Sacramento Tree Ordinance Update

Summary of Law and Legislation Committee Recommendation on Tree Ordinance Revise

May 10, 2016

City of Sacramento Law and Legislation Committee recommended approval (3-0) of the proposed Tree Ordinance with following changes:

1. Posting of tree removal shall be 15 calendar days (Harris)

2. Expanding the definition of public nuisance to more specifically refer to Dutch elm disease and another specific tree disease (Guerra).

In addition, staff presented three amendments and announced an immediate launching of a new process to replace the 1994 Urban Forest Management Plan creation process (to replace the 1994 plan) which would begin August 2016. Councilmember Guerra asked staff to report back before the Council hearing with on a plan to communicate with neighborhood associations about tree removal. Harris asked staff and to commit to reporting back to Council on implementation of the ordinance after one year (Harris).

Councilmember Harris who has been Council lead on this effort, stated that competing interests are involved and he had worked diligently with staff to seek suitable compromise on issues presented by the all stakeholders, including the public. He believes all public comment has been thoroughly considered. Harris stated that the revised ordinance protects thousands more trees, has tree replacement requirements, a replacement fund and security to back up replacement requirements, prohibits topping and protects root zones of protected trees. He noted that it is not going to get any better. Larger goals such as the Climate Action Plan and canopy can be addressed in the Urban Forest Management Plan update.

Without our efforts, these key improvements noted by Councilmember Harris would not have occurred. We can take pride that the ordinance is now “squared up” with the General Plan policies and common sense CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) requirements such as guarantees that mitigation for tree removal is actually delivered. Sadly perhaps, it took a full scale community effort to get these corrections made.

We do have concerns that the recommended language makes it easier for staff to remove protected trees because broad authority is given to the Director of Public Works, criteria to be used are subjective, and existing language prohibiting harmful actions is not included in the recommended ordinance. Specifically, there is nothing in the ordinance which would require Urban Forestry to deny removal of a structurally-sound, protected tree. And we are seeing a lot of this. Last week it was 30 protected trees on R Street and several on West El Camino approved to be removed for public improvement projects.

We will keep you advised of the upcoming Council hearing on this issue.

For more information, please visit www.ecosacramento.net/trees4sacramento.

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Speak at the Tree Ordinance Hearing – May 10, 2016

Join Trees4Sacramento to speak up for the trees at the law and legislation committee’s hearing on the proposed revisions to the Sacramento City Tree Ordinance. See the redline of the changes by clicking here.

When: Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 at 3:00pm (NOTE: Date has been changed twice now from the originally announced April 12 date)

What: Law and Legislation Committee Hearing on city tree ordinance revisions

Where: Sacramento City Hall Council Chamber – 915 I Street, 1st Floor

Why: To save the tree canopy in Sacramento!

Who: You and other concerned citizens

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Jan 8 Update: Sacramento City Tree Ordinance

January 8, 2016

UPDATE: a new community letter has been submitted. Visit our Trees Sacramento page for more details.

Trees Sacramento is a group of community members working to improve the City of Sacramento’s tree ordinance. Some of the changes being proposed will benefit developers and could cost residents many of the city’s trees that we have come to know and love.

Main Points

The revisions to the Sacramento city tree ordinance currently being proposed are bad for our community because they:

  • conflict with General Plan policies for the Urban Forest
  • degrade existing standards for tree removal
  • remove the right of citizens to appeal removals of city-owned trees
  • will result in more frequent removal of healthy trees and their public benefits to
    residents

Fact Sheet

Trees Sacramento has released a fact sheet to help you understand why we need to act now protect the trees in the City of Trees.

Community Letter

ECOS signed on to a Community Letter on Revising Sacramento’s Tree Ordinances submitted January 4, 2016 to the City of Sacramento’s law and legislation committee in anticipation of their reviewing the latest proposed tree ordinance on January 12, 2016. The law and legislation committee pulled the item from their agenda on January 8, 2016 and will resume the discussion at a later time.

Other Cities

Other cities have found ways to create more transparency and better monitoring by citizens. For example, in Portland:

Tree loss spurs Portland residents to action

Tree Project Oversight Advisory Committee

Get in Touch

Get in touch with the Trees Sacramento coalition by emailing them at trees4sacto [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.

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