Chapter 12.24
STREET AND PARK TREES

Sections:

12.24.010    Purpose.

12.24.020    Definitions.

12.24.030    Maintenance.

12.24.040    Abuse or mutilation prohibited.

12.24.050    Landmark trees – Qualification.

12.24.060    Major pruning or removal of landmark trees.

12.24.070    Violations and penalties – Enforcement.

12.24.080    Urban forestry account.

12.24.010 Purpose.

A. Much of the beauty of the city is concentrated in the trees situated in and along the public rights-of-way within the city. In order to maintain, preserve and enhance the beauty of the city, it is desirable that the rules and standards set forth in this chapter be established.

B. The National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program provides an excellent framework and support system to promote urban forestry in Port Townsend. This chapter is intended to meet the procedural requirements for obtaining Tree City USA status for the city.

C. It is the policy of the city of Port Townsend to recognize trees, of special significance through a landmark tree program. Street trees, park trees, other trees on public property, as well as trees on private property may be recognized as landmark trees. Nomination of trees as landmark trees shall only occur with the consent of the property owner, or owner(s) of the landmark tree. (Ord. 2837 § 3(Exh. C § 1); Ord. 2578 § 7, 1997; Ord. 2076 § 1, 1987).

12.24.020 Definitions.

A. “Director” means the director of public works, or his or her designee.

B. “Diseased tree” shall mean a tree that in the opinion of the public works director or an expert approved by the city of Port Townsend (such as, but not limited to, an experienced forester, certified arborist, or landscape architect), has a strong likelihood of infecting other trees or brush in the area or becoming a hazard as a result of the disease.

C. “Hazard tree” shall mean any tree which, in the opinion of the city of Port Townsend DSD or an expert approved by the city of Port Townsend (such as, but not limited to, a professional forester, certified arborist, or landscape architect), poses an unreasonable risk of failure and is a distance of one and one-half tree length or less from a permanent structure or high use outdoor area.

D. “Major pruning” means the pruning or cutting out of branches three inches in diameter or greater; root pruning; or cutting out of branches and limbs constituting greater than 15 percent of the tree’s foliage bearing area. The work shall retain the natural form of the tree.

E. “Minor pruning” means pruning or cutting out of water sprouts, suckers, twigs, or branches less than three inches in diameter and which constitute less than 15 percent of the tree’s foliage bearing area. The work shall retain the natural form of the tree. Removal of dead wood, broken branches and stubs are included within the definition of minor pruning. Minor pruning may be performed by the property owner without obtaining a street tree permit from the city.

F. “Park trees” are defined as trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation in public parks (those parks having individual names), or located on all other property owned by the city within the city limits.

G. “Street trees” are defined as trees, shrubs, bushes and all other woody vegetation on land lying within the public rights-of-way as further defined in the engineering design standards manual.

H. “Tree City USA” is an organization sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, which provides direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs.

I. “Urban forestry” means the management of urban vegetation to meet local needs. (Ord. 2892 § 1, 2005; Ord. 2837 § 3(Exh. C § 1); Ord. 2578 § 7, 1997; Ord. 2076 § 2, 1987).

12.24.030 Maintenance.

Other than pursuant to a street development permit under Chapter 12.04 PTMC, the city public works department or any authorized professional hired by the city public works department shall have the sole right to cut, trim, prune, maintain and remove all street trees and park trees within the city as may be necessary for public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of such public grounds, streets and sidewalks within the areas shown in the engineering design standards manual. (Ord. 2837 § 3(Exh. C § 1); Ord. 2578 § 7, 1997; Ord. 2076 § 3, 1987).

12.24.040 Abuse or mutilation prohibited.

It is unlawful for any person to intentionally damage, cut, trim, prune, carve, transplant or remove any street tree or park tree, or to attach any rope, wire, nail, poster, sign or other object or contrivance to any street tree or park tree; or to allow any gas, chemical or liquid or any solid substance of any kind which is harmful to such trees to come in contact with such trees, including but not limited to gasoline, oil, paint, paint thinner, construction material, plaster, garbage, litter, wastewater, sewage, soap or detergents, solvents, herbicides, fertilizers, or bleach, regardless of whether any such materials harm any such tree or not; or to set fire or permit or allow any fire to burn when such fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of any street tree or park tree. (Ord. 2837 § 3(Exh. C § 1); Ord. 2578 § 7, 1997; Ord. 2076 § 4, 1987).

12.24.050 Landmark trees – Qualification.

A. The landmark tree preservation designation recognizes the significance of certain special trees to the citizens of Port Townsend. A tree on private or public property may be protected throughout its useful life because of its contribution to the environment and city character.

B. Property Owner Consent. To be nominated as a landmark tree, consent of the tree’s property owner, or owners, is required. Forms for nominating a tree as a landmark tree will be maintained by public works.

C. Nominations for landmark tree designation shall be reviewed by the city’s tree committee. To qualify as a landmark tree, one or more of the following criteria must be met:

1. The tree has significance associated with a historical person, place or event;

2. The tree has attained significant size in height, caliper, or canopy spread for its age and species;

3. The tree has unique or uncommon aesthetic qualities for its species;

4. The tree is prominently visible to the public, along a major road or near a public place;

5. The tree possesses rare horticulture value.

D.  In addition to the above criteria, to qualify as a landmark tree the tree must not constitute a hazard or obstruction.

E. The tree committee shall consider all nominations for landmark tree designation at an open public meeting.

F. Designation of Landmark Trees.

1. A property owner may propose to the city that a tree located on his or her private property be designated as a landmark tree. Any city resident may propose to the city that a tree located on public property be designated as a landmark tree. No tree may be designated without the approval of the property owner(s) on which the tree, or any portion of the tree’s branches or canopy, is located.

2. Upon receipt of a proposed designation and the approval of the property owner, the city tree committee at an open public meeting shall determine whether the tree satisfies the criteria for being a landmark tree. The city tree committee shall make a recommendation to the public works director whether or not to designate the proposed tree as a landmark tree. The director shall make a final decision on the proposal within 14 calendar days of receiving a recommendation from the city tree committee.

3. If the city approves the proposed designation, it shall be memorialized in a covenant signed by the city and the property owner(s) in a form acceptable to the city attorney. The covenant shall require that the tree be maintained by the property owner(s) in a manner that is consistent with the provisions of this chapter. The covenant shall also describe the city’s role in providing reasonable technical advice in caring for the tree per subsection (F)(4) of this section. The covenant shall be recorded by the county auditor. The city shall pay recording fees. The covenant and designation shall be effective from the date of recording until such time as approval by the public works director has been granted for the cutting of the tree.

4. Upon request of a property owner, the city shall provide reasonable advice and consultation on maintenance of any landmark tree without charge to the property owner. (Ord. 2837 § 3(Exh. C § 1)).

12.24.060 Major pruning or removal of landmark trees.

A. Landmark Tree Cutting Requirements.

1. Property owners may conduct minor pruning of designated landmark trees consistent with this chapter.

2. Major pruning or removal of landmark trees requires approval by the public works director. A request to conduct major pruning or tree removal shall first be referred to the city’s tree committee for a recommendation. The tree committee shall forward a recommendation to the public works director.

3. Criteria for Major Pruning or Removal of a Landmark Tree. The applicant must demonstrate that major tree pruning or removal is necessary for one of the following reasons:

a. The tree, or a portion of the tree proposed for removal, meets the definition of a hazard tree;

b. The tree, or a portion of the tree proposed for removal, is dead;

c. The tree, or a portion of the tree proposed for removal meets the definition of a diseased tree;

d. That the retention of the tree will have a material, adverse and unavoidable impact on the use of the property.

4. The director shall review the recommendation of the tree committee and may also seek the advice of a qualified professional (certified arborist or other qualified tree professional) in reaching his or her decision. (Ord. 2837 § 3(Exh. C § 1)).

12.24.070 Violations and penalties – Enforcement.

A. Director’s Authority. Whenever the public works director or his or her designee (“director”) determines that a condition exists in violation of this chapter or any standard required to be adhered to by this chapter, or in violation of any permit issued hereunder, he or she is authorized to enforce the provisions of this chapter.

B. Chapter 1.20 PTMC Applicable. All violations of any provision of this chapter or incorporated standards, or of any permit or license issued hereunder, are declared nuisances and made subject to the administration and enforcement provisions of Chapter 1.20 PTMC, including any amendments, and including but not limited to abatement, criminal penalty, and civil penalty as set forth in Chapter 1.20 PTMC, which are incorporated by reference as if set forth herein. (Ord. 2952 § 3, 2008; Ord. 2837 § 3(Exh. C § 1); Ord. 2578 § 7, 1997; Ord. 2508 § 4, 1996).

12.24.080 Urban forestry account.

There is established a special revenue account to be known as the urban forestry account into which shall be deposited all assessments, fines, gifts designated for trees, money generated from compensatory payments, permit fees, and the sale of street and park trees and urban forest products and wood, along with other sums appropriated in the budget from the city general fund, street fund, utility funds, private gifts, or grants. The account shall be used for the purposes of planting, maintaining, protection, inspection, and removal of city street and park trees and trees on other city-owned properties; and public education. (Ord. 2837 § 3(Exh. C § 1)).