As already stated above, street trees are owned by the City and cannot be removed without a permit. The City's overarching policy regarding tree removal is that no healthy tree is to be removed in effort to reach our goals described above. This is one of the reasons we have such heavily tree lined streets in some of our neighborhoods currently. For this reason, in most cases, permission will not be granted to remove a healthy tree as we work toward our goals stated above. We ask that you consider your request carefully and weigh the cost of removal and replacement, the time it will take to regrow (decades) and the loss of services that tree provides to the community (clean air, temperature reduction in the summer, better public health, interception of stormwater that reduces instances of flooding and water pollution and more.
That being said, the City receives requests for removal and or replacement for multiple reasons. Examples of these reasons, and the City's policy in each case are as follows:
- "My tree is damaging the sidewalk." See FAQ Number 7.
- "The roots are too high". This was likely caused by years of over-mulching (see mulch volcanoes above) and roots cannot be cut or lowered. This is something we adjust to in city life to ensure we have trees and shade on our streets.
- "The tree is touching my house." Street trees will eventually spread and branches can reach buildings over time. Simple pruning work will remedy this issue. See FAQ Number 3.
- "Wildlife can reach my roof." Urban wildlife has adapted to city life and will find ways into and onto our buildings whether street trees are present or not, often utilizing utility poles and lines, private trees, and climbing the buildings themselves. Removing a healthy tree to avoid wildlife on our buildings will not deter the critters, and could encourage more intrusion if their natural homes are gone.
- "I don't like all the debris (nuts, fruit, leaves) that the street tree drops." Trees are living things constantly evolving. Leaves, seeds, and other bits and pieces of them may drop to the ground throughout the year (and is indeed how we have forests that naturally regrow in wild areas). While debris from trees can seem to be a nuisance, the City recognizes that the greater benefits of the tree to the community often far outweigh any temporary inconvenience. The City is committed to keeping streets safe and performs regular street sweeping and leaf collection to aid in this effort.
- "My street tree species is a nuisance and causing problems."
- Ash. The City is removing ash trees only as they decline. No healthy ash will be proactively removed.
- Callery Pears. This species is now considered invasive, and have shown to have structural issues as they age. While the City is not proactively removing pear trees, we are willing to provide a permit for a homeowner to remove AND REPLACE a pear with a better-suited tree.
- Fruiting Gingkos (females). Gingkos have been around for millions of years - even during the time of the dinosaurs! They are also somewhat unique because there is a male and female version of this tree. Nurseries only sell male trees, as the female trees produce fruit that is often proliferous and has a strong unpleasant odor once crushed on the ground. However, there are a number of gingkos in the city that have either reverted back to females (this is possible believe it or not) or were actually female at the time of planting in error (sex can't be determined by just looking at the tree). If you have a female Gingko that is fruiting, please contact the city to discuss options.
- "My tree is dead/dying/hazardous." A dead, dying or hazardous public tree will be removed by the City to ensure public safety. Please contact us to have the tree evaluated.
- "Tree in front of my business is hiding my sign / business." Trees in our business districts are critical to creating an inviting space to entice consumers to visit frequently. In fact, it has been shown that people will shop longer and spend 11% more in business districts with tree canopy than those without. However, the City will work with you to prune tree limbs away from a building or signage as much as possible without harming the tree.