Jun 26

Updated heritage tree ordinance goes into effect July 1

Posted on June 26, 2020 at 1:44 pm by Clay Curtin

On November 19, 2019, the City Council approved a new heritage tree ordinance that is effective July 1. The City Council updated the ordinance to preserve the City's tree canopy with the intention to plant and protect more replacement trees and to increase preservation of healthy heritage trees in development projects. 

The following sections describe the new changes due to the amended heritage tree ordinance:
  • Heritage tree permit applications: To practice safety protocols during the pandemic, applicants may submit heritage tree permit applications online. Paper applications will no longer be accepted after October 1.
  • Decision-making criteria: The new criteria is more concise and more clear. 
  • Replacement tree requirements: For non-development projects, the requirements depends on the size of the heritage tree’s trunk diameter. For development projects, the monetary value of the replacement trees must be at least equal to the appraised value of the heritage tree. If those requirements cannot be met, a written statement is needed to explain why an in lieu fee payment shall be allowed.
  • City-approved consulting arborist list: Applicants must hire one of the consulting arborists from the City’s approved list, which will be available on the City’s website.
  • Appeal process: Community members must submit an appeal form and payment electronically or hard copy to initiate the appeal process. The new ordinance changed who is eligible to appeal, the appealing body is different and the City may request additional materials. 
Staff created heritage tree ordinance administrative guidelines to explain how to comply with the updated ordinance, which should be read with ordinance. The guidelines may be modified more readily than the ordinance, to reflect changes in the industry and establish best practices. They are available for public review and any community member may submit his/her feedback.

To provide feedback, please submit a heritage tree administrative guideline form. 

Please visit the Sustainability Division webpage for an overview of the updated heritage tree ordinance

To learn more or for questions about the new heritage tree ordinance, please contact Sustainability Specialist Joanna Chen.

Blog post--backyard heritage trees
Jun 22

Summer tips to keep cool and save energy

Posted on June 22, 2020 at 9:39 pm by Clay Curtin

Summer is here and with it comes warm weather. We are all doing our part by staying at home. That means household energy use has likely increased which could mean a rise in energy bills. Here are some simple tips to help your home stay cool, save energy and lower your electric bill. 
  • Close the blinds or shades in the morning to reduce solar heat gain. Keep the windows closed to keep cooler air inside.
  • When temperatures cool down in the evening, open windows to let the cooler air in.
  • Don’t cook in the oven, as it heats up the house. Use the microwave oven instead.
  • Use fans to help people feel cool. Air running across the skin can make it feel up to 4 degrees cooler. At night, set them in the window to help draw in cooler air.
  • Set the air conditioning thermostat to 78 degrees.
  • Put your computer in sleep mode or shut it down when not in use.
  • Turn down the brightness on your screens and use eco-friendly modes when possible.
  • If you have a dishwasher, be sure to wait until it is full to run it.

For more tips, visit Energy Upgrade California website.

Jun 16

Leave the fireworks to the experts

Posted on June 16, 2020 at 11:29 am by Clay Curtin

Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals, and not to use any fireworks at home. In Menlo Park, ALL fireworks are illegal (including so called “safe and sane” fireworks).

In 2018, five people died and over 9,100 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. Of these, nearly 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under age 20. Approximately 5,600 fireworks related injuries, over 62% of injuries took place during the one month period from June 22 to July 22, 2018. An estimated 1,700 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers – 500 of those from sparklers alone!

Additionally, fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries and $105 million in direct property damage. (Source: National Fire Protection Association)

Police will respond quickly to reports of unlawful use and/or possession of fireworks. Anyone found using or in possession of fireworks is subject to citations and/or arrest. Residents can report the use of fireworks by calling the police non-emergency number at 650-330-6300.