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TREE Permits & Ordinances

When is a TREE Permit Needed?

A permit is required to perform regulated work on “City Trees” or “Private Protected Trees” (which includes trees formerly referred to as “Heritage Trees”). City trees are characterized as trees partially or completely located in a City park, on City owned property, or on a public right-of-way, including any street, road, sidewalk, park strip, mow strip or alley. Private protected trees are defined as trees designated to have special historical value, special environmental value, or significant community benefit, and is located on private property. Private protected trees are:

  • All native trees at 12 inch DSH*. Native trees include: Coast, Interior, Valley and Blue Oaks, CA Sycamore and Buckeye.
  • All trees at 32 inch DSH with an existing single family or duplex dwelling.
  • All trees at 24 inch DSH on undeveloped land or any other type of property such as commercial, industrial, and apartments.

* DSH = Diameter Standard Height. Learn how to measure a tree’s DSH.

Approved permits are required before work can be performed.  If you plan to perform work on a City or private protected tree, download the Tree Permit Application (pdf). Once received by the Urban Forestry office, permit applications are generally processed within ten (10) business daysThis time frame can vary based on the nature of the request and volume of requests received at any given time.  

Selecting a Tree Care Professional

The City performs regulated work on City trees only. Tree maintenance for private trees should be provided by trained tree care professionals. When choosing a tree care professional, the following should be considered:

  • Membership with a professional organization such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or the Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA)
  • Certification through the ISA’s Certified Arborist or Tree Worker programs
  • Competitive pricing (three bids)
  • Proof of Insurance
  • List of references

Sacramento City Ordinances

**Sacramento City Code 12.56 was amended and adopted by Sacramento City Council on August 4, 2016. The new tree ordinance amends section 2.62.030 & 8.04.100, and deletes chapter 12.60 & 12.64 of the Sacramento City Code, related to trees.


With a few exceptions, chapter 17.612.040 requires that trees be planted and maintained in order to provide a minimum of 50% shade over a parking lot. Planting, soil volumes and maintenance must comply with the City’s Parking Lot Shading Design and Maintenance Guidelines (pdf).