Tree Ordinance

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Private Property

All Residential Zones in Area Districts I and II

Purpose
As part of the City Council Workplan the Community Development Department  reevaluated the City's existing private property tree protection ordinance (Section 10.52.120 MBMC). On March 21, 2006, the City Council adopted Ordinance 2082 approving these amendments after substantial public and Planning Commission review. On March 4, 2009, the City Council approved Ordinance 2121 to further revise protected tree regulations and require tree trimmers permits.

  • Both amendment ordinances, as with the original, apply to large trees within the 20-foot front yard and corner side yard setbacks of residentially zoned property located in Area Districts I and II (refer to Zoning Map)
  • A redlined version of Ordinance 2082 (PDF) is available in pdf file format.
  • Tree Permit Application and Instructions are located under "Planning Division Permits".
  • Information on street trees on public property, in the parkway and public right-of-way is found on the Public Works Department's street tree maintenance page.
  • The City Council report dated March 4, 2009 contains Ordinance 2121 and an outline of those regulation changes.

A summary of the Tree Ordinance is as follows:
Front yard and streetside trees 12" or larger in trunk diameter are protected. Washingtonia palms and deciduous fruit trees, those that lose their leaves in winter, are exempt.

  1. The design of residences needs to consider and accommodate trees.
  2. Abuse, neglect, damage to trees is a violation.
  3. Advisory signs with the tree protection requirements need to be posted.
  4. Grading and paving that disturbs the root system during construction needs approval.
  5. A  security deposit may be required to ensure required replacement trees are planted and/or that existing trees are properly protected prior to permit issuance.
  6. Any new project over 50% valuation needs one new 36” box tree- unless Planning determines there is no room.
  7. Replacement trees must be 36” box minimum- number, location and species subject to Planning approval.
  8. Emergency removal requires prior approval.
  9. Pruning of branches and roots across a property line does not need a permit- but must comply with ANSI A300 pruning standards and cannot damage the health of the tree.
  10. A Property Owner Acknowledgement Form is required to be signed prior to issuance of a permit when protected trees are on a property.
  11. Administrative fines for violations of the regulations are allowed. Fines are placed in a Tree Canopy Restoration Fund to plant new trees throughout the City. Fines can be up to the cost of an equal size replacement tree or the appraised value of the tree, whatever is higher.

For further information, call the Community Development Department at (310) 802-5503 to speak to a planner.

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