Trees Ordinance Background & FAQs

Protecting Monterey's Trees

Contact Us
Trees/Urban Forestry
Ryan Ranch Corporation Yard
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 646-3860

Steve Morton
Assistant Urban Forester
Tree Ordinance
Beginning in 1991, the City established an ordinance for the preservation of both City and private trees. In 2003, the City Council made some changes to that ordinance. The City regulates the trimming and removal of City trees and requires a permit to remove private trees larger than 6 inches in trunk diameter. Under the new ordinance, the monetary value of trees that are removed and the type and size of the replacement required are more specific. To better protect both City and private trees from damage, the ordinance better defines "excessive pruning" and prohibits such pruning.

Within the 2003 ordinance, there are currently 15 trees that are designated "Local Landmark Tree", which means they are trees of such unusual size, prominence or health that they are of significant value to the community. The ordinance outlines the nomination process for designating a Landmark Tree, including the tree owner’s consent and the approval of the Architectural Review Committee. The City will place a tag on all approved Landmark Trees indicating "Local Landmark Tree – Do Not Trim or Remove without City Approval." See Section 37-12 Local Landmark Trees

The "local landmark tree" category establishes a process for reviewing and recommending trees that should be protected and preserved because of their outstanding size, prominence, and / or health. Setback variations and variance applications will be seriously considered to assist preservation where landmark trees may constrain reasonable development of permitted uses. Existing development on similar sites in the same zone and having similar topographic and vegetation characteristics shall be considered when determining reasonable development on property containing landmark trees.

The intent of the ordinance is to better clarify the role of tree preservation in the community with regard to the replacement of trees on private property and punitive damages for trees that are removed illegally. Our forestry staff currently reviews 350 to 400 requests per year for tree removals on private property, of which the majority are approved with a required replacement. While this ordinance will help to promote, regulate and enforce the preservation of trees, ultimately it is the community that provides the strongest support for preserving our urban forest.
Tree FAQs

1.   Will the City trim my private trees?

No, private property owners are responsible for trimming their own trees and disposing of the debris.

2.   Is the City responsible for trimming the City's trees in front of my house?

Please call the Parks Division at (831) 646-3860 to schedule an inspection.

3.   Do I need a permit to to trim my private trees?

No, reasonable pruning is permitted.

4.   Will the City inspect my private trees?

Only if you wish to remove it. Please complete a tree permit application online or call the Parks Division at (831) 646-3860. 

5.   Who do I call about a tree problem or to have a tree trimmed?

Please call the Parks Division at (831) 646-3860 or email us at morton@monterey.org.

6.   Do I need a permit to remove a tree?

Yes, for any tree that measures 6 inches in diameter or larger and is at least 4 feet, five inches tall. Permits can be obtained by contacting the Parks Division at (831) 646-3860. There is no charge for a permit if the tree is dead, dying or dangerous. Otherwise, there is a permit fee. To apply to have a tree removed, please complete a tree removal permit application.

7.   What are the City policies governing trees on private and public property?

The City has a tree protection ordinance, established in 1991, that is the basis for the City's trees guidelines. The ordinance is outlined in Chapter 37 of the Monterey City Code.