Trees and Landscaping
500 Castro Street, 1st Floor
Mountain View, CA 94041
Monday – Friday: 8 AM to 4 PM
Municipal Operations Center
231 N Whisman Rd
Mountain View, CA 94039
Monday – Friday: 8 AM to 4 PM
Always call before you dig, it’s the law!
811 or 1-800-227-2600
Call two working days before you dig so utility lines can be marked.
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:
- A tree trunk with a circumference of forty-eight inches (48") or more measured at fifty-four inches (54") above natural grade. Multi-trunk trees are measured just below the first major trunk fork; or
- Three species of trees: Quercus (oak), Sequoia (redwood) or Cedrus (cedar) with a circumference of twelve inches (12") measured at fifty-four inches (54") above natural grade; or
- A grove(s) of trees designated as “heritage” by the City Council.
For the complete Heritage Tree Ordinance, see Chapter 32 (Urban Forestry) of the City Code.
- Heritage Tree Removal(s)
Any heritage tree(s) proposed for removal requires a permit through either the Parks Division or Planning Division, depending on the type of property:
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) 903-6326 or visit their Heritage Tree application page.
All Other Properties
For heritage tree removals located on any of the following properties, please submit an application to the Planning Division:
- A multi-unit development with or without a Home Owners Association (HOA), such as a small-lot single-family home, townhome, rowhome, condominium, or apartment;
- Any property within a Precise Plan area or Planned Unit Development (PUD) with or without an HOA; or
- Any commercial or industrial properties;
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.
- Application for Removal
For single-family properties, please submit an application to the Parks Division at 231 N. Whisman Road (City's Municipal Operations Center).
For all other properties, please submit the following application materials to the Planning Division at 500 Castro Street, Community Development Department (City Hall):
- A completed application form;
- An arborist report (with photos) of all trees proposed for removal, their current health, reason for removal, and suggested tree replacement species and locations on site. This report must be prepared by a certified arborist;
- A site plan, showing all trees proposed for removal, and a replanting plan, showing all new trees to be planted; and
- A fee of $526 made payable to the City of Mountain View.
Aside from trees, general landscaping improvements on private property are regulated by the City in the following manner:
- Single-Family homes in the R1, R2 and R3 Districts without a Home Owners Association (HOA) do not require planning permits for landscaping modifications.
- All other residential, commercial and industrial properties require permits for landscaping modifications, such as the removal or planting of new landscaping materials, new sidewalks and pathways, removal of swimming pools, or conversion of common areas. Depending on the scope of work, permits may be required from multiple Departments, including Planning, Building, or Public Works. Trimming of existing hedges or replanting of annuals do not need a permit.
- Water-Efficient Landscaping
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:
- Any project requiring a Planning permit where 500 sq. ft. or more of new or rehabilitated landscaping is proposed. Excluded from these regulations are R1- and R2-zoned properties, historic properties, community gardens, or commercial agriculture.
- Corner Lots with Landscaping
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.
- Single-Family Homes
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.
- Other Properties
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.
- Planting Recommendations
City staff has created a handout to assist homeowners/residents in planting new trees to maximize benefits, while minimizing impacts to utility lines or structures. City staff encourages trees to be planted at least 5 feet from any water utility line and 10 feet from any sewer utility line.
Most trees located adjacent to a street in the public-right-of-way are referred to as street trees. A street tree in the public right-of-way may be located in a landscaped area between the sidewalk and the street curb or in the front yard of a property, typically within 5 feet of the sidewalk.
- Maintenance and Care
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 Planting or Removal
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 Park Division's Street Trees page.
- Resources for Suggested Trees and Landscaping
Resources on water-efficient landscaping, trees and smart irrigation design for Mountain View’s local “Mediterranean” climate are available online:
- Mountain View Trees provides resources and education on trees in Mountain View.
- US EPA WaterSense Program has suggestions on landscape and irrigation designs for yards.
- Canopy is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit with suggestions on appropriate planting and maintenance of trees.
- California Dept. of Water Resources’ WUCOLS (Water Use Classifications of Landscape Species), a guide for selecting water-efficient plant materials with lists of recommended plants based on your location and climate.
- Neighbor Relations
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 email@example.com.