Heritage tree

Menlo Park desires to protect and preserve the scenic beauty and natural environment, prevent erosion of topsoil and sedimentation in waterways, encourage quality development, provide shade and wildlife habitat, counteract pollutants in the air and decrease wind velocities and noise. The primary intention of the ordinance is to ensure that there will be a significant population of large, healthy trees over the long term.

Definition of a heritage tree

  1. Any tree other than oaks has a trunk with a circumference of 47.1 inches (diameter of 15 inches) or more, measured at 54 inches above natural grade
  2. Any oak tree native to California has a trunk with a circumference of 31.4 inches (diameter of 10 inches) or more measured at 54 inches above natural grade
  3. A tree or group of trees specifically designated by the City Council for protection because of its historical significance, special character or community benefit

Any tree with more than one trunk that falls under (1) and (2) shall be measured at the diameter below the main union of all multi-trunk trees. If the tree has more than one trunk and the union is below grade, each stem shall be measured as a standalone tree. Multi-trunk trees under 12 feet in height shall not be considered a heritage tree.

Maintenance and protection

Heritage trees are required to be preserved and maintained in a state of good health. The intention of this provision is to require reasonable measures such as correct watering, periodic inspection, proper pruning and not engaging in practices that are detrimental to the tree. The ordinance also requires any person who conducts grading, excavation, demolition or construction activity on a property to do so in a manner that does not threaten the health or viability or cause the removal of any heritage tree. Any work performed within an area 10 times the diameter of the tree (i.e., the tree protection zone) requires the submittal of a tree protection plan for approval by the City before issuance of any permit for grading or construction.