Chapter 18.18


18.18.010    Purpose.

18.18.020    Applicability.

18.18.030    Landscape design principles.

18.18.040    Landscape plans.

18.18.050    Areas to be landscaped.

18.18.060    General landscaping standards.

18.18.070    Trees.

18.18.080    Water efficient landscaping and irrigation.

18.18.090    Irrigation specifications.

18.18.100    Installation and completion.

18.18.110    Maintenance.

18.18.120    Liability limitations.

18.18.010 Purpose.

The specific purposes of the landscaping regulations are to:

A.    Improve the appearance of the community by requiring aesthetically pleasing landscaping on public and private sites which is permanently maintained;

B.    Aid in energy conservation by providing shade from the sun and shelter from the wind;

C.    Soften the appearance of parking lots and other development through landscaping;

D.    Encourage conservation of water resources through the use of native and drought-tolerant plants, and water-conserving irrigation practices;

E.    Minimize or eliminate conflicts between potentially incompatible but otherwise permitted land uses on adjoining lots through visual screening;

F.    Provide areas for residential gardening and raising of food crops;

G.    To preserve, maintain and provide for reforestation of trees for the health and welfare of the City in order to preserve the scenic beauty; provide habitat; maintain and increase property values; prevent erosion of topsoil; protect against flood hazards and the risk of landslides; counteract the pollutants in the air; maintain the climatic balance; promote healthy streams and riparian corridors; enhance the urban forest; minimize the urban heat island effect; provide shade, store carbon and decrease wind velocities; and promote the general welfare and prosperity of the City;

H.    Establish regulations for the preservation and removal of protected trees within the City in order to retain as many trees as possible consistent with the purpose hereof and the reasonable economic enjoyment of private property; and

I.    To enhance walkability by encouraging shaded sidewalks and accessible passageways. (Ord. 1480 (Exh. C (part)), 2015; Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.020 Applicability.

The standards of this section apply to all new development and additions except as follows:

A.    Second dwelling units and additions less than ten percent of the floor area of the main building are exempt from the standards of this chapter, except that Section 18.18.070, Trees, and 18.18.110, Maintenance, shall apply.

B.    Landscaping that is part of a registered historic site, plant collections as part of botanical gardens and arboretums open to the public, or ecological restoration projects that do not require a permanent irrigation system. (Ord. 1480 (Exh. C (part)), 2015: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.030 Landscape design principles.

The following design principles are to be used by decision-makers in evaluating whether landscape plans conform to the requirements of this section:

A.    Natural Landscapes. Landscape designs should incorporate and enhance existing natural landscapes and existing specimen trees and native vegetation (including canopy, understory, and ground cover). Particular care should be given to preserve intact natural landscapes. Where previous landscaping has dramatically altered natural landscapes, new designs should seek to reestablish natural landscape patterns and plantings.

B.    Composition. The quality of a landscape design is dependent not only on the quantity and selection of plant materials but also on how that material is arranged. Landscape materials should be arranged in a manner as to provide the following qualities and characteristics:

1.    Texture. Landscape designs should provide a textured appearance through the use of a variety of plant material rather than a single species, by contrasting large leaf textures with medium and small leaf textures, and with a variety of plant heights. Spacing of key landscaping components, such as trees and shrubs, should be consistent with the overall design approach of the landscape plan. Formal landscape designs benefit from a uniform spacing of plants, whereas varied spacing and clustering of trees is more compatible with a naturalistic design.

2.    Color. Landscape designs shall include a variety of plants to provide contrasting color to other plants in the design. Designs are encouraged to include flowering plants and especially a mix of plants that display colorful flowers throughout the year.

3.    Form. Landscape designs should consider the complete three-dimensional form of the landscaping, not simply the form of individual elements. The interrelationship of all landscape elements should be considered so that the final design presents a coherent whole.

C.    Buffering and Screening. The placement of natural landscape materials (trees, shrubs, and hedges) is the preferred method for buffering differing land uses, for providing a transition between adjacent lots, and for screening the view of any parking or storage area, refuse collection, utility enclosures, or other service area visible from a public street, alley, or pedestrian area. Plants may be used with fences or berms to achieve the desired screening or buffering effect. Plant material should be mature enough at the time of planting to provide an effective buffer or screen, and should be planted in an appropriate location to allow for desired growth within a reasonable period of time. When used to screen an activity area such as a parking lot, landscaping shall not obstruct the visibility of motorists or pedestrians or interfere with public safety.

D.    Responsive to Local Context and Character. Landscape designs should build on the site’s and area’s unique physical characteristics, conserving and complementing existing natural features. Naturalistic design elements such as irregular plant spacing, undulating berm contours, and mixed proportions of plant species should be used to ensure that new landscaping blends in and contributes to the quality of the surrounding area. Selection and spacing of plant material should be reflective of the surrounding area’s character.

E.    Use of Native and Drought-Resistant Plants. Landscape designs should feature native and/or related plant species, especially in areas adjacent to existing native vegetation, to take advantage of the unique natural character and diversity of the San Francisco peninsula region and the adaptability of native plants to local environmental conditions. Where feasible, the re-establishment of native habitats should be incorporated into the landscape design. In the same manner, landscape designs should utilize drought-tolerant plant materials to the maximum extent feasible. The use of drought-tolerant plants should enrich the existing landscape character, conserve water and energy, and provide as pleasant and varied a visual appearance as plants that require more water.

