Keeping Tacoma's Urban Forest Safe and Beautiful
Because it only takes a minute to improperly prune or remove a tree but a lifetime to grow one, it is imperative to protect and preserve mature trees from unnecessary removal or destruction. Therefore all pruning, planting, and removal work on street trees (or any public tree located on City property) must be performed by a Certified Arborist and a no-fee Tree Work Permit and barricade permit are needed for any type of pruning, or removal.
Only a no-fee Tree Work permit is required to plant any tree on city property.
Tree Work and barricade permits can be obtained through the Permit Center and they can be reached at (253) 591-5030.
Different species of trees are appropriate for different size planting strips within the City. To determine correct tree species check our Recommended Street Tree Lists on our Planting page.
If a street tree is an imminent hazard, call (253) 591-5495 and request an emergency inspection.
Street Tree Removal
This is only for trees growing in the right-of-way, generally between the curb and sidewalk.
Tacoma's urban forest is a valuable asset, and all trees on public property are protected. Trees provide increasing benefits as they grow, and mature trees are an asset that requires decades to replace. Tacoma carefully considers each and every request to remove a street tree, and encourages tree planting, regular tree maintenance, and alternatives to tree removal except where no viable alternative exists. Street trees can only be removed if they meet the criteria of being dead, dying or dangerous. Conditions that do not warrant removal include the tree dropping fruit or leaves, the tree being perceived as too tall or making too much shade or the cost of routine maintenance.
Street tree pruning permits can be applied for online. Only an owner of the property abutting the street tree, or the owner's designee, may apply for a street tree pruning permit.
If a permit for street tree removal is granted, replanting with a tree chosen from our Recommended Street Tree list is encouraged.
Note that submitting an application does not entitle you to a permit, and that you must have the permit in hand before beginning any work. In many cases, pruning is sufficient to alleviate potential hazards. In these cases, a pruning permit will be issued. If the tree meets removal criteria, a Permit will be issued.
Tree removal requires the stump be removed at least eight inches below the surface of the ground. Tree and stump removal must be completed within 30 days of permit issuance.
Failure to obtain a permit or meet the conditions of the permit may result in fines of up to $100 per violation and/or imprisonment in the County Jail for up to 30 days. (TMC 9.18.040).
Apply here for a street tree removal permit
Private Property Tree Removal
This is only for trees growing in yards, not in the public right-of-way.
The City of Tacoma generally has no tree cutting ordinance that regulates the cutting of trees on private properties. You may need a permit if your property is located in or near critical areas. Critical areas include critical aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas (FWHCAs), flood hazard areas, geologically hazardous areas, stream corridors, and wetlands. Please call the Permit Counter at (253) 591-5030 and a Permit Specialist will review your property status to determine if a permit is needed. If a permit is needed, an application will be sent to you.
Wood Waste Diversion (higher uses than firewood)
Consider other uses for the wood generated from pruning and removals, below we've included some resources for you.
Hazard Tree Removal
Occasionally the City has funds to assist property owners with the cost of removing hazardous street trees. Trees removed under this program are removed by City crews or tree care companies hired by the City.
NOTE: No funding is currently available for this program. Check back to see if more funds become available.
For information about assistance, please call 311.
Some important things to know about hazard trees:
A hazard tree exists when the sum of the risk factors assessed equals or exceeds a determined threshold of risk. Below that threshold, the tree is not considered to be a hazard.
Risk factors are assessed during a tree risk assessment performed by a Certified Tree Risk Assessor.
Tree risk assessment examines the whole tree, or a part of it. It is only undertaken when there is a target (people and/or property within striking distance of the tree or its parts) that might be damaged if the tree or tree part were to fail.