Do I need a permit to remove or trim a tree on my property?
Los Angeles County has ordinances in place that require property owners to get a permit before removing or trimming certain types of trees. The Western Sycamore, California Bay, Southern California Black Walnut and California Live/Valley Oak trees are all native species protected by law. If you are thinking about trimming or removing any of these types of trees, make sure you check with the city first! Additionally, there are certified “Tree Experts” you will need to hire to ensure you are not violating the codes set forth by the County.
How much are the fines for removing or trimming a protected tree without permission?
Not only can the fines be very hefty, but in the event you are building or renovating your home, permits can be revoked and cause major delays to construction. There was a famous case in the city of Glendale where the homeowners were instructed by the Fire Department to clear foliage. After hiring a tree trimmer for $3000, who assured them no permits were necessary, the city ordered a cease and desist when they discovered the homeowners were trimming a protected species. This resulted in a $347,000 fine!
What if the tree in question is on the parkway between the sidewalk and street in front of your home?
It is safe to say that you should always check with the city before trimming and removing a tree on your parkway. If you do get a permit, they will most likely require that you replace the tree with a new one. The city often has a list of pre-approved species and the type of tree and its quality is a factor when determining if it is an appropriate replacement.
What is the City Plants aka the Free Trees Program?
Did you know that in an effort to create more shade and address the low tree canopy cover throughout the city, Los Angeles residents can each request up to 7 free shade trees to be delivered to their homes. The program is focused on increasing clean air, energy efficiency, better health, cooling shade, and friendlier, more vibrant communities through increasing the planting of trees in private and public spaces. Visit the City Plants website to find out how to get your free trees and what types may be most suitable for your area.
If you are considering removing, planting or trimming trees on your property, it is always best to consult with an arborist to ensure there will be no unforeseen complications with the city. Please feel free to contact us for a referral. We’d be happy to recommend a local Tree Expert to help protect and guide you through the process. You can access the city's county tree ordinance sheet for more details and find more information about when you should get a permit, which trees are protected, and how to get a permit.