F.    Continuity and Connection. Landscaping should be designed within the context of the surrounding area; provided, that the landscaping is also consistent with these design principles. Where the design intent and the surrounding landscape is naturalistic, plant materials should blend well with adjacent properties, particularly where property edges meet, to create a seamless and natural landscape. Where the design intent and the surrounding landscape is formal, consistent or similar plant material and spacing should be utilized. Exceptions should be made when seeking to create a transition between uses or zoning districts.

G.    Enhancing Architecture. Landscape designs should be compatible with and enhance the architectural character and features of the buildings on site, and help relate the building to the surrounding landscape. Major landscape elements should be designed to complement architectural elevations and roof lines through color, texture, density, and form on both vertical and horizontal planes. Landscaping should be in scale with on-site and adjacent buildings. Plant material shall be installed at an appropriate size and allowed to accomplish these intended goals. When foundation planting is required, plantings and window boxes should incorporate artistic elements and be compatible with a building’s architectural character. (Ord. 1480 (Exh. C (part)), 2015; Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.040 Landscape plans.

A landscape plan shall be submitted with the permit application for all projects for which landscaping is required.

A.    Information Required. Landscape plans shall be drawn to scale and shall include the following:

1.    Proposed plant locations, species, sizes, and plant factor. Plants with similar water needs shall be grouped together on the landscape plan. The plant factor, established in the California Department of Water Resources study, Water Use Classification of Landscape Species, shall be identified for all landscaped areas on a site. All water features shall be identified as high water use, and temporarily irrigated areas shall be identified as low water use.

2.    Location of any existing trees over six inches in diameter, as measured at forty-eight inches above natural grade, and whether each such tree is proposed for retention or removal.

3.    Measures to prepare the soil for planting based on soil texture, infiltration rate, pH, total soluble salts, sodium, and percent organic matter.

4.    A grading plan that indicates existing and proposed contours, height of graded slopes, drainage patterns, pad elevations, finish grade, and stormwater retention improvements.

5.    An irrigation plan that indicates the location, type and size of all components of the irrigation system, including automatic controllers, main and lateral lines, valves, sprinkler heads, moisture sensing devices, rain switches, quick couplers, and backflow prevention devices.

6.    Any additional proposed landscape elements and measures to facilitate plant growth or control erosion.

B.    Alternative Landscape Plan. An applicant may demonstrate that the intent of the landscape requirements of this section can be achieved through an alternative landscape plan. The alternative landscape plan shall be prepared in accord with the principles and design criteria set forth in this section and shall clearly describe the modifications being requested from the provision of this section and how they reflect one or more of the evaluation criteria listed below.

1.    Innovative use of plant materials and design techniques in response to unique characteristics of the site or the proposed use.

2.    Preservation or incorporation of existing native vegetation.

3.    Incorporation of naturalistic design principles, such as variations in topography, meandering or curvilinear plantings, and grouping of dominant plant materials (trees, large shrubs) in a manner consistent with existing native vegetation.

4.    Integration of landscaping and pedestrian facilities in a manner that improves access or incorporates pedestrian-friendly design. This may include reduced ground-level planting along the front setback if canopy shade trees along sidewalks are provided.

5.    Use of additional shade trees to create a greater canopy effect.

6.    A greater degree of compatibility with surrounding uses than a standard landscape plan would offer.

C.    Preparation by Qualified Person. Landscaping for commercial projects, industrial projects, institutional projects, and residential projects consisting of more than five units shall be prepared by a California registered landscape architect. (Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.050 Areas to be landscaped.

The following areas shall be landscaped, and may count toward the total area of site landscaping required by the zoning district regulations:

A.    Required Setbacks. All required front and street-facing side setbacks, except for areas used for exit and entry, shall be landscaped.


B.    Lot Perimeters. Landscape buffers shall be installed and maintained along side and rear lot lines between differing land uses, in accordance with the following standards:

1.    Required Landscape Buffers. Table 18.18.050-B(1), Required Landscape Buffers, shows when a buffer treatment is required, and of what type, based on the proposed and the adjoining use. Only the proposed use is required to provide the buffer yard. Adjoining uses are not required to provide the buffer yard. The type of buffer yard required refers to buffer yard-type designations as shown in Table 18.18.050-B(2), Buffer Yard Requirements. “-” means that a buffer yard is not required unless required by another section of this title.



Adjoining Use

Park or Open Space

Single-Unit Residential

Multi-Unit Residential


General Commercial


Multi-Unit Residential

Type 1

Type 1, Type 2 along East San Carlos Avenue






Type 2

Type 2

Type 2





Type 2

Type 2

Type 2



Type 1


Type 2

Type 2

Type 2

Type 2

Type 2


2.    Buffer Yard Types. Table 18.18.050-B(2), Buffer Yard Requirements, describes the minimum width, plant materials, and wall requirements for each type of buffer yard. The listed number of trees and shrubs is required for each one hundred lineal feet of buffer yard. Trees shall be planted at least forty feet on center. Natural areas with native vegetation or alternative planting materials which achieve equivalent buffering effects may be approved by the Director.


