Trees

Saratoga is primarily a residential community where the economic values of properties are closely tied to the rural attractiveness of the city, much of which is attributable to the trees. The intent of the City's Tree Regulations is to provide a sustainable urban forest and to balance the rights of property owners with basic standards for the maintenance, removal, and replacement of trees.

Protected Trees

  • All trees are protected, regardless of species, if they have a trunk diameter of 10 inches or more (31 inches in circumference measured from 4.5 feet above the ground).
  • Additionally, the following native trees are also protected if they have a diameter of 6 inches or more (or 19-inch circumference or more measured at 4.5 feet above ground):
    • Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
    • Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii)
    • Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii)
    • California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)
    • Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)
    • Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
    • Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
    • Scrub Oak (Quercus dumosa)
    • Tan Oak (Lithocarpus desniflorus)
    • Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) 

Tree Removal & Pruning Permits

A permit is needed before a protected tree can be removed. A permit is also required to prune more than 25% of a protected tree's canopy, or when the pruning does not follow the International Society of Arboriculture pruning guidelines. Tree preservation plans and an arborist report are needed before any construction work is performed near protected trees. 

You can apply for a permit online, or you can print and submit the application and processing fee (see fee schedule) in person or by mail to the City of Saratoga Community Development Department, 13777 Fruitvale Avenue. More than one tree can be included on one application.

While a permit is still required, the fee is waived for applications to remove dead or fallen trees. Complete the tree removal permit application for dead/fallen tree removals and provide photos documenting the condition of the tree(s).

After submitting the application, the City Arborist will visit the site for a field inspection. If the request is permitted, the City will send a written notice to all homeowners within 150 feet of the property. Neighbors are given 15 calendar days to appeal the staff determination. For emergency situations, the notification requirement may be waived to allow immediate removal of the tree.

Verifying a Permit

You can check to see if a tree removal permit has been obtained for a particular property. When making a selection, search under "Projects." To report a tree being illegally removed, please call the Sheriff's Office at 408.299.3233.

Appeals

Both the applicant and members of the public may appeal a decision on a Tree Permit. The Appeal application (PDF) and fee must be received within 15 days of the City's decision on the application. After the appeal application has been submitted, it will go before the Planning Commission for consideration.

Arborist Reports & Tree Protection Plans

Construction projects that occur near protected trees require a tree preservation plan and an arborist report:

Tree Care Resources