In general, a tree permit is required if a native oak tree, landmark tree, or a protected street tree is present on a site which will be developed, redeveloped, or if improvements such as swimming pools, building additions, accessory structures, or retaining walls are added to an already developed site. If protected trees exist on a site where work will disturb the natural topography, even if the activity is not directly under or near the tree, a permit is likely to be required. A tree permit is required when performing any mechanical support systems (cabling, bracing, bolting, guying and/or propping) on a protected tree.
Removal of protected trees, including dead trees, requires a tree permit. Any pruning that substantially modifies the shape of the tree, such as removal of major branches or trunks of multiple trunk trees, will require a tree permit. Exceptions to this rule are made for emergency situations and for utility companies engaging in routine maintenance of overhead wires.
The removal of dead branches, or branches less than 2 inches in diameter on a protected tree does not require a tree permit. There is no topping, no heading cuts, no flush cuts, no stub cuts, rip cuts, no use of caff hooks (on trees to remain) and no more than 25% of canopy to be removed in any 1-year period.
Are there fees associated with tree removal for building?The Tree Preservation Ordinance requires that the removal of protected trees be mitigated. Mitigation can be in the form of replacement plantings and/or the payment of in-lieu fees. Replacement plantings are usually required to be of the same species as the trees that were removed. In-lieu fees are based on the location of the tree on the lot and the diameter of the trunk and are set by the City Council. In-lieu fees are deposited in a special fund restricted to new tree planting, tree replacement, or to obtain or enhance other community forest assets.
Trees add scientifically measurable benefits to our neighborhoods, and the City Council determined that such a valuable resource merits protections. This protection is clearly stated in the Tree Preservation Ordinance (FMC 12.16.01). Here are a few of the benefits that trees provide:
- Trees offer us energy savings because of the shade they provide.
- They reduce storm water runoff and soil erosion by intercepting rainfall.
- Trees increase air quality by absorbing pollutants and by releasing oxygen into our atmosphere.
- Trees preserve wildlife habitat, enhance property values and provide a sense of identity and tradition in our neighborhoods.
- In addition, trees add to the quality of our lives by beautifying our community. In particular, our native oaks are uniquely suited to our soils and environment, offering particular pleasure through their stunning architecture and require very little additional irrigation water. Many of the native oaks in the City of Folsom date back hundreds of years, and are historically significant. Some of these trees, which still exist in our own backyards and public areas, were the source of food, tools, heat and shelter for the Native Americans that preceded our civilization. Other trees, especially in the Historic District, were planted by some of the earliest settlers.
What trees are considered protected?
Protected trees under the Tree Preservation Ordinance include native oak trees. In our region, blue oaks (Quercus douglassi), interior live oaks (Quercus wislizenni), and valley oaks (Quercus lobata) are the most common. Natural hybrids of these trees are also protected.
Other protected trees include landmark trees, as designated by the City Council, and street trees. Street trees are trees growing within 12.5 feet of a public right-of-way, and are contained in a master tree list of desirable species for the City of Folsom.
In order to be considered protected, the tree must have a trunk diameter, measured at 4.5 feet above average natural grade, of at least 6 inches. If a tree has multiple trunks and none over 6 inches in diameter, then it must have an aggregate diameter of at least 20 inches to be considered protected by the city ordinance.
Building with trees?
If you are planning to build a home or other structure on a site that contains protected trees, you will be asked to provide certain information. Most applications will require that a tree inventory by an I.S.A. Certified Arborist be prepared and provided to the city's planning and engineering staff.
Trees must be located horizontally and vertically, and trunk locations and exclusion boundaries for root and truck protection indicated on the grading or site plan. Off-site protected trees which overhang the lot or that might be affected by access, lot grading, or other activity shall also be included. Staff will use this information to evaluate whether tree removal or encroachment into exclusion areas is necessary, how to best mitigate any potential damage, and whether other reasonable design options exist that might preserve trees.
The goal of these tree preservation efforts is ultimately to add value to the property and to conserve environmental, and often historical, resources. Links to practical information about protecting trees during construction can be found at the top of this page. If you are planning to build a home or other structure on a site that contains protected trees, you will be asked to provide certain information.