Chapter 12.42
STREET AND PUBLIC TREES

Sections:

12.42.040    Purpose.

12.42.080    Applicability.

12.42.120    Definitions.

12.42.160    Compliance.

12.42.200    Street tree policies.

12.42.240    Street trees required.

12.42.280    Designated street trees.

12.42.320    Street tree permits.

12.42.360    Street tree removal.

12.42.400    Tree removal criteria.

12.42.440    Street tree specifications.

12.42.480    Street tree maintenance responsibilities.

12.42.520    Trees on public lands.

12.42.560    Variances.

12.42.600    Procedures for appeals and variances.

12.42.640    Violations.

12.42.040 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish policies with regard to trees planted on city-owned lands, including street rights-of-way, parks, and natural areas. The provisions of this chapter are enacted in order to provide for the orderly, healthy, appropriate planting and maintenance of the city’s trees; protection of city property; enhancement of the environment; and general protection of property values within the city. The provisions of this chapter shall be supplemented with administrative rules and standards. (Ord. 1846 § 1, 1998)

12.42.080 Applicability.

The provisions of this chapter apply only to trees planted on city-owned property, including streets, parks, cemetery, and natural areas; except the golf course, city shops, City Hall, fire station, sewer treatment plant, and other similar minor utility and city-owned facilities. This chapter does not apply to trees on private property or property owned by other governmental entities. (Ord. 1846 § 2, 1998)

12.42.120 Definitions.

A. “Director” means the city’s appointed community development director or his designee.

B. “Emergency situation” means a circumstance where the existence of a street tree causes a direct and imminent threat to public health and safety.

C. “Forestry commission” means the commission appointed pursuant to chapter 2.87 SMC.

D. “Hearing examiner” means the person appointed pursuant to chapter 2.58 SMC and whose actions are governed by said rules.

E. “Major tree care” means any act performed on a tree which exceeds the definition of “routine care.” Major tree care does not include topping.

F. “Person” means any person, firm, association, partnership, corporation, or individual.

G. “Planting strip” means that portion of the public street right-of-way not covered by sidewalk or other paving lying between the property line and that portion of the street or highway usually used for vehicular traffic or parking.

H. “Removal” means the act of cutting down or removing any tree or shrub from the public right-of-way.

I. “Routine care” means the act of watering, fertilizing, applying pesticides, and pruning of trees or shrubs; provided, that pruning be limited to the removal of limbs one inch in diameter or smaller on small trees and two inches in diameter or smaller on medium and large trees. Routine care does not include topping.

J. “Street tree” means any tree planted in street right-of-way.

K. “Substantially redeveloped” means the issuance of a permit for construction valued at greater than or equal to 50 percent of the assessed value of the improvements prior to the permit.

L. “Topping” means the severe cutting back of limbs leaving stubs beyond the branch collar within the trees’ crown or to such a degree as to remove a substantial portion of the normal canopy and disfigure the tree. (Ord. 1846 § 3, 1998)

12.42.160 Compliance.

No person shall plant, remove, damage, mutilate, trim, prune, or alter a tree within the jurisdiction of this chapter except in accord with the provisions of this chapter or the rules and standards adopted to implement this chapter. (Ord. 1846 § 4, 1998)

12.42.200 Street tree policies.

The following policies are based on the adopted Sumner comprehensive plan and urban forestry strategy and shall be used to guide discretionary decisionmaking related to this chapter:

A. The city endorses the planting of appropriate trees within the planting strips in the city. Where streets have been designated for a particular street tree, plantings shall be consistent with that plan.

B. Large and significant trees are valued icons and provide substantial aesthetic and environmental benefits and should be retained whenever reasonably practical. Reasonable accommodation can be made in the design and maintenance of public infrastructure.

