Heritage tree ordinance update

Menlo Park is in the process of updating its heritage tree ordinance to ensure a significant and thriving population of large healthy trees in Menlo Park for public enjoyment and environmental sustainability while balancing property rights and implementation efficiency. 

The project is being led by the City's Sustainability Division and includes collaboration across various city departments and community stakeholders.
To ensure that community input is captured, the City Council appointed a Heritage Tree Task Force to aid in the exploration and refinement of the policy options. 

Current status

The draft heritage tree ordinance update is available for public review and comments. The item is scheduled to be presented to City Council on October 29, 2019. The draft ordinance language and draft administrative guidelines are available for community review. Please submit all comments, question and feedback to Sustainability Manager Rebecca Lucky.

Please note any comments submitted after October 10 may not be included in the staff report planned for release October 17. To comment after October 10, please attend the October 29, City Council meeting, or email the City Council directly.

Project schedule

Activity  Duration
Project planning February to June 2018      
Community task force appointment and first meeting March to August 2018
Research and evidence gathering of Menlo Park data,
survey of Menlo Park permit applicants and appellants, and 
other communities' best practices and polices
June to October 2018
Task force review of research and evidence August to November 2018
Complete policy options analysis November 2018 to February 2019
Task force reviews policy options analysis, selects criteria
to determine preferred option, recommends a preferred option
February to April 2019
Environmental Quality Commission and Planning Commission review of preferred option April to May 2019
City Council study session on preferred option May 2019
Draft ordinance update June to August 2019
Communitywide engagement August to October 2019
 Task force makes final recommendation to City Council based on communitywide engagement  October 2019
Environmental Quality Commission and Planning Commission review of final heritage tree ordinance  October 2019
City Council first reading/introduction and second reading/adoption of ordinance November 2019 
Implementation rollout and development of standard operating procedures January to July 2020
Monitoring and evaluation  TBD

Project background

Menlo Park first adopted a heritage tree ordinance in 1979 and has since amended it five times. The last amendment took place in 2006. Over the past several years, concerns arose with development-related appeals, non-permitted removals and enforcement of tree replacements. As a result, the City Council included reviewing and updating the heritage tree ordinance as part of its 2017 and 2018 work plans.