Tree Removals

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:

  1. Tree is dead, dying, or diseased.
  2. Tree poses a potential safety problem.
  3. Tree is an undesirable species.
  4. Tree is creating a hardship.
  5. 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 necessary.

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 limits.

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.