Summer is finally here, and after a late start, the season may create a need to remove, plant, or prune trees in your yard… but can you? And how much will it cost?
Situations such as new tree growth brushing up against the house or hanging low into the driveway, a cracked limb that hangs over the street or front yard, or a newly planted tree that didn’t make it may cause people to do some tree work around the house.
Citizens of Turlock may need to check with the City prior to altering trees in their yards or check with Turlock Irrigation District (TID) before altering trees near power lines.
According to Municipal Code 7-7-206, it is the duty of every property owner within the City to maintain street trees in the parkway or planting easement on or adjacent to his property. The property owner is always responsible for the care and maintenance of the theme street tree.
Property owners can plant as many trees on their property as they desire, as long as they are not in the City easement.
However, “If they want to plant, remove, or prune a tree in the City easement (park strip), that would require a permit from the City,” explains Turlock Parks and Recreation Manager Allison Van Guilder.
Typically the City easement is usually 5 feet from the back of the sidewalk or 10 feet from the back of the curb where there is no sidewalk.
“It (the City easement) can vary throughout the City because of the different widths of the streets and easements,” states Van Guilder. “We deal with these on a case by case basis.”
Tree permits are free, and requests are typically processed in about one week. Site inspections are conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
If property owners are unclear whether or not their project requires a permit, they are encouraged to call the City for clarification.
Failure to obtain a permit could result in a pricey fine. Van Guilder said that there are multiple enforcement processes, both administrative and judicial, that can be used by the City to gain compliance. The City’s policy is voluntary compliance, but in the event that does not occur, the City uses the Turlock Municipal Code and Government Code to help with the process.
According to the Turlock Municipal Code, any person convicted of a misdemeanor under the provisions of the Code will be punishable by a fine up to $500, imprisonment in County Jail for up to 6 months, or both.
Government Code states that violating a city ordinance is a misdemeanor, unless it is made an infraction. Infractions are punishable for a fine up to $100 for a first violation, a fine up to $200 for a second, and a fine up to $500 for each additional violation within the same year.
Van Guilder additionally said that two primary reasons newly planted trees do not survive are overwatering and not being cautious when weed eating around the base of the tree. Avoiding these practices may help owners to avoid dealing with removing trees.
There are regulations as to what kind of trees a property owner may plant as well, depending on where the property is located within the City of Turlock.
Herb Smart, TID Public Information Specialist, said TID coordinates with the City to manage tree trimming.
TID should be contacted regarding trees or vegetation that come into contact with power lines, as they may cause power outages or fires. According to TID, trees are responsible for the largest number of power outages in California.
They recommend owners to never trim trees near electric lines themselves, and to first call TID as they may be able to alleviate the problem at no cost to the owner.
Smart explained TID’s Tree Trimming Program is approved for patrolling, monitoring and scheduling of tree trimming. This program has significantly reduced the number and duration of outages caused by trees.
Homeowners do not get charged for services. “However, the liability to maintain overhead service wires falls on the customer,” explains Smart.
Smart recommends that customers who receive electricity from overhead wires should examine the overhead service wires that connect to their home or business. If customers see vegetation on the line, or vegetation that could come into contact with the line in stormy weather, they should arrange to remove the conflicting vegetation.
He suggests to proceed in contacting TID to schedule an appointment, as they will de-energize the overhead wires to eliminate electric shock hazard. This is done for free, and the customer can then proceed to remove or trim vegetation.
By law, TID has a responsibility to provide safe and reliable electric service. This includes their right to clear any trees or vegetation that may conflict with power lines.
To avoid conflicts with power lines, TID recommends if individuals are planning to plant trees near power lines, to plant at least ten feet away from the nearest pole. Also, is important to ensure the tree’s full-grown height is at least ten feet below the power line.
Underground lines and equipment should not be forgotten, and trees should be planted at least six feet away from these services.
To contact TID, call: 883-8301.
For individuals planning to plant or landscape, Undergound Service Alert (USA) can be reached to check for underground services. Contact: 1-800-227-2600.