Chapter 16.58

16.58.000    Chapter Contents


16.58.010    Purpose.

16.58.020    Definitions.

16.58.030    Scope.

16.58.040    Tree Planting

16.58.050    Tree Pruning and Maintenance.

16.58.060    Tree Removal.

16.58.070    Penalties.

16.58.080    Variance and Appeal Process.

16.58.010 Purpose

The purpose of these regulations is to encourage responsible management of public tree resources within the City of Olympia in a fashion consistent with the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan. Because trees growing on public property provide benefits to the greater public at large, they are deserving of greater protection than that afforded to privately owned trees. Proper protection, planting, and maintenance is required to promote tree health and aesthetics; foster species diversity; and to preserve the public tree canopy. Therefore, the purposes of this Chapter are:

A.    Encourage the planting of new trees and the maintenance of existing trees for all the benefits they provide to the community.

B.    Maintain public trees in a healthy and nonhazardous condition through good arboricultural practices.

C.    Manage trees and vegetation on public property in a manner that represents the best interests of the public.

D.    Encourage a diversity of appropriate species of trees.

(Ord. 5827 §1, 1998)

16.58.020 Definitions

For the purpose of this Chapter certain words and terms are defined as follows:

A.    Appropriate Tree. An appropriate tree is a tree suited at maturity for the space which it occupies without creating a hazard to public health and safety.

B.    City. City of Olympia

C.    Climbing Spurs. Sharp, pointed devices affixed to the climber’s leg used to assist in climbing trees (also known as gaffs, hooks, spurs, spikes, climbers).

D.    Crown Reduction Pruning. The reduction of the top, sides, or individual limbs by the means of removal of the leader or longest portion of a limb to a lateral no less than one-third of the total diameter of the original limb removing no more than one-quarter of the leaf surface.

E.    Hazard Tree. A hazard tree is any tree with a combination of structural defect and/or disease (which makes it subject to a high probability of failure) and a proximity to persons or property which makes it an imminent threat.

F.    Public Tree. Trees growing on property owned in fee-simple by the City of Olympia.

G.    Specimen Tree Value. An objective evaluation process used to determine the public value of a tree. The evaluation looks at the size, condition, and location of a public tree to determine whether a tree has a significant public value. The procedure for evaluating a specimen tree is identified in the Urban Forestry Manual.

H.    Street Tree. Trees growing within the City’s rights-of-ways.

I.    Topping. Cutting a branch or stem back to a stub or lateral branch not sufficiently large enough to assume the terminal role (also known as heading, stubbing, lopping).

J.    Vegetation Management Plan. A plan identifying how vegetation is to be managed on city-owned property.

K.    Urban Forester. The City of Olympia’s Urban Forester.

L.    Urban Forestry Manual. Technical manual outlining Urban Forestry Standards of practice for the City of Olympia. It was adopted by ordinance as part of OMC 16.60.

(Ord. 5827 §1, 1998)

16.58.030 Scope

The provisions of this Chapter shall apply to the planting, maintenance, removal, and protection of all public trees as defined in this ordinance.

A.    Trees on lands managed by the City of Olympia Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. Tree removal, pruning and/or planting in these areas shall be subject to review and approval of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department.

B.    Trees on lands managed by the City of Olympia, for storm water management purposes. Tree removal, pruning and/or planting in these areas shall be subject to review and approval of the Public Works Department.

C.    Trees within critical areas as defined in OMC 18.32. Tree removal in these areas will be subject to review and approval of the City’s Environmental Review Authority.

(Ord. 6886 §18, 2013; Ord. 5827 §1, 1998).

16.58.040 Tree Planting

A.    Tree planting on City of Olympia Property. Private parties may plant trees on property owned by the City with written permission. To obtain permission the applicant(s) shall:

1.    Submit a written request to the City a minimum of thirty (30) days prior to planting.

2.    Prepare a tree planting plan identifying the species, size, and location of trees to be planted. The proposed species and locations of trees must be consistent with current and potential future uses of the property as determined by City Staff review.

3.    Comply with the standards for planting, contained in the Urban Forestry Manual.

4.    Have underground utilities located and obtain approval from any affected utilities prior to planting.

B.    Nuisance Tree Abatement. Any planting of public trees that fails to comply with the standards established in the Urban Forestry Manual is declared a public nuisance and may be abated pursuant to OMC 8.24.030.

(Ord. 5827 §1, 1998)

16.58.050 Tree Pruning and Maintenance

A.    Pruning public trees. Private parties may have public trees pruned with written permission from the City. To obtain permission the applicant(s) shall:

1.    Submit a written request to the City a minimum of thirty (30) days prior to pruning;

2.    Identify the trees to be pruned and the specific work to be performed;

3.    Pay for all costs associated with the proposed pruning; and

4.    Comply with the pruning standards in the Urban Forestry Manual.

B.    Topping and climbing trees with spurs prohibited. Topping of public trees is prohibited. Climbing spurs may be used to climb a public tree only if it is to be removed.

