In early 2014, concerned residents attended a City Council meeting to request that the City consider enacting a tree ordinance that would apply to trees on private property (also sometimes referred to as a ‘Heritage’ tree ordinance). Currently, the City only regulates trees on City property and within the public right-of-way. The residents making the request were upset because a very large walnut tree, located on private property, was removed by the property owner. At that meeting, the City Council directed staff to look into the matter, including what other cities in the East Bay do regarding the regulation of trees on private property, and to report back to the Rules Subcommittee.
In two subsequent City Council Rules Committee meetings, staff presented information on how other cities regulated (or not) private trees and presented a draft ordinance for comment and review. At the most recent Committee meeting held in April 2016, staff was directed to bring the matter back to the full Council for consideration; the Committee requested information on how many trees Citywide would such an ordinance, if enacted, affect. Staff indicated that gathering that data would take time. Currently, staff anticipates bringing the matter back to the City Council for consideration towards the end of the year.
In its current form, the draft ordinance would apply only to trees that are 24” diameter at breast height (DBH) or greater located in a front yard; the ordinance would not apply to non-native species; and may, at the discretion of the Public Works Director, require submittal of an arborist’s report, which would not be required for normal tree trimming and maintenance. Removal of regulated trees without City approval would be treated as a Municipal Code violation. Under the City’s current Fee Schedule, a first violation is charged $100; a second violation is $200; and a third violation (treated as a misdemeanor) is $1,000.
Unless the City Council were to take future action to enact a Tree Ordinance, there remains no regulation of trees located on private property. No permits or permission from the City are required to trim or remove private trees. If you have any questions or wish to register your opinion on the draft ordinance, please contact Debbie Pollart, Public Works Director at 577-6020, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org