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Livermore Ancestral Trees

ORDINANCE NO. 902

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE II, RELATING TO ANCESTRAL TREES, OF CHAPTER 23, RELATING TO TREES, SHRUBS AND PLANTS, OF THE LIVERMORE MUNICIPAL CODE, 1959.

THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LIVERMORE DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

Article II, relating to ancestral trees, of Chapter 23, relating to trees, shrubs and plants, of the Livermore Municipal Code, 1959, is hereby amended to read as follows:

ARTICLE II. ANCESTRAL TREES.

§23B.9. Finding.

The City of Livermore contains trees which are as much a part of the environment as the geology of this area and are necessary to prevent excessive land erosion, combat air pollution, prevent excess wind velocities, and preserve the scenic beauty of the area; said trees, in many cases, have distinct economic value not only in and of themselves but to the value of the land on which they are located and to the surrounding lands, being a part of the natural landscape and features of the area; the destruction of these trees by the intentional or thoughtless cutting, removal or damage, imposes sufficient threat to the City so as to need regulation.

§23B.l0. Purpose.

It is the purpose of this article to retain as many ancestral trees as possible while not unnecessarily impairing the value and enjoyment of private property, or placing an unreasonable burden thereon, through a procedure which informs the property owner of the value his tree has to the community

§23B.ll. Ancestral Tree Defined.

As used herein the term “ancestral tree” shall mean any tree which by reason of its age, size, location or rarity has special value to the community and which has been so designated by resolution of the Livermore City Council. For purposes of this section, ancestral tree includes a stand of trees within which is located one or more “ancestral trees” where the stand is an integrated unit.

§23B.ll.l. Designation of Ancestral Trees. Potential ancestral trees shall be listed on an “inventory of ancestral tree” to be compiled by the Livermore Beautification Committee. Such list may be adopted, with or without modification, by the City Council as the official designation of ancestral trees. Until such time as this list is promulgated under this ordinance, that list of ancestral trees which was compiled under the previous ordinance shall remain in effect as the official list of ancestral trees. The list of ancestral trees shall be maintained and kept current by the Parks and Trees Superintendent.

§23B.ll.2. Criteria for Designation of Ancestral Trees.

  1. The Beautification Committee in preparing the list of proposed trees shall consider the following specific criteria: The origin of the tree, whether native, or non-native, and climate adapted;
  2. The size of the tree and its growth configuration as an example of the species;
  3. The age of the tree, if determinable, and any relation to the historical development of the City;
  4. Its location relative to existing buildings or structures of historical importance or character;
  5. Its location relative to already designated trees as part of a neighborhood setting;
  6. Health and viability of the tree, including for hazard to the property owner or public;
  7. The potential for economic hardship to the owner involved in the maintenance of the tree;
  8. The preference of the property owner.

§23B.ll.3. Hearing.

Before any tree may be designated as an ancestral tree, a hearing must be held on the proposed designation before the Planning Commission. Notice shall be given by mail to the property owner of record on which the tree stands. Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting a public hearing on all the trees proposed for designation of the inventory at one time. Upon conclusion of any hearing the Planning Commission shall forward its recommendation on the proposed designation to the City Council for final action. The determination of the City Council shall be final.

§23B.ll.4. Notices.

Each property owner shall be notified in writing of the designation of an ancestral tree on his/her property. A record of the designation shall be maintained by the City Building Department and be included as required information in the Report of Residential Building Records as per City Code §6.37.

§23B.12. Damage or Destruction of Ancestral Trees Prohibited.

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to damage or destroy any ancestral tree with in the City of Livermore by the use of chemicals, tools, neglect to water, trimming or any other means, without obtaining a permit to do so.

§23B.13. Exceptions.

In cases of emergency if an ancestral tree is, by reason of its condition or location, a danger to life or property, it may be removed by order of any member of the police, fire, public works department, or public utility company, if the Parks and Trees Superintendent is not available.

An ancestral tree may be removed or pruned after approval of a final subdivision map if the tenant therefore permits such, or in the case of any permit approved under the provisions of Ordinance No. 442 (relating to zoning), if such a permit provides specifically for removal or pruning.

§23B.14. Permit Required.

Any person, firm or corporation desiring to remove one or more ancestral trees shall apply, upon forms provided for the purpose by the Public Works Department to the Department of Parks and Trees for a permit to remove an ancestral tree by cutting or damaging said tree. Such application shall state, among other things, the kind, location, number, estimated age of the tree or trees to be removed and the reason for such removal.

§23B.15. Issuance of Permit.

Before a permit shall issue the Parks and Trees Superintendent shall review it and determine that the issuance is justified by- one or both of the following reasons:

a) That the tree must be removed due to disease or natural damage and is in danger of causing damage to property or life.

b) That the tree or trees must be removed in order to allow reasonable use of the site on which it is located. In the determination under this section the Superintendent shall consider the following factors:

  1. The potential for increase in erosion or pollution of adjacent water courses created by the removal of the tree; and
  2. Whether or not the removal would substantially reduce the number of trees existing in the neighborhood or adversely affect the appearance of the surrounding area.

Before a permit may be issued under this section the concurrence of the Director of Planning must be obtained. At least two days before a permit is issued the Parks and Trees Superintendent shall notify the Beautification Committee of his intention to issue the permit.

§23B.16. Appeal.

Any decision of the Parks and Trees Superintendent may be appealed by any person aggrieved by the decision. The appeal shall be in writing, signed by the applicant with a statement of the reasons supporting the appeal. It shall be filed with the Secretary of the Planning Commission not later than the tenth calendar day following the decision being appealed from. The Planning Commission shall hear the appeal and render a decision within twenty (20) days. The decision of the Planning Commission shall be final.

Section 2. This Ordinance shall be published once in the Tri-Valley Herald, a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Livermore, within fifteen (15) days from and after its adoption. It shall take effect and be in force thirty (30) days after its adoption.

The foregoing Ordinance was introduced and read at the regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Livermore, held on the 8th day of November, 1976, and finally adopted at the regular meeting of said Council held on the 15th day of November, 1976, by the following vote:

AYES: COUNCIL MEMBERS Dahlbacka, Kamena, Turner and Mayor Tirsell
NOES: None
ABSENT: COUNCIL MEMBER Staley
(Signed) Helen M. Tirsell, Mayor, City of Livermore, California
ATTEST: (Signed) Dorothy J. Hock, City Clerk
APPROVED AS TO FORM: (Signed) (?), City Attorney