Heritage tree replacements

The overall goal of the heritage tree ordinance’s replacement requirement is to ensure continued canopy cover is maintained or increased. Ideally, the replacement tree(s) should:

  • Replace the removed canopy cover in a period of approximately 15 to 20 years;
  • Reach a mature height of at least 35 feet; and
  • Be a California native.

Cal Poly's SelecTree tree selection guide is a great resource; otherwise below are some some examples of replacement tree species that meet the criteria listed above.

Under Municipal Code Section 13.24.090(1), an approved replacement tree list is not provided as site conditions are unknown and will vary from each property. A specified list also limits species diversity. It is recommended that assistance of a certified arborist be sought prior to selecting a tree and planting location.

Deciduous trees (lose their leaves in winter)

  • Accolade elm (Ulmus ‘Morton’)
  • Black oak (Quercus kellogii)
  • Black walnut (Juglans hindsii)
  • Blue oak (Quercus douglasii)
  • California sycamore (Platanus racemose)
  • Chinese flame (Koelreuteria bipinnata)
  • Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
  • Chinese tallow (Triadica sebiferum)
  • Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii)
  • Forest green oak/Hungarian oak (Quercus frainetto 'Forest Green')
  • Frontier elm (Ulmus carpinfolia x parvifolia ‘Frontier’)
  • Japanese pagoda (Styphnolobium japonicum)
  • Kentucky coffee (Gymnocladus dioicus 'Espresso', 'Prairie Titan')
  • Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
  • Rotundiloba sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua 'Rotundiloba')
  • Shademaster locust (Gleditsia triancanthos var. inermis ‘Shademaster’)
  • Silver linden (Tilia tomentosa)
  • Texas red oak (Quercus buckleyi)
  • Valley oak (Quercus lobata)
  • Western catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Evergreen trees (retain their leaves in the winter)

  • African fern pine (Afrocarpus gracilior)
  • Arizona cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica)
  • Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
  • Avocado tree (Persea Americana)
  • Brisbane box (Lophostemon confertus)
  • Cajeput tree (Melaluca quinquenervia)
  • California bay laurel (Umbellaria californica)
  • Camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Canary island pine (Pinus canariensis)
  • Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua)
  • Catalina ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus)
  • Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)
  • Cork oak (Quercus suber)
  • Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara)
  • Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)
  • Island oak (Quercus tomentella)
  • Lemon-scented gum (Corymbia citriodora)
  • Peruvian pepper (Schinus molle)
  • Red flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia)
  • Saratoga laurel (Laurus nobilis 'Saratoga')
  • Silk oak (Grevillea robusta)
  • Silver leaf oak (Quercus hypoleucoides)
  • Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata)
  • Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana)

In reference to Section 13.24.090(2), applicants may use the following monetary value of the replacement trees to help design their landscape plans for development-related removals:

  • One (1) #5 container – $100
  • One (1) #15 container – $200
  • One (1) 24-inch tree box – $400
  • One (1) 36-inch tree box – $1,200
  • One (1) 48-inch tree box – $5,000
  • One (1) 60-inch tree box – $7,000

The spacing requirement between each replacement tree should be 25 feet, regardless of the container size. To be eligible for the in lieu fee, applicants must explain why the value of the replacement trees are not equal to the appraised value of the removed heritage trees.

In reference to Section 13.24.090 (3) for decisions made under Criteria 1, 2, 3, or 4, the monetary value of a replacement tree correlates with the size of the heritage tree trunk diameter (measured from 54 inches above grade). For every heritage tree proposed for removal, it must be replaced by the following replacement tree requirement:

  • An oak heritage tree with a trunk diameter of 10 to 15 inches has a minimum replacement tree requirement of one (1) #5 container. The monetary value is $100.
  • Any heritage tree with a trunk diameter of greater than 15 inches to 20 inches has a minimum replacement tree requirement of one (1) #15 container. The monetary value is $200.
  • Any heritage tree with a trunk diameter of greater than 20 inches to 30 inches has a minimum replacement tree requirement of one (1) 24-inch tree box. The monetary value is $400.
  • Any heritage tree with a trunk diameter of greater than 30 inches to 40 inches has a minimum replacement tree requirement of one (1) 36-inch tree box. The monetary value is $1,200.
  • Any heritage tree with a trunk diameter of greater than 40 inches to 50 inches has a minimum replacement tree requirement of one (1) 48-inch tree box. The monetary value is $5,000.
  • Any heritage tree with a trunk diameter of greater than 50 inches has a minimum replacement tree requirement of one (1) 60-inch tree box. The monetary value is $7,000.

Applicants shall submit written statements or landscape plans to describe how they will fulfill the replacement tree requirements. The submissions shall include: (a) the replacement tree species, (b) the container size, (c) the planting location, and (d) an in lieu fee payment, if applicable. The spacing between the replacement trees should be 25 feet.

Contact us

Joanna Chen

Management Analyst
Email

650-330-6764

Heritage tree ordinance administrative guidelines

FAQs

How do I measure a tree that has multiple trunks?

Multi-trunk trees, also known as multi-stemmed trees, with a union above the existing grade is measured by the following steps:

  • Measure the diameter of each trunk at 4.5 feet in height above the ground
  • Add the diameter measure measurement of each trunk and use the sum to determine trunk diameter.

Multi-stemmed trees with a union occurring below the existing grade shall be considered individual trees and diameter measurements will be taken for each individual stem to determine trunk diameter – independent of the other stem diameters.

How much of a heritage tree can I prune without a permit?

Up to one fourth of canopy and/or roots.

Where could I get an application to remove or heavily prune a heritage tree?

  1. Permit applicants may submit applications online through the City’s online permit portal. Please register for an account by creating a username and password. Under the "Public Works" tab, select "Create an application." After reviewing conditions and terms, the heritage tree application can be found under "Select a Record Type" in under smaller font "Public Works" tab. Select "Heritage Tree Permit" and continue application.
  2. City website under "Related Documents" on the right side. Please note paper applications are no longer accepted.

What do I need to submit to the City for a permit application to remove or heavily prune a Heritage tree?

  1. Completed application form
  2. Payment (check for fee)
  3. Completed certified arborist form
  4. Replacement tree plan, which may be either a written statement or landscape plan to state the tree replacement species, container size, planting location, and in lieu fee payment (if applicable)

Is there a fee for the permit?

Please refer to the City of Menlo ParkMaster Fee Schedule(PDF, 706KB) for current permit fees.

Do I need a permit to remove a dead heritage tree?

Yes, but there is no fee. An arborist report is not required if the application is submitted with pictures to show evidence the heritage tree is dead.

What is required for heritage trees related to development applications?

In addition to the heritage tree permit application, the applicant must submit a complete arborist report which must be written by a consulting arborist from the City-approved list. A complete arborist report includes:

  1. An arborist report may, but not limited to include, tree inventory table, the tree appraisal value of each heritage tree
  2. A tree protection and mitigation guidelines to disclose the tree protection fencing requirements and other details
  3. A tree plan/site map to include a replacement tree plan
  4. Any other support documentations, such as diagrams or pictures.

Could the city arborist come out and take a look at my tree before I apply for a permit?

No. The arborist will evaluate your tree after the application has been submitted. Exception: if the tree is a street tree, the City takes responsibility for the removal.

Can the City recommend a certified arborist?

The City will provide an approved list of qualified consulting arborists, which will be available in July. Permit applications are required to be accompanied by an arborist report prepared by one of those approved arborists. The only exception is under Criterion 1 (the heritage tree is dead) if the application is submitted with pictures, then when no arborist report is required.

On what basis does the city arborist approve a permit?

The decision making criteria described in Menlo Park Municipal Section 13.24.050(a) are closely tied to industry standards and require the provision of evidence to demonstrate a heritage tree is: dead, dying or poses a significant risk, significantly restricts reasonable economic enjoyment of the property, or interferes with utilities.