Buffer Yard Type

Minimum Width (ft.)



Canopy (mature height of 40 ft or more)

Understory (mature height of less than 40 ft.)

Large (mature spread of 2 ft. or more)

Small (mature spread of less than 2 ft.)

Type 1






Type 2







3.    Width Reduction for Adjacent Landscaped Buffer. If an equivalent landscape buffer exists on the adjacent lot, the width of the required buffer may be reduced fifty percent; provided, that the abutting property owners have provided a written agreement restricting the use of the adjacent landscape buffer.

C.    Building Perimeters. The portions of a building that front a public street shall have one or more landscape planters installed along a minimum twenty percent of that building face. The minimum width of the planter shall be three feet. This standard does not apply where a building is located on the front or street side property line.


D.    Parking Areas. Parking areas as required by Chapter 18.20, Parking and Loading.

E.    Unused Areas. All areas of a project site not intended for a specific use, including areas planned for future phases of a phased development, shall be landscaped or left in a natural state. (Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.060 General landscaping standards.

A.    Materials.

1.    General. Landscaping may consist of a combination of ground covers, shrubs, vines, and trees. Landscaping may also include incidental features such as stepping stones, benches, fountains, sculptures, decorative stones, or other ornamental features, placed within a landscaped setting. Landscaped areas may include paved or graveled surfaces, provided they do not cover more than ten percent of the area required to be landscaped. Plant materials shall be selected from among those species and varieties known to thrive in the San Carlos climate and, where applicable, selected from an approved list maintained by the City. Recirculating water shall be used for decorative water features. Garden areas and other areas dedicated to edible plants are considered landscaped areas and count toward required landscaping.

2.    Ground Cover Materials. Ground cover shall be of live plant material. Ground cover may include grasses. Nonplant materials such as gravel, colored rock, cinder, bark, and similar materials may not be used to meet the minimum planting area requirements required by this section, except with approval of an alternative landscape plan under Section 18.18.040(B).

3.    Turf Allowance/Drought-Tolerant Materials. The maximum amount of lawn in required landscape areas shall be twenty-five percent, except for turf areas that comprise an essential component of a project (e.g., golf courses or playing fields), which are exempt from this limit. The installation of turf on slopes greater than twenty-five percent is prohibited. The use of drought-tolerant plant materials is preferred to conserve the City’s water resources.

4.    Mulch. A minimum two-inch layer of mulch shall be applied on all exposed soil surfaces of planting areas except in turf areas, creeping or rooting ground covers or other special planting situations where mulch is not recommended. Stabilizing mulching products shall be used on slopes.

5.    Size and Spacing. Plant materials shall be grouped in hydrozones in accordance with their respective water, cultural (soil, climate, sun and light) and maintenance needs. Plants shall be of the following size and spacing at the time of installation:

a.    Ground Covers. Ground cover plants other than grasses must be at least the four-inch pot size. Areas planted in ground cover plants other than grass seed or sod must be planted at a rate of one per twelve inches on center.

b.    Shrubs. Shrubs shall be a minimum size of one gallon. When planted to serve as a hedge or screen, shrubs shall be planted with two to four feet of spacing, depending on the plant species.

c.    Trees. A minimum of fifteen percent of the trees planted shall be twenty-four-inch box or greater in size. All other trees shall be a minimum of fifteen gallons in size with a one-inch diameter at forty-eight inches from grade. Newly planted trees shall be supported with stakes or guy wires.

B.    Dimension of Landscaped Areas. No landscaped area smaller than three feet in any horizontal dimension shall count toward required landscaping.

C.    Prescribed Heights. The prescribed heights of landscaping shall indicate the height to be attained within three years after planting.

D.    Drivers’ Visibility. Trees and shrubs shall be planted and maintained so that at maturity they do not interfere with traffic safety sight areas, or public safety. Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, landscaping must comply with Section 18.15.130, Visibility at intersections and driveways. (Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.070 Trees.

A.    Intent and Purpose. This chapter is adopted with the intent and purpose of promoting the preservation and development of a healthy, diverse tree canopy in San Carlos, which is highly valued by the community and is vital to the character and health of the City.

Protected trees are valued for their many contributions to the environment, public health and quality of life of the San Carlos community. Examples of those benefits include:

1.    Provide shade;

2.    Resiliency to climate change;

3.    Improve air quality;

4.    Provide shelter from wind;

5.    Prevent erosion and landslides;

6.    Protect against flood hazards;

7.    Add to the City’s scenic beauty and character;

8.    Recognize historical significance to our City;

9.    Create natural gathering places;

10.    Reduce noise pollution;

11.    Enhance privacy;

12.    Enhance neighborhood property values;

13.    Provide habitat for wildlife;

14.    Improve storm water management and improve water quality;

15.    Offset carbon emissions;

16.    Minimize the urban heat island effect.

B.    Definitions.

1.    “Applicant” is the person seeking a permit to remove or perform pruning on a protected tree under this chapter.

2.    “Administrative guidelines” means staff-prepared regulations for implementation and interpretation of this chapter.

