Heritage tree ordinance update

The City of Menlo Park is in the process of updating the heritage tree ordinance. The project is being led by the Sustainability Division of the City Manager’s Office, and includes collaboration across various city departments and community stakeholders.

The desired outcome of the ordinance update is to ensure a significant and thriving population of large healthy trees in Menlo Park for public enjoyment and environmental sustainability while balancing property rights and implementation efficiency. 
Some initial areas being examined for enhancement are:
  • Definition of a heritage tree
  • Permit procedure for protection, heavy pruning and removal
  • Specification of penalties for violation and enforcement mechanisms
  • Replacement and mitigation procedures for removals (i.e: replacement ratios, identifying appropriate species)
  • Roles of City staff, city commissions and City Council in permit and appeal process
Interdepartmental and community engagement throughout this process is vital to the meaningful update and the successful implementation of this ordinance. To ensure that community input is captured, a task force will be formed to aid in the exploration and refinement of the policy options. 

Project history 


The City of Menlo Park first adopted its heritage tree ordinance in 1979 and has since been amended five times. The last amendment took place in 2006. Over the past several years, concerns have arose with development-related appeals, unpermitted approvals and enforcement of tree replacements. As a result, the City Council included reviewing and updating the heritage tree ordinances as part of their 2017-2018 work plans. 

Current status


The City is currently in the process of forming a Heritage Tree Task Force. The task force will function as a collaborative engagement process. This means that the task force will work in partnership with the consultant team and staff. The formation of a task force will ensure that diverse interests and concerns are discussed and worked through to find middle ground solutions. Staff will look to the task force for advice and innovation in formulating solutions and options, and incorporate task force advice and recommendations into decisions to the maximum extent possible. 

Next steps


The following is a tentative schedule for upcoming community task force meeting times and date. The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 23, 2018, in the “Downtown” Conference Room at City Hall, 701 Laurel St.

The task force will function as a collaborative engagement process. This means that the task force will work in partnership with the consultant team and staff. The formation of a task force will ensure that diverse interests and concerns are discussed and worked through to find middle ground solutions. Staff will look to the task force for advice and innovation in formulating solutions and options, and incorporate task force advice and recommendations into decisions to the maximum extent possible. 

 Date and time  Topic  Location
Thursday,
August 23, 2018
6-9 p.m.
Introduction of roles and responsibilities City Hall - "Downtown" Conference Room
701 Laurel St.
Thursday,
September 13, 2018
6-9 p.m.
Discuss criteria and best practices for option analysis City Hall - "Downtown" Conference Room
701 Laurel St.
Wednesday,
October 3, 2018

6-9 p.m.                                          
Finalize criteria and best practices for option analysis City Hall - "Downtown" Conference Room
701 Laurel St.
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