Decision making criteria Description
Criterion 1: Death
The heritage tree is dead.
Criterion 2: Tree risk rating
The condition of heritage tree poses a high or extreme risk rating under the International Society of Arboriculture Best Management Practices.
Criterion 3: Tree health rating
The heritage tree is (a) dying or has a severe disease, pest infestation, intolerance to adverse site conditions, or (b) likely to die within a year.
Criterion 4: Species
The heritage tree has been designated as invasive or low species desirability.
Criterion 5: Development
The heritage tree interferes with (a) proposed development, repair, alteration, or improvement of a site or (b) the heritage tree is causing/contributing to structural damage to a habitable building. There is no financially feasible and reasonable design alternative that would permit preservation of the heritage tree.
Criterion 6: Utility Inference
The removal is requested by a utility, public transportation agency, or other governmental agency due to a health or safety risk resulting from the heritage tree’s interference with existing or planned public infrastructure. There is no financially feasible and reasonable design alternative that would permit preservation of the heritage tree.

How do I find the status of my permit application?

  1. Go to the City's online permit portal.
  2. Towards the end of the webpage under Public Works, click "Search Application."
  3. Under General Search, find the Record Type section and select "Heritage Tree Permit."

Can I appeal the decision?

Who can appeal is dependent on how the city arborist makes his decision and the appeal period is 15 days after the decision date.

  • If the decision is based on Criterion 1, 2, 3, or 4, only the permit applicant may appeal.
  • If the decision is based on Criterion 5 or 6, any community member (residents, property owners, permit applicants) may appeal.

Please refer to the heritage tree ordinance for more details on the decision making criteria or the City website and refer to the Master Fee Schedule(PDF, 706KB) for the appeal fee.

Do I have to plant a replacement tree?

The overall goal of the Heritage Tree Ordinance’s replacement requirement is to ensure continued canopy cover is maintained or increased. Ideally, the replacement tree(s) should replace the removed canopy cover in a period of approximately 15 to 20 years.

The City provides a list of recommended trees in the administrative guidelines, but here are other options:

  1. Visit Cal Poly’s SelecTree webpage to help select a replacement tree and fill in at least these characteristics:
    • Mature height must be greater or equal to 35 feet; and
    • Select the “California Native” option
  2. Confirm on UC Davis’s Water Use Classification of Landscape Species webpage that the selected replacement tree’s water usage is either very low, low, or moderate/medium.
  3. Confirm the selected tree has an overall desirability of 4 or less as defined in the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture: Species Classification and Group Assignment, 2004, or the most current edition. Your project arborist may have a copy of the book.

What if I don’t have any space on my property to replant a tree that has been approved for removal?

Applicants must submit a written statement to explain why they are unable to meet the tree replacement requirement. The city arborist may have to inspect the property and determine whether there is space for the replacement tree. If the written statement is approved, applicants may pay an in lieu fee. For development-related removals, the in lieu fee will be the appraised value of the heritage trees. For non-development projects, the in lieu fee is based on the monetary value of the replacement tree, which correlates with the size of the heritage tree truck diameter. For more information, please review the administrative guidelines(PDF, 394KB).

Is there a public platform to track permit applications, pending appeals, and proposed tree replacements?

To the extent permitted by law, the City shall make publicly available all heritage tree permit removal and pruning applications, replacement tree requirements and appeals. Applicants shall submit pictures of the replacement trees once they has be planted in the ground.

What are tree appraisals and why are they required?

For development projects, the appraised value (calculated by City-approved certified arborist) of all heritage trees on site shall be submitted with the arborist report prior to the issuance of any building permit. The tree replacement and trunk formula are common tree appraisal methodologies as described in the most recent edition of the Guide for Plant Appraisal. The appraised values will be used to evaluate the value of replacement trees and any potential violation fees.

Will notices be required for decisions made under Criterion 1, 2, 3, or 4?

A notice of removal posting is not required and nearby property owners will not be noticed. This is because only the permit applicant may appeal the decision.