3.    “Construction activity” means any construction work associated with or requiring a permit for any new building, building addition, building demolition, grading, excavation or paving. This includes all necessary related activities which may or may not be shown on site plans, including but not limited to: storing/staging of materials, site access, parking, placement of temporary structures, debris disposal, additional excavation and landscaping.

4.    “Pruning” means the removal of one-fourth (25%) or more than one-fourth (25%) of the crown or existing foliage of the tree or one-fourth (25%) or more than one-fourth (25%) of the root system.

5.    “Trimming” means the cutting or removal of a portion of a tree which removes less than one-fourth (25%) of the crown or existing foliage of a tree, removes less than one-fourth (25%) of the root system, and does not kill the tree.

6.    “City arborist” means City-retained arborist.

7.    “Community of trees” means a group or grove of trees that are dependent upon each other for their survival and/or structural stability.

8.    “Tree protection zone (TPZ)” means the area surrounding a tree to be protected based upon tree species, age, health, soil, and proposed construction. The TPZ shall have a radius measured from the trunk equal to ten times the diameter of the trunk measured at fifty-four inches (54") above grade or as otherwise specified by a project arborist and approved by the City Arborist.

9.    “Removal” means cutting to the ground, complete extraction, or killing by spraying, girdling, or any other means; or pruning not done in conformance with a permit.

10.    “Protected tree” means any significant or heritage tree, any tree as part of a replacement requirement, an approved development permit or an approved landscaping plan. The following trees shall not be classified as protected trees regardless of size:

a.    Bailey, Green or Black Acacia: A. baileyana, A. decurrens or A. melanoxylon;

b.    Tree of Heaven: Ailianthus altissima;

c.    Fruit trees of any kind;

d.    Monterey Pine: Pinus radiata;

e.    Eucalyptus genera;

f.    Monocot trees including palms and palm relatives.

11.    “Heritage tree” means any:

a.    Indigenous tree whose size, as measured at fifty-four inches (54") above natural grade (unless otherwise indicated), is defined below:

i.    Aesculus californica (buckeye) with a single stem or multiple stems touching each other at fifty-four inches (54") above natural grade and measuring nine inches (9") in diameter or greater.

ii.    Arbutus menziesii (madrone) with a single stem or multiple stems touching each other at fifty-four inches (54") above natural grade and measuring nine inches (9") in diameter or greater.

iii.    Quercus agrifolia (coast live oak) measuring nine inches (9") in diameter or greater.

iv.    Quercus lobata (valley oak) measuring nine inches (9") in diameter or greater.

v.    Quercus douglassii (blue oak) measuring nine inches (9") in diameter or greater.

vi.    Quercus wislizneii (interior live oak) measuring nine inches (9") in diameter or greater.

vii.    Sequoia sempervirens (redwood) measuring fifteen inches (15") in diameter or greater.

viii.    Umbrellularia californica (California bay laurel) with a single stem or multiple stems touching each other at fifty-four inches (54") above natural grade and measuring eleven inches (11") in diameter or greater.

Heritage Tree Species

Minimum Protected Diameter

Aesculus californica (buckeye)

9" diameter or greater

Arbutus menziesii (madrone)

9" diameter or greater

Quercus agrifolia (coast live oak)

9" diameter or greater

Quercus lobata (valley oak)

9" diameter or greater

Quercus douglassii (blue oak)

9" diameter or greater

Quercus wislizneii (interior live oak)

9" diameter or greater

Sequoia sempervirens (redwood)

15" diameter or greater

Umbellularia californica (California bay laurel)

11" diameter or greater

b.    Community of trees;

c.    Trees designated by the City Council, based upon findings that the particular tree is unique and of importance to the public due to its unusual age, appearance, location or other factors.

12.    “Significant tree” means any tree that is eleven inches (11") in diameter (or more), outside of bark, measured at fifty-four inches (54") above natural grade. The following trees shall not be classified as significant or heritage trees regardless of size:

a.    Bailey, Green or Black Acacia: A. baileyana, A. decurrens or A. melanoxylon;

b.    Tree of Heaven: Ailianthus altissima;

c.    Fruit trees of any kind;

d.    Monterey Pine: Pinus radiata;

e.    Eucalyptus genera;

f.    Monocot trees including palms and palm relatives.

C.    Trees. Trees shall be provided as follows:

1.    RS districts: one (1) tree for every one thousand (1,000) square feet of lot coverage for residential development; one (1) tree for every two thousand (2,000) square feet of lot coverage for nonresidential development.

2.    RM and mixed-use districts: one (1) tree for every two thousand (2,000) square feet of lot coverage.

3.    Commercial districts: one (1) tree for every two thousand (2,000) square feet of lot coverage.

4.    Industrial districts: one (1) tree for every five thousand (5,000) square feet of lot coverage.

5.    If the lot size or other site conditions make planting of the required trees impractical to comply with, the applicant, at the discretion of the Director and City Arborist, may pay a fee as adopted in a resolution by the City Council.