C. Care and maintenance of city trees shall be done consistent with best management practices for tree care.

D. Existing trees shall be retained unless they are seriously unhealthy or cause hazards to public safety. (Ord. 1846 § 5, 1998)

12.42.240 Street trees required.

A. Whenever a new street is constructed, it shall be provided with street trees according to this chapter.

B. Street trees shall be planted according to this chapter whenever an existing vacant site is developed or a site is substantially redeveloped. Street trees may also be required where they do not currently exist as required by the city’s land use, zoning, and environmental regulations. (Ord. 1846 § 6, 1998)

12.42.280 Designated street trees.

Street trees shall be planted according to the standards and specifications of this chapter, including lists of city-approved tree species and other standards established pursuant to SMC 12.42.440. Where streets have been designated by the city for a particular street tree, plantings shall be consistent with that designation. A list of approved and/or designated street trees, as recommended by the forestry and parks commission, shall be available at City Hall, and maintained by the director. (Ord. 2598 § 1, 2017: Ord. 2015 § 2, 2002: Ord. 1846 § 7, 1998)

12.42.320 Street tree permits.

A. No person shall plant a street tree, conduct major tree care on a street tree, or remove any street tree without first obtaining a street tree permit from the director, except that no such permit shall be required in emergency situations. The community development director, public works director, fire chief, police chief, and emergency services director shall have the authority to authorize such removal in emergency situations.

B. Applications for street tree permits shall be made on forms provided by the director. Applicants may be required to provide information with the application including, but not limited to, name of property owner, contractor information, status of overhead utility lines, planting type and location, reasons for planting or removal, and additional information as may be necessary to determine if the application meets city standards and policies.

C. Applications shall be accompanied by proof of insurance and licensing according to the following schedule, except that the director shall have the authority to waive such insurance requirements if it they are deemed inappropriate for the level of risk:

Purpose

Additional Requirements

Routine care

No permit required, voluntary.

Major care by abutting property owner

No additional requirements.

Major care by contractor

Commercial general liability insurance and $500,000 per occurrence and $500,000 general aggregate;

City named as additional insured;

Washington State contractor’s license; and

Sumner business license.

Removal by property owners

Hold harmless agreement.

Removal by contractor

Commercial general liability insurance and $500,000 per occurrence and $500,000 general aggregate;

City named as additional insured;

Washington State contractor’s license; and

Sumner business license.

Planting

Plan showing location, type, and size of trees with distances to curb, sidewalk, poles, signs, driveways, intersections, fire hydrants, and alleys.

D. After review of the permit application, the director shall approve the permit if it meets the requirements of this chapter, condition the permit with modifications or other measures to ensure compliance with this chapter, or deny the permit if it cannot reasonably be in compliance with this chapter.

E. The director may not charge a fee for street tree permits.

F. The director may provide whatever additional information that may be helpful to the permit applicant to understand the proper and appropriate planting and care of a street tree. (Ord. 1846 § 8, 1998)

12.42.360 Street tree removal.

A. Whenever the city arborist finds that a street tree is a potential threat to the public health and safety or believes the tree should be removed pursuant to SMC 12.42.400, an assessment of the tree’s health and risk of danger should be completed.

B. If the assessment indicates the street tree is unhealthy and requires additional measures, the city arborist shall recommend such measures to the appropriate city department.

C. If the assessment indicates the street tree is unhealthy or dangerous or satisfies the criteria for removal set forth in SMC 12.42.400, and should be removed, the appropriate city department shall post a notice on the tree for at least seven days prior to removal. The notice shall state the tree type and reason for the removal.

D. Any party may appeal the city arborist’s decision to remove a tree to the director.

E. In the event of an emergency situation, no such evaluation or notice shall be required, nor is an appeal allowed.

F. The decision to remove a street tree shall be based on an evaluation of the criteria stated in SMC 12.42.400 and the street tree policies in SMC 12.42.200.

G. When a tree removal request is made pursuant to SMC 12.42.400(E) or (G), the director, not the city arborist, will make the determination whether tree removal is warranted. Any party may appeal the decision of the director in this subsection G to the city administrator.

H. All appeal decisions made pursuant to this section are final and no further appeals shall be allowed. (Ord. 2598 § 2, 2017: Ord. 1846 § 9, 1998)

12.42.400 Tree removal criteria.

These criteria apply to the removal of any tree in a non-emergency situation. A tree should be removed if:

A. The tree is infected with an epidemic insect or disease where the recommended control is not applicable and removal is the recommended practice to prevent transmission.

B. The tree poses an extreme public nuisance because of its species, size, location or condition. The nuisance could be caused by excessive fruit or seed drop, harboring of insects or excessive twig or limb breakage.

C. The tree poses a severe safety hazard where corrections by pruning, transplanting, or other measures are not cost effective. The monetary value of the tree shall be compared to the costs for the measure to preserve the tree.

