Preservation of Heritage Trees 

Title 4, Chapter 12 of the Pacifica Municipal Code defines “heritage tree” as any tree or trees that meet the following conditions:

  • Any tree on public or private property (excluding eucalyptus) with a diameter of 16-inches (measured at 24-inches above natural grade). 

  • Any tree or grove of trees (including eucalyptus) designated by the Council for special historical, environmental, or aesthetic value.

A permit is required to cut down, destroy, remove, or move a heritage tree, or engage in new construction within the dripline of a heritage tree growing. Typically, the removal of a heritage tree includes conditions of replacement of a minimum 1:1 ratio, although this is not a requirement under the current ordinance. During construction and development, heritage trees that are not approved for removal require a tree protection plan. 

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* 1. Prior to this survey, what was your awareness of Title 4, Chapter 12: Preservation of Heritage Trees of the Pacifica Municipal Code? (select all that apply):

I knew the City had an ordinance to protect heritage trees
I did not know the City had an ordinance to protect heritage trees
I have applied for a permit to remove a heritage tree
I have appealed a permit regarding a heritage tree
I have implemented a tree protection plan for a heritage tree during construction
Other (please specify)
Closed to responses | 153 Responses

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2. The preservation of heritage trees in Pacifica is important because (select all that apply):

Environmental benefits of tree canopy (improvements to air quality, stormwater management, carbon reduction, energy savings, etc.)
I agree with the preservation of heritage trees unless there is an important safety concern with allowing the trees to remain
Socioeconomic benefits of tree canopy (improvements to human health, property values, retail, privacy, etc.
Heritage trees represent and preserve the character of Pacifica
Resilience for the community and quality of life in the face of climate change
Other (please specify)
I do not agree with the preservation of heritage trees
Not sure
Closed to responses | 156 Responses

Heritage Tree Removal Permit Process

The following summarizes the process for a Heritage Tree Removal Permit:

  1. Any person who desires to destroy (e.g., substantial trimming which threatens the healthy growth and development of the tree), move, or remove one or more heritage trees on any private or City-owned property must apply in writing for a permit and pay a permit fee (currently $226, as set by Council Resolution).

  2. Within 14 days after the receipt of an application, the City shall review the application and inspect the tree(s) and issue a proposed decision on the permit. 

  3. Notice of the proposed decision shall be given to adjacent properties, interested parties, and visibly posted on or near the tree, allowing 7-days for the filing of an appeal. 

  4. If an appeal is received, the Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commission will schedule an appeal hearing and provide notice at least 5-days prior to the hearing.

  5. The Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commission will either approve, disapprove, or modify the decision of the City.

  6. The decision of the Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commission may be appealed to the City Council within 7-days of the decision. 

  7. City Council may approve, disapprove, or modify the decision of the Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commission. 

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3. What are your top 3 preferred improvements for the heritage tree removal permit process? (choose up to 3):

More education on when a permit is needed
Clarify criteria for approval or denial of permits
Greater transparency in the notification process
More trees should be classified as heritage trees
More education on how to apply for a permit
Require a permit to perform any pruning on a heritage tree
Too many trees are classified as heritage trees
More time to file appeals
Other (please specify)
Works great!
Less time to file appeals
Closed to responses | 146 Responses

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4. The removal of a heritage tree should require tree replacement (select one):

Yes, number of replacement trees based on the loss of canopy, diameter, or in-lieu fees
Not sure/Need more information
No, tree replacement should not be required
Yes, on a 1:1 ratio or in-lieu fees
Yes, on a 2:1 ratio or in-lieu fees
Other (please specify)
Closed to responses | 152 Responses

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5. What types of education and public outreach regarding this topic do you prefer? (check all that apply):

City social media accounts (Connect with Pacifica, Facebook, Nextdoor, etc.)
Informational brochures
Online videos
Council study session/public meeting
Other (please specify)
Closed to responses | 145 Responses

Chapter 14 Maintenance and Preservation of City Trees

City trees are public trees along streets, medians, parks, and at City facilities. The current ordinance recognizes that City trees are a valued resource and provides guidelines for their management.

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6. Describe your interest/involvement with Pacifica's City trees? (check all that apply):

I appreciate City trees and the benefits they provide to the community
I have planted a tree in the rights-of-way
I have a street tree in front of my house
I have a business that benefits from street trees
I have pruned the street tree in front of my house/business
I have requested that my street tree be trimmed
I have requested that my street tree be removed
I have read an article about the Pacifica Heritage Tree Ordinance update in the City newsletter or the Pacifica Tribune
I have volunteered at a tree planting event, such as Arbor Day
Other (please specify):
Closed to responses

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7. Are City trees adequately managed?

Unsure/Need more information
Closed to responses | 155 Responses

Street Tree Maintenance

The City cares for over 1,769 publicly-owned trees at City facilities, in parks, along City streets, and in open space. The current level of care includes:

  • Limited maintenance for trees in the rights-of-way (prioritized by level of risk)

  • Mitigation of safety hazards

  • Emergency response

  • Service requests for street trees

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8. Indicate your level of satisfaction with the current care of street trees:

Somewhat unsatisfied
Somewhat satisfied
Unsure/Need more information
Completely unsatisfied
Completely satisfied
Closed to responses | 153 Responses

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Feel free to add any other comments you have regarding Pacifica's Urban Forest:

Closed for Comments