MONTEREY COUNTY ZONING ORDINANCE - TITLE 21

21.64.260 PRESERVATION OF OAK AND OTHER PROTECTED TREES

21.64.260 PRESERVATION OF OAK AND OTHER PROTECTED TREES

A. Purpose: The purpose of this Section is to provide the regulations for the protection and preservation of oak and other specific types of trees as required in the Monterey County General Plan, area plans and master plans. This Section is also intended to provide the procedures under which proposed removal of such trees may be considered or exempted.

B. Applicability.

The provisions of this Section are applicable throughout the unincorporated area of the County of Monterey outside the Coastal Zone.

C. Regulations.

Except as provided in Subsection 21.64.260F of this Section the following regulations apply:

1. No oak or madrone tree six inches or more in diameter two feet above ground level shall be removed in the North County Area Plan or Toro Area Plan areas without approval of the permit(s) required in Subsection 21.64.260D.

2. No oak, madrone or redwood tree six inches or more in diameter two feet above ground level shall be removed in the Carmel Valley Master Plan area without approval of the permit(s) required in Subsection 21.64.260D.

3. No native tree six inches or more in diameter two feet above ground level shall be removed in the Cachagua Area Plan area without approval of the permit(s) required in Subsection 21.64.260D.

"Native trees," for the purpose of this subsection, are:

a. Santa Lucia Fir

b. Black Cottonwood

c. Fremont Cottonwood

d. Box Elder

e. Willows

f. California Laurel

g. Sycamores


h. Oaks

i. Madrones

4. No oak tree six inches or more in diameter two feet above ground level may be removed in any other area of the County of Monterey designated in the applicable area plan as Resource Conservation, Residential, Commercial or Industrial (except Industrial, Mineral Extraction) without approval of the permit(s) required in Subsection 21.64.260D.

5. No landmark oak tree shall be removed in any area except as may be approved by the Director of Planning and Building Inspection pursuant to Subsection 21.64.260D.

Landmark oak trees are those trees which are 24 inches or more in diameter when measured two feet above the ground, or trees which are visually significant, historically significant, or exemplary of their species.

6. No oak trees six inches or more in diameter two feet above ground level may be removed in any other area of the County of Monterey designated in the applicable area plan as Agricultural or Industrial, Mineral Extraction, unless such removal meets the purpose and standards required in Subsection 21.64.260E.

7. No oak trees may be removed in any area of the County of Monterey for commercial harvesting purposes without approval of a Use Permit by the Planning Commission.

D. Permits Required.

1. Permit Required: No person shall do, cause, permit, aid, abet, suffer or furnish equipment or labor to remove, cut down or trim more than one-third of the green foliage of, poison or otherwise kill or destroy any tree as specified in this Section until a tree removal permit for the project has first been obtained.

All provisions of this Section shall apply to any person removing trees on behalf of any other person, including all companies or persons in the business of removing trees or construction. It shall be unlawful for any person or company to remove or cause to be removed or undertake any work for which a permit is required under this Section, unless a valid permit has been obtained and is in effect.

2. Removal of Three or Less Protected Trees: The Director of Planning and Building Inspection may approve the removal of no more than three protected trees per lot in a one-year period. The following information shall be submitted to the Director of Planning and Building Inspection prior to consideration of such removal:

a. Applicants or authorized representatives name, address and telephone number;

b. The description of the site(s) involved, including the street address, if any, and the assessor's parcel number;

c. A site plan sufficient to identify and locate the trees to be removed, other trees, buildings, proposed buildings, and other improvements;

d. The purpose for the tree removal;

e. A description of the species, diameter two feet above ground level, estimated height, and general health of the trees to be removed.

f. A description of the method to be used in removing the tree(s);

g. A statement showing how trees not proposed for removal are to be protected during removal or construction;

h. Proposed visual impact mitigation measures the applicant intends to take (if appropriate). Size, location and species of replacement trees, if any, shall be indicated in the site plan;

i. Such further information as may be required by the Director of Planning and Building Inspection, including, but not limited to, the opinion of a registered professional forester, tree surgeon, or other qualified expert to enable the determination of matter required under these regulations.

