Tree Permit

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A Tree Permit is required to remove or destroy a protected tree, as defined in the Tree Preservation Ordinance. The intent of this review is to evaluate whether the protected tree warrants removal and determine appropriate mitigation.

Is my tree removal subject to a Tree Permit?

A Tree Permit is required if you are removing, destroying, or excessively pruning a protected tree on public or private property. Below is a general list of what qualifies as a protected tree.  Please click here for a complete list of these triggers.

  1. A tree with a trunk diameter of 12" or more, of an indigenous species (such as an oak, bay, buckeye or madrone), and on a developed property.
  2. A tree of any size or species, and designated to be preserved as part of an approved development application (check with a planner).
  3. A tree with a trunk diameter of 6" or more, or one component trunk of a multi-trunked tree with a diameter of 4" or more, and of a native riparian species (such as a maple, boxelder, alder, walnut, cottonwood, willow, oak, bay, buckeye, or elderberry).  
  4. A tree of any species with a diameter of 6" or more, and on an undeveloped property.
  5. A replacement tree planted as restitution for a violation of this chapter.
  6. A native tree of any size or species within a restricted ridgeline area.
  7. A tree of any size or species within a public right-of-way or a private access easement.
  8. A tree of any size or species within a commercial zoning district.
The City will process an expedited Tree Permit to remove a protected tree:
  1. that qualifies as having an imminent threat
  2. under emergency conditions by the City, Fire District, or Building Inspection Department
  3. to maintain defensible space on land covered by flammable material
  4. to maintain an unobstructed flow of water for flood control safety in a creek or other waterways 
  5. to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the community

A Tree Permit is not required:

  1. To remove trees that are not protected (do not meet any of the standards listed above)
  2. To properly prune a protected tree, provided it is performed under the supervision of a certified arborist, removes less than one-fourth (25%) of the functioning leaf, stem, or root area, and minimizes the negative effects on the tree. 

A Tree Permit application must be submitted to the Planning & Building Department for review; this may be done by completing the online Tree Permit application packet and emailing to or in person at the Planning Counter in City Offices. A processing fee must accompany the Tree Permit; this fee covers staff time to evaluate the request which may include a site visit. Emailed applications will require credit card payment of the application fee and may be provided to Planning staff via phone.

The Zoning Administrator will take action on all Category I Tree Permits. If the application is in conjunction with a larger scale project (Category II), the appropriate hearing body will take action. The hearing body, in considering your permit, may impose mitigation planting or an in-lieu fee. The in-lieu fees collected are not penalty fees. They are in place to provide an alternative in situations where planting mitigation trees is not a viable option. The in-lieu fee is used to purchase trees for planting in our downtown, along our trails, and to beautify our community.  A Tree Permit will be approved only if it meets the required findings.

The City adopted Trees for Lafayette, a Master Tree Plan, which is intended to offer design and technical information to assist in decision making.  The Master Plan discusses many different types of streetscapes with examples of street and neighborhood plantings located on a map.  Design guidelines for future tree planting are presented along with lists of trees for specific situations.

Tree protection measures are typically required for projects that have gone through discretionary review,  in order to ensure development projects do not impact existing trees on-site. The City has specific Construction Policies and Guidelines for Tree Protection.

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