.e., the number of healthy significant palms that a given parcel of land will support. [Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.060].

5.116.070 Exemptions.

A permit is not required to remove or relocate a significant palm under the following circumstances:

A. Reserved;

B. Significant palms damaged by thunderstorms, windstorms, floods, earthquakes, fires or other natural disasters and determined to be dangerous by a peace officer, fireman, or Code Enforcement Officer in their official capacity;

C. When removal is determined necessary by Fire Department personnel actively engaged in fighting a fire; and

D. Significant palms planted, grown and/or held for sale as part of a licensed nursery business. [Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.070].

5.116.080 Appeal.

Any applicant aggrieved by any decision made by the Director of Community Services on an application filed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter may appeal such decision to the City Manager. Such appeal must be submitted to the Office of the City Manager in writing within 10 days of the decision (“notice of appeal”). The notice of appeal shall state briefly the grounds of the appeal and be signed by the applicant. Within 10 days after the hearing, the City Manager shall give written notice of the decision to the appellant. The decision of the City Manager shall be final. [Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.080].

5.116.090 Licenses – Permits – Security.

All contractors, or anyone removing or relocating a significant palm, shall have a valid business license from the City and a valid California landscape contractor’s license, and shall obtain all applicable permits from the City and/or public entity exercising jurisdiction over the activity and/or the property, including (without limitation) an oversized load permit or encroachment permit. In addition, the Director of Community Services may require that insurance and/or adequate security be provided as deemed necessary and appropriate for the protection of the public. [Ord. 1044 § 1, 1999. Code 1987 § 5.78.090].