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11.60.060 Tree Maintenance Specifications and Responsibilities.

The following specifications apply to all trees in the city. The purpose of these provisions is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, safeguard public infrastructure assets, and ensure the continued health of the urban forest.

A.  General.

1.  Permits required. Any person pruning, removing, or conducting any other work on any Street Tree or City Tree and any person removing any regulated Private Tree in order to comply with the requirements of this Section, shall first obtain a Type A tree permit in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 11.30. The application fee may be waived when the City forester has directed the work to be done.

2.  Responsibilities.

a.  Property owner. It is the duty of every owner of property to maintain trees located on the property or on the adjacent street planting area in accordance with this Section. Further, the owner shall be responsible for all costs associated with such maintenance, removal and any tree replacement, if required.

b.  Bureau of Transportation. For trees located in center medians, the Bureau of Transportation is responsible for the requirements of this Section.

c.  Bureau of Environmental Services. For trees located in green street facilities as described in Title 17, the Bureau of Environmental Services is responsible for the requirements in this Section.

3.  City Forester authority for tree maintenance. The City Forester may or may direct others to prune, remove or treat to control insects and disease for any trees in the streets, parks, other City owned or managed properties, or private properties if the City Forester determines that controlling insect infestations, disease or dangerous conditions is needed to maintain the public health, safety or health of the urban forest.

4.  Available remedies. In addition to specific remedies cited in this Section, any infractions or violations of these requirements may additionally be corrected or enforced per the provisions in Chapter 11.70.

B.  Dead, Dying and Dangerous Trees.

1.  All trees which are determined by the City Forester or a private arborist to be dead, dying, or dangerous as defined in this Title are required to be removed to safeguard people or property. The City may require a replacement tree at the property owner’s expense.

2.  Conflicting determinations. In the case where there are conflicts in the determinations from a private arborist or arborists, the City Forester shall make the final determination.

3.  Exceptions. A dead or dying tree that is being maintained as a snag, or does not otherwise result in a public nuisance as described in this Section or Chapter 29.20, Property Nuisances, may remain provided it is not deemed dangerous.

C.  Dutch Elm Disease prevention and eradication.

1.  Infected elms and elmwood. All species and varieties of elm trees (genus Ulmus) infected with the fungus known as Dutch elm disease (Ophiostoma ulmi or Ophiostoma novo-ulmi) as determined by laboratory analysis are declared to be a public nuisance. It is the duty of any owner of a lot or parcel where infected elmwood is present to promptly remove any such elm tree or dead elmwood under the supervision and direction of the City Forester.

2.  Pruning restrictions. Pruning any species or varieties of elm trees between April 15 and October 15 is prohibited. This prohibition may be waived by the City Forester when such pruning is necessary to remove hazard limbs, provide the clearances otherwise required by this Section or for other causes as deemed necessary by the City Forester. In cases where the City Forester has allowed pruning to occur during the pruning prohibition period, the responsible party shall properly dispose of removed elm wood within 24 hours.

3.  Authority to inspect. The City Forester is hereby authorized to enter upon any lot or parcel during business hours for the purposes of inspecting any elm tree or dead elmwood situated thereon, obtaining specimens for the purpose of laboratory analysis or to determine whether such tree because it is dead or substantially dead may serve as a breeding place for the European or native elm bark beetle (genus Scolytus). If the City Forester determines that the tree serves such purpose, the City Forester may declare the elm tree or dead elmwood a public nuisance.

4.  Determination and action. If, based on analysis of specimens removed from any elm tree, it is determined that such tree is infected, or the City Forester determines that any dead or substantially dead elm trees or dead elmwood may harbor the elm bark beetle, the City Forester will serve a written notice requiring the property owner or responsible party to remove, destroy and properly dispose of such trees or dead Elmwood located on the property or on the adjacent street planting area. If the property owner or responsible party fails, neglects or refuses to remove and destroy, or properly dispose of, such elm tree or dead elmwood within 15 days after service of such notice, the City Forester may abate the nuisance as provided in Chapter 11.70.

D.  Clearances. The property owner or responsible party is required to prune or remove, if necessary, any tree located on the property or on the abutting street planting area when said trees are not maintained to meet the branch clearances as set forth below:

1.  Sidewalk clearance. Branches of trees extending over sidewalks may not be less than 7½ feet above the sidewalk.

2.  Roadway clearance. Branches of trees extending into any public or private roadway may not be less than 11 feet above the pavement. Moreover, on any street designated as a Regional Trafficway, Major City Traffic Street, District Collector, or a one-way street where parking has been prohibited, branches shall be trimmed to a height of 14 feet above the crown of the street.

3.  Overhead powerline clearance. Branches of any tree may not interfere with any light, pole, or overhead powerline used in connection with or as a part of the City or Public Utility system. In addition to the authority granted to the City to prune or direct property owners to prune trees in violation of this Section, a Public Utility operating pursuant to an approved Programmatic Permit may also prune any tree which interferes with the safe operation of the utility system.

E.  Visibility. The owner or responsible party shall keep trees located on the property or on the adjacent street planting area from completely or partially obstructing visibility as follows:

1.  Visibility of traffic control devices such as directional and informational signs as defined by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices;

2.  Visibility for drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians; or

3.  In any way that presents an unreasonable hazard to the travelling public.

F.  Sidewalks and curbs.

1.  Obstructions. The owner or responsible party shall keep the sidewalk adjacent to the owner’s property clear of branches, leaves, flowers, fruit or other organic matter that may obstruct or render the passage of persons unsafe.

2.  Repairs. When the curb or sidewalk, or both, abutting any property become damaged or in a state of disrepair because of a tree maintained by the property owner, the repair of the curb or sidewalk, or both, will be treated as other curb or sidewalk repairs in accordance with the provisions of Title 17. The removal of any tree or portion thereof, as the Responsible Engineer in consultation with the City Forester may determine necessary, will be granted through the appropriate tree permit. The City may require alternative construction methods be used in order to retain the tree. If the tree is removed, the City Forester may require that the removed tree be replaced in accordance with the required permit.

G.  Public waterlines, storm sewers and sanitary sewers.

1.  Damage from Roots. Whenever the Responsible Engineer finds that roots of any tree have entered any sewer, drain or waterline in the street or City-owned easement, and are stopping, restricting, retarding the flow of sewage or drainage, or causing waterline leakage or believes that removal of the tree is necessary to reasonably prevent future root entry into the sewage, drainage, or water facility, the Responsible Engineer may refer the condition to the City Forester.

2.  Remedies. In addition to the remedies described in Chapter 11.70, the City Forester may remedy the violation by directing the property owner or responsible party to prune the roots or remove the tree. If the City Forester believes that the required amount of root pruning will irreparably damage or destroy the tree, the City Forester will notify the owner and require removal and replacement of the tree. Nothing in this Subsection will be construed to limit the Responsible Engineer’s authority to separately invoke abatement proceedings.

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