Chapter 12.50


12.50.010    Purpose and intent.

12.50.020    Definitions.

12.50.030    Applicability of chapter.

12.50.040    Heritage tree registration.

12.50.050    Protected heritage tree removal prohibition.

12.50.060    Exceptions.

12.50.070    Violation and penalty.

12.50.080    Heritage tree account.

12.50.010 Purpose and intent.

The ordinance codified in this chapter has been adopted to identify, promote, protect and maintain Walla Walla’s heritage trees. This chapter is intended to provide reasonable assurance Walla Walla’s rich tree heritage will continue. The state’s largest specimens of several species are found in Walla Walla due to the excellent growing conditions and foresight of its citizens. The city is reputed for its preponderance of large trees. This chapter has three purposes: (1) to identify heritage trees on public and private property; (2) to inform private property heritage tree owners about the treasures they possess; and (3) to encourage maintenance and protection of all heritage trees. (Ord. 96-29 § 1(part), 1996).

12.50.020 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms are defined:

A. “Adjacent property owner” means the person responsible for the care of a street tree.

B. “Applicant” means the person who nominates a tree for consideration for heritage tree designation.

C. “City” means the city of Walla Walla, Washington.

D. “City arborist” means the city official appointed pursuant to Section 12.49.030.

E. “Drip line” means the area encompassed by the tree canopy projected vertically to the ground.

F. “Heritage tree” means a tree or group of trees designated by the city because they meet criteria of exceptional value. Exceptional value is determined by the urban forestry advisory commission based on association with historic figures or events, rare or unusual species, exceptional aesthetic quality, or large size.

G. “Person” means any individual, organization, society, partnership, firm, association, joint venture, public or private corporation, trust, estate, commission, board, public or private institution, governmental agency, public or private utility, cooperative, interstate body, or other legal entity.

H. “Potential heritage tree” means a tree under consideration for heritage tree designation in a nonpublished, working inventory.

I. “Property owner” means any person deeded the land on which the heritage tree grows or said person’s legal representative.

J. “Protected heritage tree” means a heritage tree on city property, so designated by the city, or one protected by a property owner who encumbers his/her property deed with a covenant requiring city approval before the tree could be removed or potentially damaged.

K. “Potential damage” means any act which may cause the death of a heritage tree or reduces the heritage tree’s exceptional value. Such acts include, but are not limited to: damage inflicted to the root system by machinery, storage of materials, chemical application, soil compaction, or changing the ground level where the tree’s roots interact; damage which permits infection or infestation; topping or excessive pruning; or paving with concrete, asphalt, or other impervious material within the tree’s critical root zone.

L. “Remove” or “removal” means the act of removing a heritage tree by digging it up, or cutting it down.

M. “Urban forestry advisory commission” or “commission” means the city parks, recreation, and urban forestry advisory board. (Ord. 2017-45 § 27, 2017: Ord. 96-29 § 1(part), 1996).

12.50.030 Applicability of chapter.

This chapter shall apply to all land within the city limits. (Ord. 96-29 § 1(part), 1996).

12.50.040 Heritage tree registration.

The city arborist shall prepare and thereafter maintain an inventory of heritage trees within one year of the enactment of the ordinance codified in this chapter. The inventory shall include a location map and brief description of each heritage tree. The heritage tree inventory may be amended using the following procedures:

A. Nomination for heritage tree consideration may be made by any person. The nomination shall include: a photograph, map and description (property owner, species, circumference, height, crown width, and age, as well as any additional characteristics on which the nomination is based).

B. Review of all heritage tree nominations will be made by the city arborist with the advice of the commission to assure the nominated tree is of exceptional value. Trees which are considered to have exceptional value will be placed on a list of potential heritage trees. The city arborist will notify the property owner or adjacent property owner when a potential heritage tree is identified on private property or is a street tree. The property owner must grant permission prior to any visit which requires entering private property.

C. The city arborist, with the advice of the commission and any property owner or adjacent property owner, will determine which potential heritage trees on city property (including street trees) and noncity property (where the land owner has granted permission), are to be designated heritage trees.

D. The city arborist shall encourage private owners to protect heritage trees. The city will provide the owner with (1) information on how to protect the tree with a covenant or property deed; and (2) the proper document to file with the county auditor. Trees on noncity property will be considered a protected heritage tree upon encumbrance of the property deed. (Ord. 96-29 § 1(part), 1996).

12.50.050 Protected heritage tree removal prohibition.

Subject to the exceptions identified in Section 12.50.060 of this chapter, no person shall remove or cause potential damage to any protected heritage tree. (Ord. 96-29 § 1(part), 1996).

12.50.060 Exceptions.

Acts which may potentially damage or remove a protected heritage tree may occur only after receiving a permit from the city. Only the property owner or city can apply for a permit.

A. Protected heritage trees may be pruned without a permit as part of routine tree maintenance in accordance with National Arborist Association Standards (or International Society of Arboriculture Standards) provided the pruning would not reduce the tree’s height or crown diameter, alter the tree’s general appearance, increase the tree’s susceptibility to insects or disease, or otherwise increase its risk of mortality.

B. The city arborist may issue an emergency tree removal permit in order to protect public safety or private or public property from imminent danger.

C. Other acts which may result in potential damage to or removal of protected heritage trees shall adhere to the following process:

1. A person proposing any act which may result in potential damage to or removal of a protected heritage tree shall submit a written request to the city arborist. The request shall identify the protected heritage tree(s) affected, the need for the action, and the time the action would occur.

2. The city arborist shall then notify the urban forestry advisory commission of the request. The commission shall have at least one month to evaluate the request and then shall discuss the request as an agenda topic during a commission meeting. The commission shall make a formal recommendation to the city arborist.

3. The city arborist shall notify the person requesting the permit and the commission of his/her decision.

4. A decision to allow an action which may potentially damage or remove any protected heritage trees will result in a permit being issued. The permit shall contain any required terms and/or conditions.

Failure to follow the procedures set forth in this chapter or the terms and conditions of a permit shall be considered a violation of the city code. (Ord. 96-29 § 1(part), 1996).

12.50.070 Violation and penalty.

Any person violating or failing to comply with any provision of this chapter shall be found to have committed an infraction and shall be punishable by a penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars. Each such person shall be found to have committed a separate infraction for each and every day during any portion of which any violation of any provision of this chapter is committed, continued or permitted by any such person, and such person shall be punished accordingly. The remedies for violation or failure to comply described herein are in addition to all other remedies provided or authorized by law. (Ord. 96-29 § 1(part), 1996).

12.50.080 Heritage tree account.

There is created a heritage tree account into which all penalties and revenues received under this chapter shall be placed. Any and all funds received shall be utilized for programs to encourage proper tree care and tree planting in the city. (Ord. 96-29 § 1(part), 1996).