Skip to page body Home About Us What's New City Government Departments Living Visiting Doing Business I Want To...

Tree Permit FAQs

Q. Do I need to get a tree permit to remove or trim my tree if it’s on my private property?


A. You do if the tree measures 14” in diameter or greater, measured 4.5 ft from the ground. This makes it a “heritage” tree. You would also need a tree permit for trimming greater than 25% of the tree.

Q. Is there an application fee?

A. Yes, it’s $25.00 for the first tree, $10.00 for each additional tree to be removed.

Q. Do I need a tree permit to remove or prune a street tree in front of my home or business?

A. Yes, you would need to apply for a tree permit for any Street Tree Removal/Replant. There is no fee for Street Tree Removal/replant applications.

Q. What if the tree is an emergency?

A. 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 verifications.

Q. What if the tree isn’t all the way dead yet?

A. You can only apply for a Dead Tree Verification if there isn’t any living green leaves left on the entire tree.

Q. How long does it take to get an approved tree permit?

A. The general turn-around time for heritage tree removal permits is approximately 2-3 weeks from the date they are submitted to our department and all applicable fees and mitigation requirements have been met.

Q. What are mitigation requirements?

A. Mitigation is the last step of the tree application process for your heritage tree removal if you have been given tentative approval of your permit. You have the option of paying a $250.00 bond per tree removal or making a $150 donation to the City’s Tree Trust Fund.

If you choose to pay the $250 bond, you would be required to replant a tree at an appropriate site on your property. After the tree is in the ground for a minimum of 90 days, you would contact the City Urban Forester for inspection of the replanting and your bond money would be refunded to you.

If you choose to make a monetary donation to the City’s Tree Trust Fund, your donation is used to purchase street trees to be planted in the City of Santa Cruz.

Q. When do I get my final tree permit?

A. Once the permit has been given tentative approval, there is a 10-day appeal period in which the tree removal location is posted with a notice. After the 10-day appeal period has passed and no appeals filed, your permit becomes effective. Approved tree permits are valid for 45 days.

Q. What if my neighbor’s tree is overhanging onto my property and/or causing damage or dropping leaves/branches onto my property?

A. Unfortunately, we cannot get involved in private property issues between neighbors. The owner of the property where the tree is located would have to apply for a tree removal permit. If that property owner isn’t willing to do that you may consult with your homeowner’s insurance agent or a private attorney for any liability concerns.