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Tree Ordinance/Permits

Heritage Tree Definition

Chapter 12 of the Pacifica Municipal Code (Preservation of Heritage Trees) stipulates regulations designed to preserve and protect heritage trees on private or city-owned property. In general, heritage trees are defined as any trees within the City of Pacifica, exclusive of eucalyptus, which have a trunk with a circumference of fifty (50”) inches (approximately sixteen (16”) inches in diameter) or more, measured at twenty-four (24”) inches above the natural grade. See sections 4-12.02 and 4-12.03 of the Pacifica Municipal Code for a complete definition of a heritage tree. It is often necessary to obtain a permit when performing work on or engaging in construction around heritage trees.

Removal of Heritage Trees 

To remove a heritage tree, it is necessary to obtain a tree removal permit. Tree removal permits may be applied for at the City of Pacifica Planning Department located at 540 Crespi Dr. Effective July, 1, 2021, the cost of the Heritage Tree Application is $226.00 and five (5) stamped business size envelopes. Once an application for a tree removal permit has been submitted to the Planning Department, a member of the city staff will inspect the tree and issue a proposed decision determining which, if any, trees may be removed. If city staff recommends removal of the tree(s) in question, notice of the decision will be posted on the property and mailed to adjacent property owners. See sections 4-12-05 and 4-12-06 of the Pacifica Municipal Code for a thorough explanation of the application process.  Click here to obtain the Heritage Tree Application:  Heritage Tree Application

Appealing City Decision Regarding Tree Removal Permits

Once City staff have made a decision regarding a tree removal permit, there is a seven day waiting period in which an appeal may be filed with written notice of appeal with the Planning Director either by the property owner or a concerned citizen and pay the Heritage Tree Permit Appeal Fee of $405. (effective July 1, 2021). The appeal will be heard by the Pacifica Parks Beach & Recreation (PB&R) Commission. Once a decision has been reached by the PB&R Commission, there is again a seven day period in which this decision may be appealed to the City of Pacifica City Council by filing a notice of appeal with the City Clerk within seven (7) days of the date of the decision of the PR&R Commission, along with a fee of $514.50 to appeal the decision to the City Council (effective July 1, 2020).  Section 4-12-09 of the Pacifica Municipal Code describes the appeal process in detail.

Building Permits & Heritage Trees

Tree protection plans are required when engaging in new construction within the drip-line of a heritage tree. The plan must be prepared by a qualified arborist, horticulturist, landscape architect or other qualified person. See sections 4-12.07 and 4-12.08 of the Pacifica Municipal Code for specific rules regarding tree protection plans and building permits.

Logging Operations in Pacifica

Logging operations within the City of Pacifica are defined as any removal, destruction or harvesting of 20 or more trees within one year from any parcel or contiguous parcel in the same ownership. In reference to logging regulations, a tree is defined as any tree six inches in diameter as measured 12 inches from the ground. City of Pacifica Ordinance No. 636-C.S. prohibits logging operation unless one of the following conditions is met:

  • (a)Said operations are in conjunction with a city permit(s) requiring planning commission and/or city council approval, at which time said operations shall be evaluated and approved or denied at a duly noticed public hearing by the commission and /or council, concurrently with the other permit(s).
  • (b) Said operations are necessary immediately for the safety of life or property, as determined by the director of public works or his/her designee.
  • (c) Said operations occur on city-owned property and are necessary immediately to maintain public health and safety.

Refer to Ordinance No. 673-c.s. for more information concerning logging operations within the City of Pacifica.