Chapter 16.25


16.25.010    Title.

16.25.020    Application.

16.25.030    Purpose.

16.25.040    Authority.

16.25.050    Permit – Requirements.

16.25.060    Tree removal, cutting, and pruning limitations.

16.25.070    Best pruning practices.

16.25.080    Tree replacement.

16.25.085    Off-site mitigation and fees paid in lieu.

16.25.090    Tree permit – Application.

16.25.100    Permit – Expiration – Extension.

16.25.110    Tree permit to be posted.

16.25.120    Fees.

16.25.010 Title.

This chapter shall be entitled “Trees.” [Ord. 1611 § 1, 2014.]

16.25.020 Application.

This chapter shall apply to the removal, cutting, and pruning of trees within the City. [Ord. 1611 § 2, 2014.]

16.25.030 Purpose.

These regulations are adopted to promote the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Des Moines, including minimizing erosion, siltation and water pollution, surface water and ground water runoff, risks of landslides, and the need for additional storm drainage facilities; preserving trees for the reduction of noise, wind protection, slope stabilization, animal habitat, and reduction in air pollution; removing dead, diseased, or hazardous trees; implementing the City’s Comprehensive Plan; providing for the delivery of reliable utility service; and reasonable development of property. [Ord. 1611 § 3, 2014.]

16.25.040 Authority.

This chapter is adopted pursuant to the authority set forth in chapters 36.70A, 36.70B and 36.70C RCW and other applicable laws. [Ord. 1611 § 4, 2014.]

16.25.050 Permit – Requirements.

(1) No Tree Permit Required. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) of this section, no tree permit is required to remove, cut, or prune trees on private developed, partially developed, or undeveloped lots as follows:

(a) Trees located outside of environmentally critical areas, shoreline areas, and associated buffer areas as verified by the City or qualified professional;

(b) Trees that are not part of a required landscaping area;

(c) The total area to be cleared is less than 2,000 square feet; and

(d) An exemption from a tree permit does not exempt a property owner from complying with policies, criteria and standards contained in this chapter or other applicable local, state or federal regulations or permit requirements.

(2) Tree Permit Required. Except as exempted in subsection (3) of this section, a tree permit is required to remove, cut, or prune trees as follows:

(a) Trees located within a critical area or shoreline area, or associated buffers.

(b) Trees located within a required landscaping area.

(c) Trees located on a private developed, partially developed, or undeveloped lot where the total area to be cleared is 2,000 square feet or greater.

(d) Trees located on City-owned property.

(e) Trees located on City right-of-way.

(3) Exemptions. The following situations are exempt from obtaining a tree permit that would otherwise be required under this section:

(a) Dead, diseased or hazard trees, as determined and/or verified by the City or as determined by a certified arborist, that are located outside of critical areas, shoreline areas and associated buffers.

(b) Emergency. A tree may be removed without first obtaining a tree permit in an emergency situation involving immediate danger to life or property provided the City is notified within seven days of the tree being cut, is provided such additional information as the City requests in order to verify the emergency, and an after-the-fact tree permit is obtained within 20 days following the cutting of the tree, if required.

(c) Exemption from the permit requirements of this chapter shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this Code or any other laws or ordinances of the City.

(4) Other Permits Required. Other permits may be required as follows:

(a) Removing, cutting, or pruning of trees located within environmentally critical areas or the associated buffer shall be reviewed in accordance with the environmentally critical areas regulations codified in chapter 16.10 DMMC.

(b) Removing, cutting, or pruning of trees located within shoreline environments or the associated buffer shall be reviewed in accordance with the shoreline master program codified in chapter 16.20 DMMC.

(c) Removing, cutting, or pruning of trees in a required landscaping area is subject to the landscaping and screening provisions codified in chapter 18.195 DMMC, and/or the requirements identified on the final plat.

(d) Removing, cutting, or pruning of trees located within the City right-of-way shall be reviewed in accordance with the use and maintenance of public rights-of-way provisions codified in chapter 12.05 DMMC.

(e) Removal, cutting, or pruning of trees that results in a total area of disturbance greater than 2,000 square feet shall be reviewed in accordance with the land clearing, grading, and filling provisions codified in chapter 14.20 DMMC. [Ord. 1611 § 5, 2014.]

16.25.060 Tree removal, cutting, and pruning limitations.

In addition to the best pruning practices provisions codified in DMMC 16.25.070, the following limitations shall apply to removing, cutting, and pruning of trees:

(1) Trees on Private Developed, Partially Developed, or Undeveloped Lots. No limitations other than a tree permit is required where the total area to be cleared is 2,000 square feet or greater.

(2) Trees on City-Owned Property.

(a) Removal of dead, diseased or hazard trees as determined and/or verified by the City or as determined by a certified arborist;

(b) Removal of small trees;

(c) Tree pruning that does not remove more than 25 percent of a tree’s total leaf area;

(d) Removal of significant trees; provided, that the removal of significant trees is subject to tree replacement ratio of 3:1.

(3) Trees on City Right-of-Way. Tree pruning does not remove more than 25 percent of a tree’s total leaf area. [Ord. 1611 § 6, 2014.]

