General Overview

In the City of Santa Cruz, there are two main types of tree removal permits that have to be obtained if one wishes to make modifications to existing trees. While this might seem too restrictive, it’s done in order to maintain the beauty of the area and the health of the local environment. If anyone was allowed to remove trees as he or she pleased, this could have wide-ranging affects in the area, including in terms of ecology, wildlife, flooding, soil preservation, and so forth.

Two Main Types of Tree Permits

Tree Removing permitThere are two main types of tree permits, which are:

  • Heritage Tree Permits;
  • Street Tree Permits.

Heritage Trees are classified by the City of Santa Cruz as being on one’s private property and measuring 14” in diameter or greater, as well as 4.5 feet from the ground. If you wish to remove the tree or prune it by more than 25%, a Heritage Tree Permit must be obtained.

Street Trees are not on private property, but instead, are on public property. Anyone who removes a street tree or wants to prune it by more than 25%, no matter its size, must obtain a Street Tree Permit.

Applying for a Permit

Applying for a PermitThe process of applying for a permit is quite easy. Unfortunately, the application is not available on their website, but you can have an application mailed to you by calling 1-831-420-5270 or by actually going to the Parks and Recreation Department.

The fee for the first tree is $50, with every subsequent tree costing $20. If you need more than three trees removed, you will need to attach an Arborist report, which has to be conducted by a City of Santa Cruz approved ISA Arborist. You can find that list here:

For any emergency tree removals, an Emergency Tree Removal Verification Request can be submitted. An “emergency,” according to the City of Santa Cruz, is one in which there has to be “immediate action to prevent loss of, or damage to life, health or property.”


The good thing is that an emergency tree removal permit doesn’t have a fee associated with it. If approved, the tree removal will be authorized immediately.

Getting Approved

Once submitted and received by the Parks and Recreation staff, each application takes approximately 2 to 3 weeks before a decision is made to approve it or not to approve it. If, for some reason, you application was denied, you can appeal it for a $100 fee.

If your permit has been given tentative approval, then you have two options as part of the Tree Grant Program, which are:

  • To pay a $250.00 bond per tree removal;
  • To make a $150 donation to the City of Santa Cruz’s Tree Trust Fund.

approvalIf you choose to pay the bond, you have to replant a tree at another site on your property, and once it’s been planted for at least 90 days, you can get your bond refunded. Any donations that have been made are used by the City of Santa Cruz to plant new street trees.

Finally, once given a tentative approval, there will be a 10-day appeal period in which a notice will be placed on the tree or trees. If no one brings forth an appeal, then you will be granted your full, actionable permit.

For more information on obtaining a tree removal permit, you can visit the City of Santa Cruz’s Parks and Recreation website, located at Good luck, and remember to always keep the