Updated heritage tree ordinance in Menlo Park goes into effect July 1

by Contributed Content on June 26, 2020

On November 19, 2019, the City Council approved a new heritage tree ordinance that is effective July 1. The City Council updated the ordinance to preserve the City’s tree canopy with the intention to plant and protect more replacement trees and to increase preservation of healthy heritage trees in development projects.

The following sections describe the new changes due to the amended heritage tree ordinance:

-Heritage tree permit applications: To practice safety protocols during the pandemic, applicants may submit heritage tree permit applications online. Paper applications will no longer be accepted after October 1.-Decision-making criteria: The new criteria is more concise and more clear.

-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.

-City-approved consulting arborist list: Applicants must hire one of the consulting arborists from the City’s approved list, which will be available on the City’s website.

-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 eligible to appeal, the appealing body is different and the City may request additional materials.

-Staff created heritage tree administrative guidelines to explain how to comply with the updated ordinance, which should be read with ordinance. The guidelines may be modified more readily than the ordinance, to reflect changes in the industry and establish best practices. They are available for public review and any community member may submit his/her feedback.

To provide feedback, please submit a heritage tree administrative guideline form.

Please visit the Sustainability Division webpage for an overview of the updated heritage tree ordinance.

To learn more or for questions about the new heritage tree ordinance, please contact Sustainability Specialist Joanna Chen.

Photo of heritage oak in Menlo Park backyard by Frances Freyberg (c) 2010

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Katherine Arthurs June 27, 2020 at 11:51 pm

the issue with the old and new process is that for the community to appeal a tree removal request costs A Lot of money.

I lived at 702 oak Grove Ave when it was a 4-plex for 17yrs. The new owners who inherited the property decided to sell it to a developer who eventually tore it down to build a small office building. Removing 4 heritage trees.

And to try to protect the “heritage” tree required 10 appeals, $150/each so 1500 per tree.

So not really sure how this ordinance protect our heritage trees

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