16.25.070 Best pruning practices.

Tree pruning shall conform to the International Society of Arboriculture standards, or other standards approved by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and/or the Department of Ecology (DOE), to maintain trees within environmentally critical areas and shoreline areas in a healthy and safe condition. [Ord. 1611 § 7, 2014.]

16.25.080 Tree replacement.

(1) Replacement Trees – Number. Any tree identified to be retained that is removed, destroyed or damaged shall be replaced by the applicant on the subject property at a ratio of 3:1:

(a) Replacement trees shall be a minimum size of eight feet in height for evergreen trees, and two inches in caliper for deciduous, and shall be approved by the Planning, Building and Public Works Department. The Planning, Building and Public Works Department may approve smaller trees if it determines they are of specimen quality.

(b) Trees shall be provided in addition to any street trees required under chapter 12.15 DMMC. The exact type and location of street trees shall be determined by the Planning, Building and Public Works Department.

(2) Maintenance of Replacement Trees. The applicant shall maintain all replacement trees in a healthy condition. The applicant shall be obligated to replant any replacement tree that dies or becomes diseased. [Ord. 1611 § 8, 2014.]

16.25.085 Off-site mitigation and fees paid in lieu.

Where an applicant cannot provide for the minimum required replacement trees on site, off-site mitigation for private developments or a fee-in-lieu payment into the City’s urban forestry fund for public developments may be approved by the Community Development Director.

(1) Where off-site mitigation is utilized, the remaining required replacement trees must be planted at an off-site location approved by the Director. Where the site is City-owned property, the public works and/or parks department must also approve the tree planting. Acceptable off-site locations, in order of priority, are as follows:

(a) Publicly owned land in the City of Des Moines including but not limited to: environmentally sensitive areas; regional surface water facilities; or wildlife corridors. Similar lands owned by nonprofit entities that are reserved in open space also qualify.

(b) Publicly owned parks or recreational facilities within the City of Des Moines.

(c) Other mitigation or restoration sites managed by other public entities or private conservation groups.

(d) Public school sites within the City of Des Moines.

(e) Other sites proposed by the applicant, when it is documented that higher priority sites are not available or viable.

(2) Where use of a tree replacement fee is approved by the Director, the fee shall be paid into the City’s urban forestry fund established in DMMC 3.51.150. The fee shall be established based on the number of replacement trees being satisfied as follows: The fee for each replacement tree shall cover the cost of a tree of the required size and type, installation (labor and equipment), maintenance for two years, and fund administration. [Ord. 1694 § 1, 2017.]

16.25.090 Tree permit – Application.

An application for a tree permit shall be submitted on a form provided by the City and shall include the following information:

(1) General Information.

(a) The applicant shall give the name, address and telephone number of the applicant and owner of the property and the street address;

(b) The applicant must provide information on the proposed location, species, diameter and number of trees proposed to be cut or pruned; and

(c) The applicant must agree to pay all costs of cutting, pruning, removing debris, cleaning, and any traffic control needed;

(d) If the applicant is not the owner of the property, a notarized authorization by the property owner consenting to the tree cutting activity shall be provided.

(2) Plan Sheet Specifications. All plan sheets will contain the following information:

(a) The date, basis, and datum of the contours, which shall be referenced to the City’s network of benchmarks, if applicable;

(b) Date, north arrow, and adequate scale (1:10, 1:20, or 1:40) on all maps and plans;

(c) Contours will be at two-foot contour intervals;

(d) Contact information for the applicant and the property owner, and legal description of the property.

(3) Temporary Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan.

(a) Sequence for tree removal and other land-disturbing activities;

(b) Schedule for installation and removal of all temporary erosion and sediment control measures, including vegetative measures; and

(c) An outline of the methods to be used in clearing vegetation and disposing of the cleared vegetative matter.

(4) The applicant shall have an executed hold harmless and release agreement on a form approved by the City, indemnifying and releasing the City, its officials, officers, and agents from liability.

(5) Other information as deemed necessary by the code official. [Ord. 1611 § 9, 2014.]

16.25.100 Permit – Expiration – Extension.

(1) Except when specific time limits are set by the City Manager or the City Manager’s designee, any permit granted under this chapter shall expire one year from the date of issuance.

(2) The City Manager or the City Manager’s designee may set specific limits to the project commencement and/or completion for any reasonable purpose, including but not limited to environmental reasons or for coordination with other permitted site work.

(3) Upon a showing of good cause, a permit may be extended for six months. Approved plans shall not be amended without authorization of the City Manager or the City Manager’s designee. [Ord. 1611 § 10, 2014.]

16.25.110 Tree permit to be posted.

No work shall commence until a permit notice has been posted on the subject site at a conspicuous location. The notice shall remain posted until the project has been completed. [Ord. 1611 § 11, 2014.]

16.25.120 Fees.

There shall be a fee assessed to compensate the City for the expense of reviewing and processing plans, conducting inspections, providing for outside consulting services, and the like. The fee shall be set by written administrative directive and shall be related to the amount of anticipated service for the particular application. Fees for permits authorized under this chapter that are reviewed after the proposed site work has started will be assessed at twice the normal rate, except for emergency exemption established in DMMC 16.25.050. [Ord. 1611 § 12, 2014.]