Trees continually move through their life cycle in an urban area just as they do in a natural forest.
If the life cycle were allowed to go to completion in an urban area, ending in tree collapse and decomposition,
numerous problems would arise. At some point in the life cycle a decision must be made to remove a tree.
A preservation approach exists in this City so that trees are not removed unnecessarily. Certain criteria
are used to make the judgment of when a tree is removed. Five general categories are used:
- Tree is dead, dying, or diseased.
- Tree poses a potential safety problem.
- Tree is an undesirable species.
- Tree is creating a hardship.
- Construction necessitates removal.
Tree is Dead, Dying, or Diseased
Being a living organism trees at some point die or become diseased unless their cycle is interrupted at
an earlier stage. When this occurs the trees must be removed before the final decay processes set in and a
safety problem occurs.
Tree Poses a Potential Safety Problem
Trees can pose a potential safety problem even with a sound maintenance program. Growth habits and
strengths of limbs and trunks are variable. It is also difficult to know what is occurring below the ground.
Certain signs of decay or weakening can be detected during an inspection. These signs can be such things as
fungal growth, split trunks, cavities, and a poor general appearance. Even though the tree may still be
functioning and producing desirable benefits, an inspection could show that a potential problem is present
which poses a high risk to public safety. If corrective steps are not feasible removal of the tree may be
At times work done around the root system of a tree could leave the tree with poor anchorage. Assessments
are then necessary to determine if the tree must be removed. For example, if a tree is located near a sewer
line and the property owner must gain access to repair the line, the tree may have to be removed because of
the severe root loss that occurs while clearing the area of roots for repair. Some trees can produce fruit
that could cause slipping hazards for pedestrians. If the fruiting habits cannot be altered, removal of
the tree may be necessary.
Tree is an Undesirable Species
Some trees that are on right-of-ways or easements may have undesirable traits. Thorns, brittleness, heavy
fruiting, and extremely invasive root systems are some of the reasons a tree may be undesirable. Most of these
trees are planted by birds or well meaning citizens. Some examples of undesirable trees are Willows, Poplars,
Tree of Heaven, and Mulberry. When an undesirable species is found its condition and value are reviewed and
removal may be necessary.
Tree is Creating a Hardship
Conflicts of some type occur with every tree. What is considered by some residents to be a hardship may
not be to others. For example, some residents may consider raking leaves a hardship; others may feel that
insect damage creates a hardship.
In order to provide a consistent interpretation, hardship is interpreted to mean structural problems such as
cracking or rising of a garage floor that could be associated with tree root growth. When alternatives have been
attempted and the problem continues removal is considered as a potential solution.
Removal of trees due to hardship is generally considered in cases for disabled residents with special
circumstances involving accessibility.
Construction Necessitates Removal
Property usage can change, primarily in the downtown area. When existing trees are in conflict with major
improvements, such as new building construction, removal is considered during the permit process. However,
whenever possible, trees will be preserved in new construction projects. If removal is the only alternative
during a construction project, the property owner is responsible for removal and replacement of any impacted trees.
Replacement trees must be of a size as near to the size of the tree removed as possible within practical
Occasionally in residential areas a property owner may want to widen a driveway where a tree exists. If the tree
is less than 6 in diameter and 4-1/2 feet above ground, a removal may be allowed under permit procedures.
The property owner is responsible for all costs and tasks necessary for removal and replacement of the tree.
If a replacement is not possible, a charge equivalent to the current planting cost of a 24 boxed tree is assessed
to the property owner.