Tree Removal/Pruning Permits


Heritage Tree Permits

If you have a tree on your property that is over 14 inches in diameter (measured 4.5 feet from the ground), which you believe needs to be removed or pruned (by more than 25%), you need a Heritage Tree Permit from the City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department.

This permit ensures tree removals and pruning are evaluated carefully, so our urban forest can be preserved for future generations.


Street Tree Permits 

Both Heritage size trees and all street trees of any size are regulated by the City of Santa Cruz.  All street trees of any size require a permit to remove, plant, or prune 25% or more.

How to Obtain a Tree Permit

Call 831-420-5270 to have a tree permit application sent to you, or stop by the Parks and Recreation Department, 323 Church Street, open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

If the tree removal is an emergency (demanding immediate action to prevent loss of, or damage to life, health or property), submit the Emergency Tree Removal Verification Request. There is no fee for emergency applications or dead tree verification. If an emergency tree removal is warranted and verified, staff will authorize removal immediately.

If the tree removal is not an emergency, complete the tree permit application and return with fees: $50.00 for the first tree and $20.00 for each additional tree. Applications for 3 or more trees require an Arborist report by a City approved ISA Arborist. Within approximately 2-3 weeks of receiving your permit application, Parks and Recreation staff will evaluate your application and recommend approval or non-approval of the permit.


Tree Grant Program

This program has been established to assist City of Santa Cruz property owners with the care and maintenance of Heritage Trees on their property or Street Trees for which the property owner is responsible.  The City will make matching grants up to 50% of the project cost in amounts from $250 up to $5,000 for approved projects.

Tree Grant Program Application

Outcomes of Application

If the City denies your initial application there is an appeal process: 
  • Call 831-420-5270 to request an appeal form or pick one up at the Parks and Recreation Office, 323 Church Street, open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 
  • Complete and return the appeal form with $100.00 fee. 
  • The appeal will be put on the next agenda of the Parks and Recreation Commission for their review and recommendation.

If you wish to appeal the decision of the Parks and Recreation Commission, you may file an appeal with the City Clerk, 809 Center Street, for a decision by City Council.

If your permit is approved: 

Applications receiving tentative approval must fulfill a tree donation requirement: 

Applicants may elect to place a $250.00 bond with the Parks and Recreation Department and replant their own tree OR;

  • Applicants may elect to make a donation to the tree trust funds of $150.
    (Donations to the Tree Trust Fund are used to purchase street trees.)
  • If the $250.00 refundable bond is placed and the trees are replanted, permittee must contact the City Urban Forester, 831-420-5246 after 3 months of replanting to get the $250.00 bond returned. 
  • Once the permit is issued there is a 10-day appeal period before the permit becomes effective.
  • If no appeal is filed, the permit is valid for 45 days. Neighbors wishing to appeal the approval of a tree permit may submit a tree appeal application and $100 fee to the Parks and Recreation Department.

Heritage Tree Ordinance

Heritage Tree Resolutions

Recommended Planting List

Tree FAQs

Pacific Gas and Electric Tree Information:

As a designated Tree City USA, The City of Santa Cruz has a rich and diverse urban forest, but we remain dedicated to educating the public about trees because we view urban and community forestry as an integral part of a healthy environment.  Teaching people to plant and care for trees increases environmental awareness and empowers our citizens as stewards of our community, country, and planet.  Planting a tree is much more than a fun outdoor activity.  It reduces pollution, provides cooling shade on a summer's day, brings neighbors together, increases property values, reduces crime, fosters community cooperation, and provides habitat for local wildlife.


There are many reasons to plant trees.  Knowing why you are planting a tree is just the first step in selecting the right type of tree and its best location.  We are here to be of assistance in making the right choice please contact our (city forester/planning dept..see our approved city tree list. Additionally here are some tips from our tree planting partner and local utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) a designated a Tree Line USA utility by the Arbor Day Foundation since 1995.

This Guide to planting Small Trees near power lines provides some ideas for 'Right Tree Right Place' planting.   (Graphic)  

PG&E offers these tips for (city) to ensure safe, reliable electric service and avoid future conflicts between tree and power lines:

  • Look up!  -- before planting.
  • "Know what's below" -- call 811 at least 48 hours before doing any digging even for planting trees.
  • Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place --  
  • Plant trees no taller than 25 feet at maturity near distribution lines
  • Plant only low growing shrubs near or underneath high voltage transmission lines --
  • Also avoid planting at the base of power poles and in proximity to pad-mounted transformers. 
  • For your safety, never attempt to prune trees near power lines yourself.  Only 'power line qualified' tree clearance contractors are allowed to work within 10 feet of high voltage lines. 

A tree planting brochure from PGE

If you have any further questions, call PG&E for an inspection of your tree and power line situation at 1-800-743-5000. For more information about trees and power lines visit 


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