In recognition of the significant aesthetic, environmental, and economic benefits to the community provided by trees, and to increase the tree canopy in Pasadena, the City Council adopted measures to protect public trees, landmark trees, native trees and specimen trees in certain areas of the city.
Public, Landmark, Specimen and Native Trees
Public Trees All public trees are afforded protection in the ordinance and it is a violation to prune, remove, injure, or plant a public tree. No attachments (wire, rope, sign, or nail) to public trees, tree supports, shrubs or plants in public places are permitted. The Public Works Department will review out-of-cycle pruning and planting request submitted by a property owner. Requests for the removal of public trees will be reviewed and approved by the City Manager or designee based on the following criteria:
For one or two public trees, the City Manager will notify the abutting property owners and applicant ten days prior to the removal. For three or more public trees the City Manager will also notify the City Council, Design Commission, and any known neighborhood association. Native and Specimen Tree Protection Areas In single family residential and RM-12 (Multi-family two units on a lot) zoning districts, native and specimen trees are protected in the established front yards and corner side yards, and required side yards and rear yards. Established yard means the area between the property line and principal structure on a lot. Required yards for each zoning district are defined in the zoning code. If any portion of the tree is located in the yard, then the entire tree is protected. Landmark Tree Protection Areas Landmark trees are protected in all areas of all zones, on private as well as public property. Landmark Tree Designation Process Any person or agency may nominate a tree for landmark designation. The Cultural Heritage Commission will review all such nominations and make a recommendation to the City Council. Upon City Council approval, and if no objection has been received in writing from the property owner, the tree will be designated as a landmark. A covenant will be recorded with the office of the county recorder. Further Protection In the Central District (CD zoning district), the design authority may require modification of the building setback requirements (without a variance) to protect a landmark, native, specimen or public tree. Tree Protection Guidelines The tree protection guidelines set the standards and specifications for the protection of trees and are adopted by resolution of the City Council. The guidelines offer protection measures for projects involving construction and require submittal of a tree protection plan for review and approval. Specifically, the guidelines seek to avoid mechanical injury to tree roots, trunks, or branches; the compaction of soil; and changes to existing grade, which may expose or suffocate tree roots. The plan must show trees on-site, on the adjacent public property, and any protected tree on adjacent private property that might be impacted by the proposed project. Key elements to the guidelines are for the requirement of fencing to protect the trees, and inspections before, during, and after construction.
Landmark, Native and Specimen Tree Removal Requests for the removal of a landmark, native and specimen tree will be denied unless one of the following findings is made:
In addition, a request for the removal of a landmark tree will be denied unless the procedures specified for the removal of landmarks and the granting of a certificate of appropriateness is first followed. Relocation of a specimen or native tree will be treated as a removal. Tree removal requests with a discretionary action will be reviewed by the applicable decision-maker. Decisions on tree removal are subject to standard appeal and call-for-review procedures. Specimen and native tree removal requests, not associated with any discretionary action, will be reviewed by the City Manager or designated staff, with a decision rendered 15 days after the application has been deemed complete. In this case, the appeal process is the same as for a planning director decision. Pruning No permit is required to prune non-protected trees, specimen trees or native trees on private property. Pruning of a designated landmark tree requires a permit and the pruning work must be done according to the most recent standards of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Exemptions to Permits No permit is required to remove a protected tree if it is deemed hazardous by the city manager, or any police officer or fire fighter. No permit is required for city employees or city contractors to prune trees for compliance with statewide regulations governing electrical lines. No permit is required for city employees or city contractors to remove or prune a native, public, or specimen tree for the public health, safety or welfare as deemed by the City Manager. No permit is required for the removal of a tree on a project site for which a variance, conditional use permit, or design review approval has been obtained from the city prior to June 10, 2002 or for which a valid building permit has been obtained prior to June 10, 2002. Penalties Violators of the ordinance and/or approved tree protection plan may be charged with a misdemeanor or infraction. A misdemeanor can result in up to six months imprisonment and a maximum $1,000 fine. An infraction can result in a $250.00 fine. In addition, there may be civil penalties, late payment penalties, administration fees, and tree replacement costs charged to the violator.