Heritage tree replacement requirements

The overall goal of the heritage tree ordinance’s replacement requirement is to ensure continued canopy cover is maintained or increased. Ideally, the replacement tree(s) should:

  1. Replace the removed canopy cover in a period of approximately 15 to 20 years
  2. Reach a mature height of at least 35 feet
  3. Be a California native

For every heritage tree proposed for removal, it must be replaced according to the city’s replacement tree requirements. If the property does not have enough space to plant a replacement tree, the applicant may pay an in-lieu fee. 

The replacement tree species should include the following key components: 

  1. Low to moderate water use, as defined by Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS IV)
  2. Potential to reach a mature height of at least 35 feet, as defined by SelecTree, a tree selection guide
  3. A hardiness appropriate for planning in USDA zones 9 and 10 as defined by SelecTree
  4. Not an invasive or low desirability species as listed in Criterion 4: Species in the above section

Below are some examples of replacement tree species that meet the criteria listed above.

When designing a landscape plan or written replacement tree plan, the appropriate tree spacing is based on the following recommendations:

  • At least 25 feet between each heritage replacement tree and each existing shade tree (species maximum height ≥ 35 feet)
  • At least 15 feet between each existing ornamental tree (species maximum height ≤ 35 feet)
  • At least 10 feet away from any structures (for example: habitable buildings, accessory dwelling unit, garages, sheds, walls or fences)

Nondevelopment-related tree replacements 

If the primary removal reason is either Criterion 1: Death, 2: Tree risk rating, 3: Tree health rating, or 4: Species, the in-lieu value of a replacement tree correlates with the size of the heritage tree trunk diameter (measured from 54 inches above grade).

For every heritage tree proposed for removal, it must be replaced by the following replacement tree requirement as outlined in the table below. For example, any heritage tree with a trunk diameter of greater than 15 inches to 20 inches has a minimum replacement tree requirement of one (1) #15 container. If the property does not have enough space to plant a replacement tree, the applicant may pay an in-lieu fee of $200.

Trunk diameter Replacement requirement In-lieu value
10 to 15 inches (only applies to oak) One #5 container $100
Greater than 15 to 20 inches One #15 container $200
Greater than 20 to 30 inches One 24-inch tree box $400
Greater than 30 to 40 inches One 36-inch tree box $1,200
Greater than 40 to 50 inches One 48-inch tree box $5,000
Greater than 50 inches One 60-inch tree box $7,000

In the heritage tree removal acknowledgement form, please complete the replacement tree plan, which should include (a) the new planting location, (b) the replacement tree species, (c) the container size, and (d) an in lieu fee payment, if applicable.

Development-related tree replacements

If the removal reason is either Criterion 5: Development or Criterion 6: Utility Inference, applicants may use the following in-lieu value of the replacement trees to help design their landscape plans for development-related removals:

  • One #5 container – $100
  • One #15 container – $200
  • One 24-inch tree box – $400
  • One 36-inch tree box – $1,200
  • One 48-inch tree box – $5,000
  • One 60-inch tree box – $7,000

To be eligible for the in lieu fee, applicants must explain why the value of the replacement trees are not equal to the appraised value of the removed heritage trees.

Replacement tree species

Below are some examples of acceptable tree replacement species. Under Municipal Code Section 13.24.090(1), an approved replacement tree list is not provided as site conditions are unknown and will vary from each property. A specified list also limits species diversity. It is recommended that assistance of a certified arborist be sought before selecting a tree and planting location. You may also visit Selectree to help choose an appropriate tree for your property.

Deciduous trees (lose their leaves in winter)

  • Accolade elm (Ulmus ‘Morton’)
  • Black oak (Quercus kellogii)
  • Black walnut (Juglans hindsii)
  • Blue oak (Quercus douglasii)
  • lifornia sycamore (Platanus racemose)
  • Chinese flame (Koelreuteria bipinnata)
  • Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
  • Chinese tallow (Triadica sebiferum)
  • Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii)
  • Forest green oak/Hungarian oak (Quercus frainetto 'Forest Green')
  • Frontier elm (Ulmus carpinfolia x parvifolia ‘Frontier’)
  • Japanese pagoda (Styphnolobium japonicum)
  • Kentucky coffee (Gymnocladus dioicus 'Espresso', 'Prairie Titan')
  • Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
  • Rotundiloba sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua 'Rotundiloba')
  • Shademaster locust (Gleditsia triancanthos var. inermis ‘Shademaster’)
  • Silver linden (Tilia tomentosa)
  • Texas red oak (Quercus buckleyi)
  • Valley oak (Quercus lobata)
  • Western catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Evergreen trees (retain their leaves in the winter)

  • African fern pine (Afrocarpus gracilior)
  • Arizona cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica)
  • Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
  • Avocado tree (Persea Americana)
  • Brisbane box (Lophostemon confertus)
  • Cajeput tree (Melaluca quinquenervia)
  • California bay laurel (Umbellaria californica)
  • Camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Canary island pine (Pinus canariensis)
  • Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua)
  • Catalina ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus)
  • Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)
  • Cork oak (Quercus suber)
  • Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara)
  • Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)
  • Island oak (Quercus tomentella)
  • Lemon-scented gum (Corymbia citriodora)
  • Peruvian pepper (Schinus molle)
  • Red flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia)
  • Saratoga laurel (Laurus nobilis 'Saratoga')
  • Silk oak (Grevillea robusta)
  • Silver leaf oak (Quercus hypoleucoides)
  • Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata)
  • Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana)