Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pomona and Tree Preservation

For those who have never read the "Historic Sites Tree Protection and Preservation Program" but live in one of the historic districts, you might want to know if this program affects your property. Let me start by confessing that I love mature trees and wholeheartedly agree that in some cases, public interest can outweigh private property rights when it comes to preserving an urban canopy. One needs only to take a quick drive up Indian Hill Blvd in Claremont to realize the impact of mature trees on the aesthetic elements of a neighborhood, not to mention their role in generating micro-climates and enhancing privacy.

Pomona has embraced conservation of mature trees through a number of resolutions over the years. In 1962, after receiving a proposal from the Street Tree Commission, the City Council passed Resolution 62-65 which sought to mitigate the loss of mature street trees (specimen trees) by altering curbs or sidewalks whenever possible. In 1973, the city identified several "specimen trees" within the city. In 2000, the Council passed a resolution adopting the historic tree preservation ordinance, which protects mature and specimen trees in the historic districts and at historic landmarks. And in 2007, the Council added city-wide protection to oak trees by amending the Zoning ordinance.

From reading the Council minutes and supporting documents, it appears the city may have yet another tree preservation ordinance that I couldn't find, so much appreciated if anyone can offer the info up.

Street tree preservation: CC Resolution 62-65
Specimen tree: CC Resolution 73-68
Historic tree preservation: City Council resolution 2000-72 (page 4+ are supporting documents)
Oak tree preservation: ordinance no. 4076

The evolution from street tree preservation, to specimen tree preservation, then historic tree preservation, and now to every oak with an 8 inch diameter at chest height in the city is actually an interesting read. In a nutshell, the city has moved from "preserving" trees on public space to "preserving" trees on private property, and in the process, the restrictions have become more onerous and the penalties more punitive.

So what is the Street Tree Commission that I mentioned in the earlier paragraph? It's appears to be subcommittee that can be formed by the Parks and Rec Commission. Given the burden being leveled on private property owners, perhaps it's time this generation of Pomona residents actively pursues a plan for planting trees in public right-of-ways. Pomona's tree heritage may lie more in the trees we plant today than in the trees that will more than likely be dead in 50 years.

512 McKinley
According to the documents, the birch tree at 512 McKinley was determined by the city arborist to be dead, and therefore should have probably been exempt from the COA. The Planning Department suggested giving the residents the opportunity to move the queen palms or replace them in the yard with other box trees. As for the gum tree, at 45 feet in height and only 30 inches from the house, the Planning Department's recommendation was to remove the tree, because of the risk to the house. Let's hope the City Council reverses this decision by the Historic Preservation Commission before the tree falls on the house and/or injures a resident, because I don't see the city winning this lawsuit.


Anonymous said...

everyones scared to

Ed said...

Lol, I'm considering this post as a public service. It took me awhile to find the pertinent Council resolutions, so I'm saving others from the misery. It behooves residents to be aware of the legal restrictions (and exemptions), and holy cow, the penalty for unapproved oak tree removal (citywide) is draconian.