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When is a "Significant Tree Removal Permit" Required to Remove a Tree

A permit is required when the tree(s) identified for removal are located in the County’s Coastal Zone and meet the criteria listed in the bulleted items below. An additional situation in which a permit is required would be in an area considered "Sensitive Habitat" (refer to last bullet, below).

Per County Code section 16.34.030, a "significant tree" shall include any tree, sprout clump, or group of trees, as follows:

  • Within the Urban Services Line or Rural Services Line, any tree which is equal to or greater than 20 inches d.b.h. (approximately 5 feet in circumference); any sprout clump of five or more stems each of which is greater than 12 inches d.b.h. (approximately 3 feet in circumference); or any group consisting of five of more trees on one parcel, each of which is greater than 12 inches d.b.h. (approximately 3 feet in circumference).
  • Outside the Urban Services Line or Rural Services line, where visible from a scenic road, any beach, or within a designated scenic resource area, any tree which is equal to or greater than 40 inches d.b.h. (approximately 10 feet in circumference); any sprout clump of five or more stems, each of which is greater than 20 inches d.b.h. (approximately 5 feet in circumference); or, any group consisting of ten or more trees on one parcel, each greater than 20 inches d.b.h. (approximately 5 feet in circumference).
  • Any tree located in a sensitive habitat as defined in Chapter 16.32. Also see Section 16.34.090(c), exemption of projects with other permits.

To determine if your property is located in the Coastal Zone, you can use the County GIS map tool. Once in the GIS, enter your parcel number in "Box 2", click "Find it", then in the Parcel Info window that opens up at the bottom of the screen, click the "Land Use" tab and scroll down to see if your parcel is in the Coastal Zone.

Please note that when Planning staff reviews an application for a significant tree removal, staff uses a form found here to review the application and arborist's report. Applicant's and arborists should familiarize themselves with this form as addtional information will be requested if the application and arborist report don't include the information on the form.

For help finding your parcel number, click here.

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