6.    If the required number and size of trees, not including fruit trees, already exist on the site, the applicant may not be required to plant new trees on site unless as required per the City Arborist, replacement requirement and/or an associated condition of approval. Instead, the existing trees shall be shown on the site and landscape plans submitted to the Planning Division, and those trees shall be maintained in compliance with the standards of this chapter.

7.    Street-oriented trees: at least one (1) of the required on-site trees must be street oriented unless otherwise approved by the City Arborist.

8.    Any tree planted to meet the requirements of this section shall be a minimum of twenty-four inches (24") box size, unless otherwise specified by the City Arborist.

9.    Any tree planted to meet the requirements under this section shall not include Bailey, Green or Black Acacia: A. baileyana, A. decurrens or A. melanoxylon; Tree of Heaven: Ailianthus altissima; fruit trees of any kind; Monterey Pine: Pinus radiata; Eucalyptus genera; Monocot trees including palms and palm relatives.

D.    Maintenance and Preservation of Protected Trees. The following requirements apply to protected trees, as defined in this chapter and Section 18.41.020:

1.    No protected tree shall be removed, pruned, or otherwise materially altered without a permit except as provided in this section. Trimming of a protected tree is allowed without such a permit.

2.    Chemicals or other construction materials shall not be stored within the tree protection zone of protected trees.

3.    Drains shall be provided as required by the City Arborist whenever soil fill is placed around protected trees. Soil fill shall not be placed around protected trees without approval by an ISA-certified arborist.

4.    Signs, wires or similar devices shall not be attached to protected trees.

5.    Any construction activity performed within an area ten (10) times the diameter of a protected tree on any property or in the public right-of-way shall require submittal and implementation of a tree protection plan for review and approval by the City Arborist prior to issuance of any grading or construction permit. The tree protection plan shall be prepared by an ISA-certified arborist and shall address issues related to protective fencing and protective techniques as specified in the administrative guidelines to minimize impacts associated with grading, excavation, demolition and construction. The City Arborist may impose conditions on any City permit to assure compliance with this section. These trees and protection zones shall be identified on plans.

6.    If the proposed development, including any site work for the development, will encroach upon the tree protection zone of a protected tree, special measures shall be utilized, as approved by the City Arborist, to allow the roots to obtain oxygen, water, and nutrients as needed. Any excavation, cutting, filling, or compaction of the existing ground surface within the protected perimeter, if authorized at all by the review authority, shall be minimized and subject to such conditions as may be imposed by the review authority. No significant change in existing ground level shall be made within the tree protection zone of a protected tree except as approved by the City Arborist. No burning or use of equipment with an open flame shall occur near or within the protected perimeter.

7.    Underground trenching for utilities shall avoid major support and absorbing tree roots of protected trees. If avoidance is impractical, tunnels shall be made below the roots. Trenches shall be consolidated to service as many units as possible. Trenching within the tree protection zone of protected trees shall be avoided to the greatest extent possible and shall only be done under the at-site directions of a certified arborist and with approval by the City Arborist.

8.    No concrete or asphalt paving shall be placed over the tree protection zone of oaks except as approved by the City Arborist.

9.    No compaction of the soil within the tree protection zone of protected trees shall occur.

E.    Removal and/or Pruning of Protected Trees Prohibited. It is unlawful for any person to remove, or cause to be removed, any protected tree from any parcel of property in the city, or perform pruning on a protected tree, without obtaining a permit; provided, that in case of emergency, when a protected tree is imminently hazardous or dangerous to life or property, it may be removed by order of the City Arborist. Any person who vandalizes, grievously mutilates, destroys or unbalances a protected tree without a permit or beyond the scope of an approved permit shall be in violation of this chapter.

F.    Protected Tree Removal Permit and Decision-Making Criteria.

1.    Application. Application and fees for protected tree removal permits and/or pruning of a protected tree shall be submitted in accordance with the provisions set forth in Chapter 18.27, Common Procedures, and the administrative guidelines. The application shall state, among other things per the administrative guidelines, the number and location of the tree(s) to be removed or pruned by type and the reason for removal or pruning of each. The application shall also include a recent colored photograph with correct botanical identification of the subject tree(s).

2.    Decision-Making Criteria. The City Arborist may only issue a permit for the removal and/or pruning of a protected tree if he/she/they determines there is good cause for such action. In determining whether there is good cause, the City Arborist shall give consideration to the following:

a.    Death. The protected tree is dead as designated by the City Arborist.

b.    Tree Risk Rating. The condition of the protected tree poses a high or extreme risk rating under the International Society of Arboriculture Best Management Practices: Tree Risk Assessment and/or administrative guidelines; and the risk cannot be reasonably abated to a low risk rating with sound arboricultural treatments. The City Arborist may consider danger to people and property in assessing the risk to make a decision.

c.    Tree Health Rating. The protected tree is (i) dying or has a severe disease, pest infestation, intolerance to adverse site conditions, or other condition and/or pruning or other reasonable treatments based on current arboricultural standards will not restore the protected tree to a fair, good or excellent health rating as defined in the Guide for Plant Appraisal, 10th Edition, or its successor manual or the administrative guidelines; or is (ii) likely to die within a year as designated by an ISA-certified arborist and/or the City Arborist.

