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Tree Permits

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Removal, Excessive Pruning and Street Tree Planting Permits

Heritage Trees and Shrubs
Heritage Tree Ordinance

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 Trees 
Street Tree Ordinance 
Recommended Street Tree Planting List

Both Heritage size street 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. The City may provide you with a free street tree from the recommended street tree list, if available.


Heritage/Street Trees and Shrubs Permits
Heritage Tree Permit Application

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 may 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. Please note that there is required tree mitigation (replanting or in-lieu fee per tree) and a required ten (10) day posting period for non-emergency trees and dead tree verification.


Outcomes of Tree Permit 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. Applicant will need to cite the specific provision within the ordinance where the department errored in their determination.

  • The appeal will be put on the next available agenda of the Parks and Recreation Commission for review and consideration.

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 for a fee of $100.00.

If your permit is approved

Applications receiving tentative approval must fulfill a tree mitigation requirement: 

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

  • Applicants may elect to pay an in-lieu fee to the tree trust fund of $150 for off-site mitigation.
    (Contributions to the Tree Trust Fund are used to purchase street trees, trees for projects, etc.)
  • If the $250.00 refundable bond is placed and the tree(s) are replanted, permittee must contact the City Urban Forester, 831-420-5246 after 3 months of establishment to have the $250.00 bond returned.  Once the permit is issued there is a 10-day appeal period as required by ordinance before the permit becomes effective.
  • If no appeal is filed, the permit is valid for 45 days. Aggrieved parties wishing to appeal the approval of a tree permit may submit a tree appeal application and $100 fee to the Parks and Recreation Department.

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