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

E. The aesthetic values of the tree are so low or negative that the site is visually enhanced by the tree’s removal.

F. Work improvements required to be made around the tree will kill or render it a hazard.

G. Preservation of the tree, when adjacent property is developed, is not cost effective. The monetary value of the tree shall be compared to construction costs necessary to preserve the tree. (Ord. 1846 § 10, 1998)

12.42.440 Street tree specifications.

The director shall establish specifications and rules to implement this chapter, including lists of acceptable and prohibited tree species, distances to trees and other facilities, and other standards necessary to implement this chapter. (Ord. 2598 § 3, 2017: Ord. 1846 § 11, 1998)

12.42.480 Street tree maintenance responsibilities.

A. The primary responsibility for the proper care and maintenance of street trees consistent with this chapter shall rest upon the abutting property owner, except as noted in subsection B of this section. The abutting property owner shall ensure that all work is done consistent with this chapter.

B. The city shall be responsible for the major care of street trees on the following streets:

Main Street from Traffic Avenue to Wood Avenue;

Cherry Avenue from Maple Street to Main Street;

Graham Avenue from Main Street to 53rd Street;

Washington Street from Valley Avenue to Parker Road;

Kincaid Avenue from Maple Street to Main Street;

Alder Avenue from Academy Street to Main Street;

Traffic Avenue from State Route 410 to Main Street; and

Thompson Street from Traffic Avenue to Sumner Avenue.

C. Maintenance of street trees with respect to protecting overhead power, telephone and cable utilities shall be the responsibility of the respective utility provider subject to city permits.

D. The city retains the authority to conduct tree care on any street tree at any time.

E. All work on street trees shall be done in a safe manner. The permit applicant shall be responsible for ensuring all utilities are properly located and marked prior to excavation. All dirt and debris shall be removed from travel and pedestrian ways and the planting strip restored with grass or other acceptable material. No dirt, excavation material, or dirt shall be allowed to enter the stormwater system. All staking of trees and planting material shall not impede safe pedestrian or vehicular travel. (Ord. 1846 § 12, 1998)

12.42.520 Trees on public lands.

A. Whenever the director finds that a tree on public land regulated by this chapter, except a street tree, is a potential threat to the public health and safety, he shall provide an assessment of the tree’s health and risk of danger by a professional in the care of trees.

B. If the assessment indicates the tree is healthy and requires additional measures, the director shall recommend such measures to the appropriate city department.

C. If the assessment indicates the tree is unhealthy or dangerous and should be removed, the director shall post a notice on the tree for at least seven days prior to removal. The notice shall state the tree type and reason for the removal.

D. Any party may appeal the decision to remove a tree on public lands to the city council.

E. In the event of an emergency situation, no such evaluation or notice shall be required.

F. The decision by the director or the forestry commission to remove a street tree shall be based on an evaluation of the criteria stated in SMC 12.42.400 and conformance with an approved master plan for the subject public property. (Ord. 1846 § 13, 1998)

12.42.560 Variances.

The hearing examiner may consider variances from the provisions of this chapter. Prior to rendering a decision, the hearing examiner may seek the advice of the forestry commission. Variances shall be based upon a finding that all the following criteria are satisfied:

A. The proposed variance will not result in a public safety hazard including potential damage to utilities, the street, sidewalks, power and telephone lines or interference with safe pedestrian, vehicular, and bicycle travel; and

B. The proposed variance will result in an improved condition for trees or a unique street design; and

C. The tree that is proposed has been shown to have the characteristics which are appropriate for the location without damaging public or private improvements. (Ord. 1846 § 14, 1998)

12.42.600 Procedures for appeals and variances.

Appeals of decisions to remove trees which are heard by the city council or hearing examiner shall be based upon the procedures for public hearings and shall be so noticed to the public. The decisions of the city council or hearing examiner shall be final. (Ord. 1846 § 15, 1998)

12.42.640 Violations.

A. Violations of this chapter and the rules which are adopted to implement this chapter shall be subject to enforcement action pursuant to chapter 15.06 SMC.

B. In seeking restitution when a tree is damaged or removed, the city shall take into account the value of the tree using generally accepted practice in the arboriculture profession. (Ord. 1846 § 16, 1998)