d.    Species. The protected tree is a member of a species that has been designated as invasive or low species desirability by the City Arborist or his/her/their designee in the administrative guidelines.

e.    Development. The protected tree interferes with existing or proposed development, repair, alteration or improvement of a site or the protected tree is causing/contributing to structural damage to a habitable building (excluding amenities, such as walkways, patios, pools and fire pits); and there is no reasonable design alternative that would permit preservation of the protected tree while achieving the applicant’s reasonable development objectives or of the property. Necessary documentation and/or tree appraisals as established in the administrative guidelines shall be submitted to the City Arborist demonstrating infeasibility of alternatives to the removal and/or pruning.

f.    Utility Interference. The removal and/or pruning is requested by a utility, public transportation agency, or other governmental agency due to a health or safety risk resulting from the protected tree’s interference with existing or planned public infrastructure and there is no reasonable design alternative that would permit preservation of the protected tree. Necessary documentation as established in the administrative guidelines shall be submitted to the City Arborist demonstrating infeasibility of alternatives to the removal and/or pruning.

3.    Review. In reviewing applications for removal and/or pruning of protected trees, the City Arborist shall give priority to those based on hazard or danger of disease. The City Arborist may refer any application to another department, committee, board or commission of the City for a report and recommendation, and may require the applicant to provide an arborist’s report which shall be reviewed by the City Arborist.

4.    Applicants may choose to professionally move a protected tree on site to accommodate proposed development, repair, alteration or improvement of a site. Any tree proposed to be moved will be construed as tree removed and shall comply with application procedures as set forth within this chapter and the administrative guidelines. The City Arborist may require documentation to certify that the moving work was accomplished according to acceptable tree moving standards and specifications. Additional documentation may be required to prove feasibility of moving, establishing and maintaining the moved protected tree.

5.    Noticing Requirements.

a.    Notice Before Issuance. Before a protected tree is removed or pruned, notice of removal shall be posted by the applicant on the property containing the protected tree at a conspicuous location when a permit is sought under subsection (F)(2)(e), Development, or (F)(2)(f), Utility Interference, of this section. Property owners within three hundred feet of the exterior boundary of the property containing the protected tree shall be noticed by mail of the pending application. Failure to receive copies of such notice shall not invalidate any action taken by the City.

b.    Notice of Issuance. Upon receipt of a tree removal or pruning permit, the property owner shall post a notice of issuance of any permit for a tree removal at the subject property for a period of fourteen (14) calendar days. A proof of posting shall be sent to the City Arborist. The City will furnish the owner with a copy of the notice of issuance.

6.    Conditions and Replacement Trees. In granting a tree removal permit, the City Arborist may attach reasonable conditions to ensure compliance with the content and purpose of this chapter, such as, but not limited to, the following:

a.    Replacement tree(s) for heritage tree removals shall be from the heritage tree list, with the exception of redwood trees, at a one-to-one (1:1) ratio of a size, as determined by the City Arborist and/or specified in the administrative guidelines. The City Arborist may allow a species not on the heritage tree list if:

i.    The species from the heritage tree list is proven to be unsuitable at a given location per an ISA-certified arborist and/or the City Arborist.

b.    Replacement tree(s) for all other significant tree removals shall be at a one-to-one (1:1) ratio of a size, as determined by the City Arborist and/or as specified in the administrative guidelines.

c.    Replacement trees shall be planted within four (4) months of the permit issuance unless the replacement tree is part of an approved landscape plan associated with a development project, or upon approval by the City Arborist.

d.    Any tree planted to meet the requirements under this section shall not include Bailey, Green or Black Acacia: A. baileyana, A. decurrens or A. melanoxylon; Tree of Heaven: Ailianthus altissima; fruit trees of any kind; Monterey Pine: Pinus radiata; Eucalyptus genera; Monocot trees including palms and palm relatives.

e.    Special construction to allow irrigation and aeration of roots and preservation of the protected tree.

f.    Tree wells or other tree protection techniques.

g.    Protected tree maintenance requirements to help the tree grow and thrive.

h.    Other reasonable requirements per the City Arborist.

7.    Emergencies. If an emergency develops regarding a protected tree removal and/or pruning which requires immediate response for the safety of life or property, action may be taken by obtaining oral permission of the City Arborist, notwithstanding other provisions contained in this chapter. Such emergencies shall be exempt from protected tree permit application procedures; however, replacement shall occur as provided in this chapter.

8.    Expiration. If no action on an approved tree removal permit is taken within a period of one (1) year from the date of approval, the permit shall be considered void.

9.    Appeals. Tree removal permit decisions are subject to the appeal provisions of Section 18.27.150, Appeals.

10.    Administrative Guidelines. The Director shall have the authority to adopt and modify administrative guidelines to implement this chapter.

G.    Violation. In addition to the provisions of Chapter 18.39, Enforcement and Abatement Procedures, and Chapter 1.20, Penalties, any person who removes or causes to be removed any protected tree, the following shall apply:

1.    If a violation occurs during development, the City may issue a stop work order suspending and prohibiting further activity on the property pursuant to the grading, demolition, and/or building permit(s) (including construction, inspection, and issuance of certificates of occupancy) until a mitigation plan has been filed with and approved by the City Arborist, agreed to in writing by the property owner(s), and either implemented or guaranteed by the posting of adequate security as determined by the City.