3. Removal of More Than Three Protected Trees:

a. Removal of more than three protected trees on a lot in a one-year period shall require a Forest Management Plan and approval of a Use Permit by the Monterey County Planning Commission.

b. The Forest Management Plan shall be prepared by a qualified professional forester, as selected from the County's list of Consulting Foresters. Plan preparation shall be at the applicant's expense.

c. The Director of Planning and Building Inspection shall prescribe the format and content requirements for the Forest Management Plan and maintain a list of qualified and acceptable foresters to prepare the Forest Management Plan.

d. All tree removal requests coming under this subsection shall be subject to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

4. Relocation or Replacement: As a consideration of the granting of a permit pursuant to subsections 2 or 3, the applicant shall be required to relocate or replace each removed protected tree on a one-to-one ratio. This requirement may be varied upon a showing that such a requirement will create a special hardship in the use of the site or such replacement would be detrimental to the long-term health and maintenance of the remaining habitat.

5. Required Findings: In order to grant the permit for tree removal, the appropriate authority shall make the following findings based on substantial evidence:

a. The tree removal is the minimum required under the circumstances of the case; and

b. The removal will not involve a risk of adverse environmental impacts such as:

1. Soil erosion;

2. Water Quality: The removal of the trees will not substantially lessen the ability for the natural assimilation of nutrients, chemical pollutants, heavy metals, silt and other noxious substances from ground and surface waters;

3. Ecological Impacts: The removal will not have a substantial adverse impact upon existing biological and ecological systems, climatic conditions which affect these systems, or such removal will not create conditions which may adversely affect the dynamic equilibrium of associated systems;

4. Noise Pollution: The removal will not significantly increase ambient noise levels to the degree that a nuisance is anticipated to occur;

5. Air Movement: The removal will not significantly reduce the ability of the existing vegetation to reduce wind velocities to the degree that a nuisance is anticipated to occur;

6. Wildlife Habitat: The removal will not significantly reduce available habitat for wildlife existence and reproduction or result in the immigration of wildlife from adjacent or associated ecosystems; or

c. The tree is diseased, injured, in danger of falling too close to existing or proposed structures, creates unsafe vision clearance, or is likely to promote the spread of insects of disease.

6. Conditions of Approval: In granting any permit as provided herein, the appropriate authority may attach reasonable conditions to mitigate environmental impacts and ensure compliance with the provisions of this Section, including but not limited to replacement of trees removed.

7. Emergencies: In the case of emergency caused by hazardous or dangerous condition of a tree and requiring immediate action for the safety of life or property, such necessary action may be taken to remove the tree or otherwise reduce or eliminate the hazard without complying with the other provisions of this Section, except that the person responsible for cutting or removal of the tree(s) shall report such action to the Director of Planning and Building Inspection within ten (10) working days thereafter.

E. Purpose and Standards for Agricultural Areas.

Removal of oak trees in the areas outside of the North County Area Plan, Toro Area Plan, Cachagua Area Plan and Carmel Valley Master Plan designated Farmlands, Rural Grazing or Permanent Grazing by the applicable area plan shall be allowed only if the following purposes and standards are satisfied.

1. Oak tree removal is allowed without a permit for any of the following reasons:

a. Rangeland improvement;

b. Promotion of wildlife habitat;

c. Enhancement of watershed area;

d. Elimination of trees hazardous to life or property, or;

e. Firewood for the use of the owners and other persons residing on site.

2. Standards:

a. The current Best Management Practices as promulgated by the University of California Hardwood Range Management Plan shall be followed to maintain and promote regeneration of oak trees.

b. A representative sample of sizes, ages and species of oaks shall be retained with special emphasis placed on retaining samplings.

c. The number of oaks on any acre shall not be reduced to less than 25% canopy existing at the time of adoption of this ordinance.

d. Removal of oak trees encroaching on existing cultivated farmland is allowed.

3. Oak trees on land being converted to irrigated farmland where a Use Permit is required for such conversion by area plan policy shall not be allowed until such use permit is approved and applicable conditions are met.

4. Removal for purposes not under the guidelines of this Subsection may be approved by the Director of Planning and Building Inspection on an individual basis.


F. Exemptions.

The following tree removal activities are exempted from the provisions of this Section:

1. Timber operations which are in accordance with a timber harvesting plan submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Zberg-Nejedly Forest Practices Act of 1973 (commencing with Section 45110 of the Public Resources Code).

2. Tree removal pursuant to Public Utilities Commission General Order 95 or by governmental agencies within public rights of way.

3. Tree removal for construction of structures, roads and other site improvements included in an approved subdivision, Use Permit, or similar discretionary permit.