Trees in Belvedere are protected by Belvedere Municipal Code and Policy because they will often provide screening, privacy, and shade. Before removing a tree, review relevant City Code and Policy, and then contact the Planning Department by email or call (415) 435-8902.
Relevant City Code and Policy
Pursuant to Section 20.04 of Belvedere's Municipal Code, Design Review is required for landscaping changes when a visually significant portion of the property is affected. This includes the removal of visually significant trees. Significance can be determined by the size of the tree, the number of trees to be removed, and the relationship of the tree to the lot and surrounding development.
Most significant tree removals will require a site inspection by an independent, City-contracted arborist. The cost for the report is charged to the applicant. Reports hired by the property owners cannot be considered for "independent" review.
Approval of the removal of trees will typically require that replacement trees be planted – the general guideline is two new trees for each tree removed. You can begin the Design Review process here or contact the Planning Department by email or call (415) 435-8902.
Hazardous Tree Removal
The City allows removal of trees that pose threats to public safety and private property, including those that are diseased and/or dying. If you suspect that a tree on your property, your neighbor's property or City property is hazardous, review Belvedere's Municipal Code 8.28.40 for further guidance and contact the Public Works Department by email or call (415) 435-4111.
Tree Pruning & Trimming Standards
For the long-term health and structural stability of trees in the City, it is critical that pruning and trimming practices conform to professional standards established by the tree care industry. The City requires that any work conducted on public trees confirm to these industry standards, whether the work is initiated by the City or the adjacent property owner. Further, the City encourages that pruning and trimming of trees on private property conform to these same professional standards. The City recognizes the most current editions of the following benchmark standards for tree pruning:
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 Pruning Standards
- ANSI Z133.1 Safety Standards
- ISA Best Management Practices: Tree Pruning
City arborists and contractors should obtain copies of the above publications and apply the standards and guidelines when engaged in pruning operations in the City.
Trees In The Right-of-Way
Many of the roads on Belvedere and Corinthian Island are lined with lush vegetation and beautiful, desirable trees that require annual maintenance. Most often, these trees and vegetation are in the public right-of-way. Rights-of-way can typically be estimated by finding the edge of pavement and measuring back 5 to 7 feet. However, rights-of-way in Belvedere are not standard and can often be much further into property frontage or, in the case of a through lot, rear yards.
When left unmanaged, trees and vegetation in the public right-of-way can become overgrown and cause potential hazards. To avoid this, starting each spring the City Public Works crews prune and trim the public right-of way to manage trees and vegetation.
The State of California Fire Code requires that overhead branches of trees be maintained at a minimum of 13.6 feet vertical clearance over roadways so that fire apparatus can pass in an emergency. City crews take a proactive approach to managing trees overhanging the streets and trim small limbs and branches to a height of 14 feet.
Residents often express concern over privacy issues when they observe City workers pruning and trimming vegetation. City crews are sensitive to these concerns and only prune or trim the necessary branches to provide adequate clearance.
Tree Work Requirements
The following are requirements for any tree work performed in Belvedere:
- Permitted tree work may only take place between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM Monday through Friday.
- Any work taking place on, adjacent to, or abutting City streets and sidewalks requires an Encroachment Permit that must be obtained from the City in advance of the start of work.
- Tree work that requires a Road Closure must be approved by the Public Works Department. Closures on certain streets will also require approval by the Fire District.
- All tree debris must be contained onsite and prevented from entering a body of water or storm drain system.
- Tree debris must be cleaned up daily.
- Slope stability measures must be used on steep hillsides.
- Tree maintenance companies must have a current City of Belvedere Business License.