2.    Any person violating this chapter shall be subject to a civil fine or penalty in the amount established by this section. If a person commits or maintains a violation of any part of Chapter 18.18, he/she/they will be fined in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) per violation; and if the violation resulted in the removal or demise of a protected tree, the fine will not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) per tree or the appraised value of each such tree, as determined by an ISA-certified arborist in consultation with the City Arborist, whichever amount is higher. The arborist shall use the then-current issue of “A Guide to Plant Appraisal” published by the International Society of Arboriculture or as specified in the administrative guidelines. Replacement shall occur as established in this chapter.

3.    The Code Enforcement Officer, Director, Building Official, City Arborist or designee are authorized to issue stop work orders, notices of violation, administrative penalties and citations under this chapter.

4.    Any citation or penalty received under this chapter may be appealed to the Zoning Administrator or designee whose determination shall be final. Such appeal must be filed within ten (10) days of receipt of the citation or penalty.

5.    Whenever the amount of any administrative fine or penalty or administrative cost incurred by the City in connection with a violation of this chapter has not been satisfied in full within ninety (90) days and/or has not been successfully challenged by a timely writ of mandate, this obligation may constitute a lien or, in the alternative, a special assessment against the real property on which the violation occurred.

6.    The City Attorney may bring a civil action against the violator to abate, enjoin, or otherwise compel the cessation of violation of any provision in this chapter. In a civil action brought pursuant to this chapter in which the City prevails, the court may award to the City all costs of investigation and preparation for trial, the costs of trial, reasonable expenses, including overhead and administrative costs incurred in prosecuting the action, and reasonable attorney fees.

7.    The remedies provided in this section may be enforced against both the contractor and other person performing work in violation of this chapter as well as the owner of the real property on which the protected tree is located.

8.    All remedies provided in this section shall be cumulative and are not exclusive. (Ord. 1580 § 3 (Exh. A), 2022; Ord. 1480 (Exh. C (part)), 2015; Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.080 Water efficient landscaping and irrigation.

Landscaping shall be designed and plantings selected so that water use is minimized. The estimated total water use (ETWU) of the proposed landscaping on a site shall not exceed the maximum applied water allowance (MAWA). Calculating MAWA and ETWU is described in subsections A and B of this section. Variables used in the calculations are defined in subsection C of this section.

A.    Calculating Maximum Applied Water Allowance (MAWA). MAWA shall be calculated as follows:

MAWA = (26.54)[(0.7 x LA) + (0.3 x SLA)]

B.    Calculating Estimated Total Water Use (ETWU). ETWU shall be calculated as follows:

ETWU = (26.54)[(PFA)/IE + (SLA)]

C.    Variables Used in Water Efficiency Calculations.

1.    Landscaped Area (LA). Total landscaped area, expressed in square feet, including all areas dedicated to planting, turf, and water features. The landscape area does not include footprints of building or structures, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, decks, patios, gravel or stone walks, or other pervious or nonpervious hardscapes, and other nonirrigated areas designated for nondevelopment (e.g., open spaces and existing native vegetation). Landscaped area (LA) includes special landscaped areas (SLA).

2.    Special Landscaped Areas (SLA). Area of landscape, expressed in square feet, dedicated solely to edible plants, areas irrigated with recycled water, water features using recycled water, and areas dedicated to active play such as parks, sports fields, golf courses, and where turf provides a playing surface.

3.    Plant Factor Adjustment (PFA). The sum of the products of the area in each planting type multiplied by the plant factor established in the California Department of Water Resources study, Water Use Classification of Landscape Species, for that planting type.

4.    Irrigation Efficiency (IE). Amount of water beneficially used divided by the amount of water applied. IE value is 0.71 unless verification is provided that greater irrigation efficiency can be expected due to irrigation system design and maintenance. (Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.090 Irrigation specifications.

An irrigation system shall be installed that consists of low-volume sprinkler heads, dry emitters, and bubbler emitters with automatic controllers. Each system shall be designed to provide adequate coverage to all plant material. Irrigation systems shall be designed, maintained, and managed to meet or exceed 0.71 IV value for irrigation efficiency.

A.    Irrigation systems and decorative water features shall be designed to allow for the current and future use of recycled water and shall use recycled water unless a written exemption has been granted by the City, stating that recycled water meeting all public health codes and standards is not available and will not be available for the foreseeable future.

B.    Soil types and infiltration rate shall be considered when designing irrigation systems.

C.    All irrigation systems shall be designed to avoid runoff, low head drainage, overspray, or other similar conditions where water flows onto adjacent property, nonirrigated areas, walks, roadways, or structures.

D.    Proper irrigation equipment and schedules, including features such as repeat cycles, shall be used to closely match application rates to infiltration rates therefore minimizing runoff.

E.    Overhead irrigation is prohibited within twenty-four inches of any nonpermeable surface. Overhead irrigation shall be scheduled between eight p.m. and ten a.m. unless weather conditions prevent it.

