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New Tree Ordinance for Sacramento
City Is Consolidating Three Tree Ordinances into One to Clarify and Simplify Urban Forestry Policies


Sacramento is streamlining its tree ordinances because they offer "no predictability for developers, design professionals, city residents and business owners." Photo: American River bike trail in Sacramento, courtesy of Visit Sacramento

The Sacramento City Council is updating its tree ordinances to "streamline urban forestry policies, ensure a consistent application of best management practices and focus the policies on outcomes that will contribute to the sustenance of the city's urban forest."

Sacramento (pop. 466,488) of course is the Golden State's capital, sitting at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers. More importantly, the waterways offer a deep-water port to San Francisco Bay via a channel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The city has been operating with three tree-related ordinances: one for trees in general; one for Dutch elm disease; and one for heritage trees.

The city is bringing all things tree into a single ordinance chapter to clarify and simplify the city's urban forestry policies. The old ordinances are deemed deficient because they offer "no predictability for developers, design professionals, city residents and business owners." The objective is to provide updated urban forestry policies to city departments for consistent application to new development, capital improvement projects, streetscapes, park planning, water and energy conservation programs.

The new ordinance will establish procedures for protecting identified community trees and establishing regulations for permits that affect protected trees.

The ordinance falls under the purview of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state's broadest environmental law.

The proposed changes to improve the urban tree canopy are consistent with the city's sustainability master plan to maximize the number of "Complete Streets," which by definition are safe for all modes of travel.

Updating the tree ordinances will help increase the urban tree canopy, which in turn will reduce the city's carbon footprint, while improving the quality of life for residents.

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May 19, 2019, 8:29 am PDT

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