When trees must be removed

City of Palo Alto ordinances protect trees and specify their replacement

City of Palo Alto tree ordinances state that, under certain conditions, trees that have been removed must be replaced.

Protected trees: If the city authorizes removal because the tree is dead, dangerous or a nuisance, no tree replacement is required. In all other cases, the tree must be replaced.

Designated trees: The director of Planning and Community Environment or a designee decides on the number and nature of replacement tree(s) based on the value of the removed tree. The value is determined based on the "Guide for Plant Appraisal" published by the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.

Street trees: If the city authorizes removal of a street tree in connection with a development project, the city must specify replacement requirements in the permit that authorizes approval.

When trees cannot be replaced on site: The value of the tree is calculated under the city's Tree Value Replacement Standard. The money is used to either provide additional trees elsewhere on the site; add street trees or other public landscaping nearby; or add trees or other landscaping to other city property.

Species of tree replacements: When a protected or designated tree is replaced, the new trees must be of the same species unless the director of Planning and Community Environment determines that another species is more suitable for the location. Factors considered include long-term tree health, location, compatibility with surrounding uses and design.

Source: City of Palo Alto Tree Technical Manual

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The clash over cutting down Palo Alto's trees


2 people like this
Posted by Wayne Tyson
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2016 at 9:02 pm

I am slowly accumulating case data and "statistics" from around the world. Just samples, mind you--noting scientific. For what it may be worth, I have observed several areas in common surrounding this issue.

1. Emotional sensitivity. We all love trees--often to the point of denial, similar to when a relative or good friend of long standing becomes ill with a terminal disease. Some of us will defend a tree that is unquestionably hazardous and protest its removal, but we are conveniently absent after the tree kills or injures someone or destroys property. We have short memories following such events, which soon become "old news." We tend to blame God or Nature, even in cases where the actual cause was human neglect. These phenomena are not limited to my city and region (San Diego), where some conditions are common across boundaries, and others are unique, even to the exact location of a hazardous tree.

I will not include the other results of my "survey" here unless a discussion forms around the subject.


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