F.    The irrigation plans shall include the following to provide better water efficiency for all landscaped areas:

1.    Equipment.

a.    Drip and bubbler systems shall be used in areas where watering needs do not exceed one and one-half gallons per minute per device.

b.    Slopes greater than twenty-five percent shall not be irrigated with an irrigation system with a precipitation rate exceeding three-quarters of an inch per hour unless it is demonstrated that no runoff or erosion will occur.

2.    Water Meters. Separate landscape water meters shall be installed for all projects except for single-family homes or any project with a landscaped area of less than five thousand square feet.

3.    Controllers. Automatic control systems shall be required for all irrigation systems and must be able to accommodate all aspects of the design. Automatic controllers shall be digital, and should have multiple programs, multiple cycles, and sensor input capabilities.

4.    Valves. Plants which require different amounts of water shall be irrigated by separate valves. If one valve is used for a given area, only plants with similar water use shall be used in that area.

a.    Anti-drain (check) valves shall be installed in strategic points to minimize or prevent low-head drainage.

b.    Manual shut-off valves are required as close as possible to the point of connection of the water supply.

5.    Sprinkler Heads. Heads and emitters shall have consistent application rates within each control valve circuit. Sprinkler heads shall be selected for proper area coverage, application rate, operating pressure, adjustment capability, and ease of maintenance.

6.    Rain or Moisture Sensor Devices. Soil moisture sensors and rain or moisture-sensing override devices are required. (Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.100 Installation and completion.

A.    Consistency with Approved Plans. All landscaping shall be installed consistent with approved plans and specifications, in a manner designed to promote and maintain healthy plant growth.

B.    Timing of Installation. Required landscaping shall be installed prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the project.

C.    Exception—Assurance of Landscaping Completion. The Director may permit the required landscaping to be installed within one hundred twenty days after the issuance of a certificate of occupancy in special circumstances related to weather conditions or plant availability. A surety in the amount equal to one hundred fifty percent of the estimated cost of landscaping, including materials and labor, as well as an agreement that the required landscaping will be installed within one hundred twenty days, must be filed with the City to assure completion of landscaping installation within such time. The surety may take the form of cash deposit, irrevocable letter of credit or bond; and together with the agreement, would provide for payment to the City of any costs incurred in contracting for completion of the required landscaping.

D.    Certification of Substantial Completion. Upon completion of the installation of the landscaping and irrigation system, a field observation shall be completed by the licensed project contractor. A certificate of substantial completion shall be submitted to the City by the licensed project contractor. The certificate shall specifically indicate that the plants were installed as specified and that the irrigation system was installed as designed, along with a list of any deficiencies. (Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.110 Maintenance.

A.    Responsibility. The City is responsible for trimming and maintaining public trees and landscaping, and private property owners are responsible for trimming and maintaining private trees and landscaping.

1.    “Public trees and landscaping” means any landscaping located within any street median, City park or other parcel of publicly owned property, including any tree located in a City maintained park strip on Laurel Street, and San Carlos Avenue (1100 and 1200 blocks only).

2.    “Private trees and landscaping” means any landscaping located within the boundaries of privately owned property, and includes any landscaping located within any unimproved public right-of-way abutting a private property and in any park strip or sidewalk abutting a private property.

B.    General. All planting and other landscape elements required by this chapter shall be permanently maintained in good growing condition. Wherever necessary, plantings shall be replaced with other plant materials to ensure continued compliance with applicable landscaping requirements.

C.    Public Safety. Property owners of lots fronting on any portion of a street shall maintain private trees and landscaping in such condition that the trees or landscaping will not interfere with the public safety and convenience in the use of the streets or sidewalks. Such owners shall also maintain such trees so that there is an eight-foot pedestrian clearance from the top of the sidewalk or pathway, and a thirteen-foot vehicular clearance from the top of the curb or top of the pavement.

1.    The Public Works Director may inspect any and all trees, shrubs and landscaping that occur within, or overhang or project into, a street or sidewalk to determine whether any of the same create an obstruction or a hazard to the public.

2.    Upon determining that an obstruction or hazard exists, the Public Works Director shall give written notice to the owner, in person or by mailing a notice to his last known address, as the same appears on the last equalized assessment roll of the County, to remove or abate the obstruction or the hazard within two weeks from the date of the notice.

3.    If a property owner fails or refuses to abate a nuisance, the City may abate the condition and the City’s cost of such abatement shall be reimbursed to the City by the property owner.

D.    Visibility. Any shrubs, trees, or other foliage which, in the opinion of the Sheriff’s Captain, obscures safe sight distance from driveways and corners shall be trimmed by the property owner to a condition satisfactory to the Sheriff’s Captain.

E.    Trees. Trees shall be maintained to be free from physical damage or injury arising from lack of water, chemical damage, accidents, vandalism, insects and disease. Any tree showing such damage to the extent that its life would be impaired shall be replaced with another tree. (Ord. 1480 (Exh. C (part)), 2015; Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.18.120 Liability limitations.

Nothing contained in this chapter shall be deemed to impose any liability upon the City, its officers or employees, nor to relieve the owner of any private property from the duty to keep trees, protected trees, shrubs, hedges, and other landscaping upon such private property, or under his control, or upon streets in front of or contiguous to such private property, in a safe condition. (Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)