February 11, 2016
Dear Tree Advocates
Trees Sacramento continues to promote a strong tree ordinance with City Staff and Council members. Our letter was signed by six regional environmental organizations, supported by 10 neighborhood associations, and an additional 11 individual community leaders. Staff has indicated that they hoped to take another version of the tree ordinance to the Law and Legislation Committee in March and to City Council in April 2016. This version may include some of our recommendations but not others.
In a recent meeting with Council Member Jeff Harris, we were encouraged that some of our recommendations are being considered and some may be incorporated into the next revision of the Staff’s proposed ordinance. There appears to be support at the City that trees on city-owned properties would be treated equally with the same protections as city street trees. Staff is reexamining the issue of requiring replacement and mitigation in the ordinance for removal of protected trees (rather than leaving this to the discretion of the director).
However, staff is still opposed to other important recommendations such as a notification of tree removals, requiring trees in all development projects, and making tree removal factors (criteria) objective and quantifiable.
Upper Land Park Neighbors, Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association, Trees4Sacramento and ECOS also attended the Parks and Recreation Commission hearing when staff presented the tree ordinance changes they seek. Most commissioners were strongly in favor of better notification of tree removals to community. In addition, some members indicated they did not want to hear tree appeals because they lack expertise to make informed decisions.
We are making progress, but we will have to wait and review the new draft ordinance and prepare a response when it is available.
In particular we want to ensure that the ordinance revises support and are consistent with our General Plan policies and Climate Action Plan. Our General Plan policies in question are underlined below:
ER 3.1.2 Manage and Enhance the City’s Tree Canopy
The City shall continue to plant new trees, ensure new developments have sufficient right-of-way width for tree plantings, manage and care for all publicly owned trees, and work to retain healthy trees. The City shall monitor, evaluate and report, by community plan area and citywide, on the entire tree canopy in order to maintain and enhance trees throughout the City and to identify opportunities for new plantings. (RDR/MPSP/SO)
ER 3.1.3 Trees of Significance
The City shall require the retention of City trees and Heritage Trees by promoting stewardship of such trees and ensuring that the design of development projects provides for the retention of these trees wherever possible. Where tree removal cannot be avoided, the City shall require tree replacement or appropriate remediation. (RDR/MPSP)
ER 3.1.4 Visibility of Commercial Corridors
The City shall balance the tree canopy of the urban forest with the need for visibility along commercial corridors, including the selection of tree species with elevated canopies. (RDR)
ER 3.1.6 Urban Heat Island Effects.
The City shall continue to promote planting shade trees with substantial canopies, and require, where feasible, site design that uses trees to shade rooftops, parking facilities, streets, and other facilities to minimize heat island effects. (RDR/PI)
ER 3.1.9 Funding
The City shall provide adequate funding to manage and maintain the city’s urban forest on City property, including tree planting, training, maintenance, removal, and replacement. (SO/FB)
THANK YOU for all your help in getting the improvements to the current staff ordinance. BE AWARE — we will need your help for the upcoming two meetings – to get people to send support letters and attend these important meetings.