In This Section
Under the updated ordinance, the following types of trees would be protected:
*denotes trees that are currently protected in the Palo Alto Municipal Code
A tree permit must be issued by Urban Forestry to legally remove a protected tree. The tree must meet certain conditions to qualify for removal. All permit applications must include a report by a certified arborist that demonstrates how a tree meets these conditions and that treatments or corrective practices are not feasible. Under the existing ordinance the conditions that may prompt removal on residential lots are as follows. Additions in the proposed ordinance are shown in italics below.
No. A permit for pruning your own protected trees will not be required.
However, there are new notification requirements for protected tree maintenance. You will need to notify the City by filling out a simple online form and notify neighbors by posting a notice on the tree or in the front yard visible to passersby about the pruning in advance of the work. Minor maintenance such as removing dead or broken branches will not require notice.
It is suggested that the neighbor be notified, and that some resolution be agreed upon. The updated ordinance includes damage to a neighboring primary residence as a qualifying reason for removal. The removal application still must be submitted by the tree owner, not the neighbor.
Damage to things other than a primary residence, such as lifted or cracked patios or walkways, damaged fences, broken sprinklers, or cracked pools do not qualify as a reason for removal. This applies to both protected trees in your yard or in a neighboring yard.
Please note that the City does not enter into any dispute between neighbors on this matter.
The Palo Alto Municipal Code fire code regulations take precedence over the tree code in the WUI area. Future ordinance updates may contain a separate set of tree protection guidelines specifically for properties in the WUI area.
Under the updated ordinance, when hiring an arborist for any report that will be submitted to the City, you must choose from a designated list of arborists. These arborists will be added to the list after a review by the Urban Forester to ensure that their work meets arboricultural standards. For certain types of projects that require a review hearing, the designated arborist may be selected by the City.
The ordinance is scheduled to go to the City Council in June 2022. Depending on what action the Council chooses, the ordinance could go into effect summer 2022.
Last updated on April 05, 2022