Tree ordinance meets protest

11/23/2011

A proposed ordinance that would require property owners adjacent to streams and wetlands to file for permits before removing protected and heritage trees—unless they meet exemptions for disease, fire safety, or potential structural damage—has raised the ire of the San Geronimo Valley Stewards (SGVS), many of whom live in homes dwarfed by heritage redwoods. Marin currently allows for the unpermitted removal of five trees in Stream and Wetland Conservation Areas. The proposed ordinance limits tree removal for property owners in the rest of unincorporated Marin County to two protected trees a year. It also recommends that owners document exemptions through an arborist’s report or photographs. Peggy Sheneman, a member of the SGVS steering committee, said the permitting process will be costly and time intensive. Sheneman would like to see the two-tree allowance apply to streamside properties, and storm emergency and septic system risk exemptions added. “We could live with two trees a year if it’s really an exemption that applies to us,” she said. “Right now, it doesn’t help us.” In the long-term, she envisions an interdisciplinary vegetation and forest management plan that would prevent fires and ensure a replacement generation for dying old-growth redwoods.  “The valley is so over-forested and overgrown. We’re living in a fire chimney,” she said. The SGVS plan to voice their concerns at the December 13 Board of Supervisors meeting.