Oak Trees

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img_4549Preserving Our Oaks

In an effort to save our oak trees for future generations, the City of Monrovia has adopted an oak tree preservation plan, found in Section 17.20.040 of the Monrovia Municipal Code. This code identifies which trees are subject to the ordinance and when a permit for removal or trimming is required.

Which Trees Does the Ordinance Cover?

Oak trees that are subject to the ordinance are the following:

  • Any trees in the oak family that measure ten inches in diameter or more at two feet above the level ground
  • Oak trees located in the front yard or street facing side yard of single-family properties
  • All oak trees located in the multiple-family, commercial or industrial zones (exception are single-family developed properties where no additional development is proposed are subject to same conditions as single-family zoned properties)
  • All oak trees on vacant lots
  • All oak trees indicated on an oak tree preservation plan

When Do I Need A Permit?

An oak tree preservation permit is needed when any of the oak trees that meet the above conditions are:

  • To be cut to the ground, completely extracted or killed or removed by any means
  • Removal of live tissue for the purpose of altering the appearance of an oak tree shall not be allowed. Therefore, ornamental pruning, thinning out, heading up, or any other similar pruning which involves the removal of live tissue is not permitted. However, deadwooding, or trimming the dead wood off, an oak tree is allowed and self-explanatory in that no live tissue is allowed to be removed.
  • If irrigation is to be installed or grading (cutting or filling) is to take place within the drip line of the tree

How Do I Obtain A Permit?

An oak tree preservation permit must be filed and a decision by the Development Review Committee shall be rendered for each permit application. The following information (along with a fee) shall be submitted:

  • A tree location map drawn to scale locating existing oak trees on the project site that have trunk diameters of ten inches or more measured at 2 ft. above grade
  • The map shall detail trunk diameter, base elevation, height and condition of each oak tree as done by a certified arborist

Review Process and Determination

The determination of the Development Review Committee will be based upon the following criteria:

  • The condition of the tree and proximity to existing and proposed structures/utilities
  • The necessity to remove the tree for compelling economic necessity to construct new structures, or to landscape with more suitable plant materials
  • Good forestry practice to promote the healthy growth of the tree
  • The topography of the land and the impact of tree removal on erosion, soil retention or water flow
  • The number of oak trees or other trees existing in the neighborhood

Exceptions To Obtaining A Permit

A permit may not be necessary in the case of emergency when a tree is hazardous or dangerous to life or property. It may be removed by order of any member of the police department, fire department, or community services department (parks and tree division). Additionally, any franchised public utility or representative of the city may remove trees that interfere with the safe and efficient operation of the public service for which they are responsible.


Violations of this section by a single-family homeowner shall be punishable as an infraction. Persons with violations on lots developed with other than single-family homes shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. Tree replacement may also be required.

Suggested Reading

The articles available for download below provide more information in regards to Oak Trees.

How to find a qualified arborist:

  1. Begin by reading the International Society of Arborists (ISA) handout "How, and Why, to Hire an Arborist."
  2. Then, search for a licensed, qualified professional near you using one of the following website’s arborist databases:
    1. International Society of Arborists (ISA)
    2. American Society for Consulting Arborists (ASCA)
    3. Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA)

Supporting Documents & Links