Always call before you dig, it’s the law!
Trees are important to the local environment as they conserve energy, provide habitat for wildlife, produce oxygen, and add beauty to our neighborhoods. They benefit individual properties, neighborhoods, and the City as a whole. In an effort to protect the environment, the City regulates: (1) trees of a specific size (trunk circumference) and species, known as Heritage trees, (2) all trees located in planned developments (typically with HOA's), multi-family complexes, and commercial/industrial properties, and (3) trees located in the public right-of-way along streets, known as Street Trees, in parks, and other city-owned properties. The removal of any of these regulated trees requires a permit and, in many cases, the planting of new trees. Any unlawful removal or harm (excessive pruning or topping) of a regulated tree can result in fines and require planting of a new tree.
A “Heritage Tree” is defined as any tree with the following characteristics:
For the complete Heritage Tree Ordinance, see Chapter 32 (Urban Forestry) of the City Code.
Any heritage tree(s) proposed for removal require(s) a permit either by the Parks Division or Planning Division, depending on the type of property and scope of work:
For heritage tree removals located at a single-family home in the R1, R2 or R3 zoning district, please contact the Parks Division at (650) 903-6273 or visit their Heritage Tree application page to apply for a Heritage Tree Removal permit.
All Other Properties
For heritage tree removals proposed at any of the following listed property types, please see instructions further below to identify which City Department you will need to submit an application to based on the scope of work:
Three (3) or Fewer Heritage Tree Removals: If the scope of work includes removal of up to three (3) Heritage trees only, with no other building or site construction activity subject to a development permit with the Planning Division, then please contact the Parks Division at (650) 903-6273 or visit their Heritage Tree application page to apply for a Heritage Tree Removal Permit.
Four (4) or More Heritage Tree Removals or Any Number of Heritage Tree Removals with a Development Permit: If the scope of work includes removal of four (4) or more Heritage trees, then a development permit and Heritage Tree Removal Permit are required from the Planning Division. Alternatively, if any number of Heritage trees are proposed to be removed in combination with any building or site construction activity that is subject to development permit from the Planning Division, then permits are required from the Planning Division, including a Heritage Tree Removal Permit. In either scope of work, an Administrative Zoning public hearing is required and no trees can be removed until after the permit has been approved and the 10-day appeal period has ended. Please contact the Planning Division for questions at (650) 903-6306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Park Division's Heritage Tree Removal Applications: For tree removals at a single-family home property or all other properties with up to three (3) heritage tree removals (and no other site or building construction work), please submit an application to the Parks Division at 231 N. Whisman Road (City's Municipal Operations Center) or contact by phone at (650) 903-6273.
Planning Division's Heritage Tree Removal Applications: For tree removals of four (4) or more at all other properties and tree removals proposed in combination with other site or building construction, please submit the following application materials at 500 Castro Street, Community Development Department (City Hall) or electronically following the instructions on our Planning webpage:
Please send questions by email to email@example.com or by phone at (650) 903-6306.
Aside from trees, general landscaping improvements on private property are regulated by the City in the following manner:
In 2010, the City adopted Water Conversation in Landscaping Regulations in an effort to encourage smartly-designed landscaping that reduces water consumption. These regulations were subsequently updated in 2016 and apply to the following projects:
For vehicle, pedestrian and bicyclists safety, the city regulates the height of landscaping along corner properties at street intersections. The regulated area, known as the triangle of visibility, is defined as a triangle measuring 35 feet from two intersecting property lines as shown in the graphic below:
(Click here to view larger image)
Within this triangle, landscaping must be 3’ or less in height or 6’ and greater in height, resulting in clear visibility between 3’ to 6’ in height for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to see oncoming traffic.
Trees located on private property at single-family homes without Home Owners Associations (HOAs) in the R1, R2 and R3 zoning districts and which are not classified as heritage or street trees are not regulated by the City and can be removed, trimmed, and planted at the discretion of the property owner without permits.
Trees located on private property at residential complexes with or without Home Owner Associations (HOAs) - i.e. townhomes, rowhomes, apartments, condos, planned unit developments, and single-family homes with HOAs - and at commercial and industrial properties are regulated by the Planning Division and require a Planning permit to be removed or planted. This includes all trees which are not defined as Heritage or Street Trees. Any tree removal or new planting is a modification to the original landscape plan approved for the building/site, which must be reviewed and approved by the Planning Division to ensure consistency and appropriateness. For questions, contact the Planning Division at (650) 903-6306.
The City has created helpful handouts to assist homeowners/residents in planting new trees:
Street trees are pruned by the City’s Forestry Division based on the trees growth rate and ANSI pruning standards. The trees may also be trimmed by the City for building, utility line, vehicle, and pedestrian clearance.
Street trees belong to the property owner. However, the City assists in maintenance of the trees in the form of regular pruning. It is the property owner’s responsibility to water, feed, and provide general care to maintain the overall health of the tree. Should you wish to remove, plant, or trim a street tree, please contact the Forestry Division at (650) 903-6326.
For consistency, every street in the City has a designated street tree species. To plant a new street tree or for any questions, please visit the Forestry Division's Trees page.
Resources on water-efficient landscaping, trees and smart irrigation design for Mountain View’s local “Mediterranean” climate are available online:
If you need assistance in communicating with your neighbor regarding a tree, you can contact Mountain View Mediation Services. These services are provided by Project Sentinel confidentially and free of charge. Mountain View Mediation Services can be reached by phone at (650) 960-0495 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.