Heritage tree ordinance

The City Council approved an updated heritage tree ordinance, effective July 1, 2020. The following sections describe the new changes to the amended heritage tree ordinance: 

  • Heritage tree permit applications: Submit heritage tree permit applications online.
  • A City-approved consulting arborists list: Applicants must hire one of the consulting arborist from the City’s approved list.
  • The decision making criteria: The new criteria is more concise and clearer than the current criteria.
  • The replacement tree requirements: For non-development projects, the requirements depends on the size of the heritage tree’s trunk diameter. For development projects, the monetary value of the replacement trees must be at least equal to the appraised value of the heritage tree. If those requirements cannot be met, a written statement is needed to explain why an in lieu fee payment shall be allowed.
  • The appeal process: Community members must submit an appeal form and payment electronically or hard copy to initiate the appeal process. The new ordinance changed who is applicable to appeal, the appealing body is different, and the City may request additional materials. 

Violation penalties

Any person who violates the ordinance, including property owners, occupants, tree companies and gardeners, could be held liable for violation of the ordinance. The ordinance prohibits removal or pruning of over one-fourth of the tree, vandalizing, mutilating, destruction and unbalancing of a heritage tree without a permit. If a violation occurs during construction, the City may issue a stop-work order suspending and prohibiting further activity on the property until a mitigation plan has been approved, including protection measures for remaining trees on the property. Civil penalties may be assessed against any person who commits, allows or maintains a violation of any provision of the ordinance.

The following penalty shall apply to violations of the heritage tree ordinance, effective July 14, 2020:

  • If a person commits, or maintains a violation of any part of Municipal Code Section 13.24, he/she will be fined in an amount not to exceed $5,000 per violation; and
  • If the violation resulted in the removal or demise of a heritage tree, the fine will not exceed $5,000 per tree or the appraised value of each such tree, whichever amount is higher.