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Ideas to improve the Heritage Tree Ordinance

From: domainremoved <gabrielle>
Date: Mon, 6 May 2019 10:22:43 -0700

Heritage Tree Task Force Members,

Below are suggestions from residents of Menlo Park who believe that there is a gap between the Heritage Tree Ordinance and enforcement of the ordinance. A recent situation where a residential developer severely damaged a heritage live oak at 1911 Menalto has left many asking how the ordinance can be enforced by the City. This latest situation began at 11 am when the chain saws were buzzing and the phone calls to the City began. We were met with full phone message boxes, an argumentative police dispatcher and leaving messages that were not returned. By early afternoon the damage tot he tree was done. The MP Building Department has put a stop-work order on the development until an agreed upon mitigation is determined.

The ongoing work by your task force was initiated in early 2018 and has a roll out date of July 2020. In the mean time, too many heritage trees are being cut down or damaged. Perhaps it is time for the Heritage Tree Task Force to turn its work back to the Council for a timely completion. It is imperative that both commercial developers and homeowners are held responsible to follow the City’s ordinance that protects heritage trees. It would not surprise us that commercial developers see the City’s fine of $1,000 as the cost of doing business and nothing more. Steve and Brielle


Suggestions from Steve Schmidt and Brielle Johnck

* A violation of the ordinance should result in a fine of up to $100,000.

* Planning department approvals for residential and commercial developments where heritage trees have been identified should include the following:

        a) the city arborist makes a site visit

        b) the final city-approved arborist’s report and the foundation plans be copied to the building department for the City’s inspectors review.

        c) the final operative city- approved arborist’s report is kept on construction site by the developer.

* The City building department, the police dispatcher and code enforcement should be briefed on the Menlo Park Heritage Tree Ordinance

* All heritage trees identified on a building site should be wrapped with orange plastic webbing and clearly identified

* All building sites with heritage trees identified should include a city approved orange flag that remains upright on a post at the street frontage.


Suggestions from Margaret Spak

Menlo Park Heritage Tree Task Force

It saddens me that the city is losing so many of our precious trees in MP. If this keeps up we will no longer have the beautiful canopy that makes our city so special. We might as well put a tree being chopped down on the City Seal, since sadly and unfortunately that is becoming the reality.

I feel it is time to beef up our ordinances in MP to protect our trees. Because of this incident at 1911 Menalto Ave. we know the channels of communication within the City are NOT WORKING. Residents can’t help a tree that has been already horribly ‘hacked’ by a developer or a homeowner)

I PROPOSE the following changes to the HERITAGE TREE ORDINANCE IN MP that requires whenever permits are issued for renovation or building:

1) An inventory of all heritage trees on construction sites should be conducted by the MP arborist who documents the trees/location on the property.
2) Pictures of the heritage trees be taken along with confirmed measurements and added to the current files regrading that property kept by the city.
3) Any developer/builder who applies for a permit is REQUIRED to:
        a) read and understand the MP Heritage tree ordinance
        b) abide by that ordinance and will not in any way prune or modify a heritage tree during renovation or building.
        c) acknowledge all heritage trees that have been identified on that property attaching the pictures to their request for a permit to renovate or build. Put fences around those trees to protect them during construction.
        d) provide proof to the city that all subcontractors on the site have signed a document understanding the City’s Heritage Tree Ordinance and the City’s fines for violations. (sometimes general contractors try to use the excuse that they subcontractors did not know that the trees had to be protected)
4) Required Periodic Inspections during construction work and at the conclusion, that include the City’s ‘building’ inspectors and arborist to insure that the heritage trees have not been damaged or pruned in ANY WAY.
5) Fines be substantially increased to make it is economically 'painful' for a developer to violate the heritage tree ordinance. (otherwise they don't care and would prefer to chop down a tree, pay the fine, rather than preserve it)
We are losing too many of our beautiful trees now due to neglect on the city's part (i.e. not enforcing the ordinance to result in 700 heritage trees chopped down in 2018) and developers as well as newly arrived home owners not caring about our urban canopy..

Best
Peg Spak
---
381 Santa Margarita
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Received on Mon May 06 2019 - 10:17:35 PDT

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