C.    Insect and disease abatement. The City may prune, spray, or otherwise maintain public trees in order to control infestations of insects or disease or to maintain public safety.

(Ord. 5827 §1, 1998)

16.58.060 Tree Removal

A.    Hazard trees - City’s authority to remove. The City may remove any public tree determined to be a hazard by the Urban Forester.

B.    Contractors require license, insurance, and bond. All tree removal and/or tree pruning work on public property shall be performed by a licensed, bonded, and insured contractor.

C.    Public tree removal process. No City trees shall be cut down, killed, or removed for any reason without complying with the following procedure:

1.    File an application with the Urban Forester;

2.    Procure a permit for removal from the Urban Forester; and

3.    Mitigate the loss of the removed tree(s) pursuant to the mitigation section of this ordinance.

D.    Public tree removal, when allowed. A tree removal permit is required to be obtained prior to the removal of any City tree by a private party. Such a permit shall be approved only when one or more of the following conditions exist as determined by the Urban Forester:

1.    The tree is infected with an epidemic insect or disease for which removal is the recommended practice to prevent transmission to other trees;

2.    The tree poses a public nuisance;

3.    The tree poses a safety hazard that pruning, transplanting, or other treatments cannot correct;

4.    The tree severely interferes with the growth and development of a more desirable tree;

5.    Required infrastructure work or improvements would kill the tree or render it a hazard;

6.    The removal of the tree is necessary to implement or maintain a vegetation management plan for the area, as approved by the Urban Forester (see standards for developing Vegetation Management Plans); or

7.    The removal of the tree(s) is necessary to provide the only reasonable access to adjacent private property.

E.    Public tree loss mitigation. Mitigation is required if a public tree is removed, injured, or otherwise damaged by a private party. The mitigation value shall be calculated by the Urban Forester using the formula outlined in the most recent edition of the "Guide for Establishing Values of Trees and Other Plants," published by the International Society of Arboriculture. The mitigation value shall be paid into the City Tree Account, as established in OMC 16.60. All or a portion of this mitigation may be met by planting replacement trees on the site.

F.    Vegetation Management Plans. When a private party (non-city) requests the removal of a public tree, the applicant shall be required to develop and implement a vegetation management plan for the property. The applicant shall be required to pay all costs associated with the development and implementation of such plan.

The plan shall ensure:

1.    Protection of slopes and soil stability on the property;

2.    Protection of critical areas as defined in OMC 14. 10;

3.    Protection of landmark trees or trees with a specimen tree value of six (6) or greater;

4.    City maintenance costs for the property are maintained at or below the current levels, and;

5.    Compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations.

The plan should consider:

1.    Wildlife habitat enhancement;

2.    Species diversity;

3.    Aesthetics, and;

4.    Enhancement of public views.

The plan may consider:

1.    Enhancement of private views.

The Urban Forester may require that the vegetation management plan be prepared by qualified professionals as deemed necessary.

(Ord. 5827 §1, 1998).

16.58.070 Penalties

A.    It shall be gross misdemeanor for any person, firm, or corporation to knowingly cut down, prune, kill, or otherwise damage any public tree without lawful authority. The penalty for such violation shall be a fine not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000), and/or to imprisonment not to exceed ninety (90) days or to both such fine and imprisonment. Each day shall constitute a separate offense. In the event of continuing violation or failure to comply, the second and subsequent days shall constitute a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000) and/or imprisonment for not more than three hundred and sixty-five (365) days or both such fine and imprisonment.

B.    As an additional concurrent penalty, it shall be a civil infraction for a person, firm, or corporation to cut down, prune, kill, or otherwise damage any public tree without lawful authority. Each day shall be a separate infraction. A person, firm, or corporation found to have committed a civil infraction shall be assessed a monetary penalty as follows:

1.    First offense: Class 3 ($50), not including statutory assessments.

2.    Second offense arising out of the same facts as the first offense: Class 2 ($125), not including statutory assessments.

3.    Third offense arising out of the same facts as the first offense: Class 1 ($250), not including statutory assessments.

See also OMC Chapter 4.44, Uniform Code Enforcement.

(Ord. 6081 §61, 2001; Ord. 5827 §1, 1998).

16.58.080 Variance and Appeal Process

The administrative process for variances and appeals shall be governed by Chapter 18.66 of the Unified Development Code.

(Ord. 5827 §1, 1998).