Whether or not you need a permit to remove a tree in Contra Costa County depends on what kind of tree it is, how large it is, and where the tree is planted. Contra Costa County provides for the preservation of certain protected trees in unincorporated areas and individual cities/towns by controlling tree removal. They allow for reasonable enjoyment of private property rights and property development for the following reasons:
- The county finds it necessary to preserve trees on private property in the interest of the public health, safety, welfare, scenic beauty.
- Trees provide soil stability, improve drainage, provide habitat for wildlife, provide aesthetic beauty and privacy screening.
- Trees are vital part of a visually pleasing, healthy environment.
If the tree you wish to remove is a protected tree in Contra Costa County you will need to apply for a permit. You will need an arborist report that identifies the tree as a protected tree in CCC and does in fact warrant an application for a removal permit.
I have listed below some simple guidelines to help you determine if the tree you wish to remove is a protected tree in CCC (these are general terms) and reasons that may warrant the removal of a protected tree. Please note that the rules change for each city, town or unincorporated area within CCC.
- Is the diameter larger than 6 1/2 inches? First measure the diameter of the tree trunk about 4.5 feet from the ground.Just hold up a ruler or a yardstick against the trunk and eyeball the distance.
- Is the tree next to a creek (waterway), open area park land, park trail, open space, foothill or woodland open area? Is the tree in a grove of 4 or more trees? Residential or commercial property?
- Is the tree a native tree species in Contra Costa County? Click on link of CCC native species to view tree info.
White Alder Madrone Toyon California Black Walnut California Juniper Tanoak Knobcone Pine Digger Pine California Sycamore Fremont Cottonwood Black Cottonwood Coast Oak Canyon Live Oak Blue Oak Black Oak Valley Oak Interior Live Oak Yellow Willow Red Willow Arroyo Willow Coast Red Elderberry Coast Redwood California Bay
Some trees that are not protected in CCC are for example: Monterey Pine, Eucalyptus, Mulberry, Acacia, Cedar, (non native species) etc. Please note that in some cities/towns a tree will be protected because of the size or location that is irrelevant to the species.
OK, so now you have determined the trunk diameter, the tree location and if the tree is a native species. Here are some factors used for granting or denying a tree removal permit:
Note:(816-6.8002 Permit requirement) Any person proposing to trench, grade or fill within the dripline of any protected tree or cut down, destroy, trim by topping or to remove any protected tree shall apply to the department for a tree permit, not less than ten days prior to the proposed tree removal or tree alterations.
For Approval to Remove the Tree
- The arborist report indicates that the tree is in poor health and cannot be saved.
- The tree is a public nuisance and is causing damage to public utilities or streets and sidewalks that cannot be mitigated by some other means (such as root barriers etc.).
- The tree is in danger of falling and cannot be saved by some other means (such as pruning).
- The tree is damaging existing private improvements on the lot such as a building foundation, walls, patios, decks, roofs, retaining walls, etc.
- The tree is a species known to be highly combustible and is determined to be a fire hazard.
- The proposed tree species or the form of the tree does not merit saving (i.e. a tree stunted in growth , poorly formed, etc.).
- Reasonable development of the property would require the alteration or removal of the tree and this development could not be reasonably accommodated on another area to the lot.
- The tree is a species known to develop weakness that affect the health of the tree or the safety of people and property. These species characteristics include but are not limited to short lived, weak wooded and subject to limb breakage, shallow rooted and subject to toppling.
- The applicant seeks permission for the alteration or removal of a healthy tree that can be avoided by reasonable redesign of the site plan prior to project approval (for nondiscretionary permits).
- It is reasonably likely that alteration or removal of the tree will cause problems with drainage, erosion control, land stability, windscreen, visual screening, and/or privacy and said problems cannot be mitigated as part of the proposed removal of the tree.
- The tree to be removed is a member of a group of trees in which each tree is dependent upon the others for survival.
- The value of the tree to the neighborhood in terms of visual effect, wind screening, privacy and neighboring vegetation is greater than the hardship to the owner.
- If the permit involves trenching or grading and there are other reasonable alternatives including and alternate route, use of retaining walls, use of pier and grade beam foundations and /or relocating site improvements.
- Any other reasonable and relevant factors specified by the director.
Links to Tree Removal Permit requirements for Contra Costa County
Remember this is only a guideline and that individual cities/towns within CCC may have different governing specifications regarding the application for a tree removal permit. Give your city/town government agency a call first. Tell them what kind of tree it is, the trunk diameter and the location. They appreciate your concerns and will be glad to help!
- El Sobrante Tree Removal Permit: (925) 674-7205
- Pinole Tree Removal Permit: (510) 724-8912
- Hercules Tree Removal Permit: (510) 799-8200
- Rodeo Tree Removal Permit (925) 229-5950
- Crockett Tree Removal Permit (Use Contra Costa County Tree Preservation Ordinance)
- San Pablo Tree Removal Permit (510) 215-3000
- Richmond Tree Removal Permit (510) 231-3004
- El Cerrito Tree Removal Permit (510) 215-4300
- Martinez Tree Removal Permit 925-372-3500
- Concord Tree Removal Permit 925-671-CITY
- Orinda Tree Removal Permit (925) 253-4200
- Pleasant Hill Tree Removal Permit (925) 671-5209
- Walnut Creek Tree Removal Permit (925) 943-5800
- Lafayette Tree Removal Permit (925) 284-1976
- Moraga Tree Removal Permit (925) 888-7040
- Alamo Tree Removal Permit (Use Contra Costa County Tree Preservation Ordinance)
- Danville Tree Removal Permit (925) 314-3310
- San Ramon Tree Removal Permit (925) 973-2500
- Clayton Tree Removal Permit (925) 673-7300
- Antioch Tree Removal Permit (925)779-6950
- Pittsburg Tree Removal Permit (925) 252-4910
- Albany Tree Removal Permit (510) 559-4275
- Kensington Tree Removal Permit (925) 335-1210
- Berkeley Tree Removal Permit (510) 981-6660
- Emeryville Tree Removal Permit (510) 596-4300
- Oakland Tree Removal Permit (510) 615-5566
- Dublin Tree Removal Permit (925) 833-6630
- Livermore Tree Removal Permit (925) 960-4000
- Pleasanton Tree Removal Permit 925-931-5600
- San Leandro Tree Removal Permit (510) 577-3200
- Castro Valley Tree Removal Permit (510) 670-5480
- Hayward Tree Removal Permit 510-583-4000