Do I Need a Tree Removal Permit in Los Angeles County?

In LA County, a permit is required to take down the majority of trees.

If you want to remove trees growing on county public lands such as parks, streets, and recreation centers then you need a permit from the relevant commissioner.

If you have trees on private land but are categorized as protected trees, then you also need to obtain a permit for removal.

Sometimes, you can remove a dead or dying tree, posing a safety risk without getting a permit. You must check with the commissioner for the rules regarding this.

The Los Angeles County has tree ordinances that provide specific guidelines on how to handle trees in the area.

As a result of this, you will need a tree removal permit to remove or trim some trees in Los Angeles County.

In some cases, you can remove trees on your private property without a permit, but most times, a permit must be obtained to cut down a tree legally. When you need Los Angeles, it’s best to contact the county and hire the professionals to do the work for you.

Here you will find a summary of the tree ordinance. Some of the information you will find includes when you should get a permit, which trees are protected, and how to get a permit.

Through the county tree ordinance sheet, you get more details.

Los Angeles Protected Trees

Generally, you won’t need a permit to remove one or more trees on your private property, as they are your responsibility. However, you will need a permit if the tree is on the protected tree list.

Trees of the Southern California native species with a diameter of 4 inches and above measured 41/2 feet from the ground are protected.

These species include the following.

  • Western Sycamore (Platanus racemose)
  • California Bay (Umbellularia californica)
  • Southern California Black Walnut (Juglans California var. California)
  • Oak trees such as the California Live Oak and Valley Oak. This also includes indigenous California Oak Genus trees.

These trees are protected for various reasons, including for aesthetic purposes, shade, sentimentality, environmental and economic reasons. Check with the county to determine if any trees on your property are protected.

Other protected trees include;

  • Heritage trees

These are trees of various sizes and of different species as long as they are identified as heritage based on their commemorative, horticultural, and historical significance.

  • Special Habitat Value trees

Over time, the number of indigenous trees in California has been reducing significantly. As a result, measures have been taken to ensure that such trees are preserved. These are trees of great importance to the ecosystem and are protected.

  • Common Park

These are trees that are mostly found in city parks. As a result, such trees have more importance than the shade they provide.
Such trees can be listed based on sentimental, aesthetic, environmental, and economic value.

Where Can I Get a Tree Removal Permit?

You will need to fill out an application for a tree removal permit with the Bureau of Street Services. Once completed, you can bring the application to the Urban Forestry public counter for review. Only in-person applications are accepted. You cannot mail, email, or fax them. 

Once approved, you can contact a professional to remove the tree. Attempting DIY tree removal without a permit can result in a fine of up to $200 and a jail sentence.

Can I Plant Trees on the City Streets?

Yes. The county and city of Los Angeles allow its residents to plant trees on the streets as long as they have the required permit.

To do this, you have to make sure that you obtain a permit indicating all the details of the type of trees you want to plant and where you will plant them.

At the same time, one has to follow the rules and regulations set in place by the county concerning the planting of trees.

Tree Replacement in Los Angeles

The city and county administration is very strict when it comes to tree removal permits and the replacement of trees. As a result, a permit will not be issued until you agree to replace all the trees you are going to remove with new ones.

Once an applicant agrees to replace the trees, the director of parks and recreation will determine the type and tree quality.

However, in some cases, the replacement condition may be waived by an authorized person for the public’s interest.

Are There Penalties for Illegal Tree Removal?

Yes. Any firm, person, or corporation found guilty of violating the tree ordinance codes will be convicted. The county will impose fines anywhere between $5.00 and $200.00 per offense. However, a jail term of not more than 50 days may also apply or both.

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.