Public Hearing: Protected Tree Code Amendment

toyon-berries.jpg

Friday, January 20, 2017
10am – noon

Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring Street, Room 1050
Los Angeles, CA 90012

PROPOSED PROJECT: An Ordinance amending provisions of Chapter I Article 7 and Chapter IV Article 6 of the Los Angles Municipal Code (LAMC) to expand the definition of “Protected Tree” to include the Mexican Elderberry (Sambucus Mexicana) and Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia).

PURPOSE: The purpose of the hearing is to obtain testimony from affected and/or interested persons regarding this project. The hearing will be conducted by a Hearing Officer who will consider oral testimony and any written communication received regarding this proposed Code amendment, as well as the merits of the draft ordinance as it relates to existing land use regulations. After the hearing, a recommendation report will be prepared for consideration by the City Planning Commission at a later date.

What would the proposed Protected Tree Code Amendment do?
The Protected Tree Code amendment proposes to expand the definition of Protected Tree to include the Mexican Elderberry (Sambucus Mexicana) and Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) shrubs. The number of protected native trees would increase from four to six. 

The proposed Code amendment would broaden the range of trees subject to the Protected Tree regulations, but would not modify any of the regulations themselves.

Please see the attached draft ordinance to review the language of the proposed Code amendment.

Why expand the number of Protected Trees?
There are currently only four trees classified as Protected Trees. When a protected tree is removed, it must be replaced with a tree from the list of protected trees, unless the Bureau of Public Works grants permission for an alternate tree to be planted. In recent years, more and more of the protected trees, especially Oaks and Western Sycamores, have been infested with diseases that sicken the trees and lead to devastation, especially when there is a monoculture (large numbers of the same tree located in close proximity to each other).

Species diversity is key to preventing monocultures and to protecting the health of trees. An expanded protected tree list is needed to widen the palate for replacement trees and to help promote tree health and resiliency. The expanded list will also allow for fewer deviations from the list and potentially lessen review by the Bureau of Public Works for the planting of alternate trees.

Why are the Mexican Elderberry and Toyon proposed to become Protected Trees?
The Mexican Elderberry and Toyon have been proposed to be classified as Protected Trees because they are native species, they promote native wildlife and habitats, they can grow to a variety of sizes, and they are species that are important to the history and identity of Los Angeles.

The Mexican Elderberry and Toyon are native to California and require very little water. Both species produce berries, attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife, and are important to maintaining natural habitats. When one of these trees is removed, the impacts go far beyond aesthetics and effect entire ecosystems. Additionally, the Toyon tree is said to have inspired the name for Hollywood and is the official City Native Plant.

How would this Code amendment affect my property or my project?
The Code amendment would expand the definition of Protected Tree to include the Mexican Elderberry and Toyon, and the trees would then be subject to the Protected Tree provisions of the Code. Mexican Elderberry or Toyon trees proposed for relocation or removal after the effective date of the Code amendment would be subject to the Protected Tree provisions of the Code.

Please submit comments to: Shannon Ryan at [email protected], (213) 978-3304. In order to be considered in the report to the City Planning Commission, comments should be received by January 31, 2017. Comments received after January 31, 2017 should be addressed to the City Planning Commission at [email protected] for its consideration.

http://planning.lacity.org/documents/codeStudies/ProtectedTreeCA.pdf