Planting in the Rights-of-Way - The Planting Strip
Before planting a tree on a City right-of-way, you need to obtain a planting permit. The right-of-way is generally the area between the sidewalk and the street, and includes the planting strip for street trees.
- Planting permits are free.
- Planting, as well as pruning and removal, in all rights-of-way requires a permit.
In areas where there are no sidewalks or curbs, the Urban Forester will consider existing trees, right-of-way width, parking areas, and foreseeable street improvements when reviewing a planting permit.
Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Rights-of-Way
As trees grow, they will need pruning to provide a vertical clearance of at least eight feet over the sidewalks and 14 feet over streets and alleys.
Please note that street signage must be clearly visible. Street signage includes regulatory, warning, transit, and other City installed signs.
Vegetation planted in the right-of-way shall not obstruct sight of signs or sight distance at corners in order to clearly view pedestrians and traffic. This can usually be accomplished by ensuring trees are planted the proper distance from the corner and meet vertical clearance requirements, and ensuring that vegetation other than trees be kept at a height of three feet or lower, depending on the geography of the location.
Tree Placement Standards for Tacoma Rights-of-Way
| Center Line of Tree to Center Line of: |
| Street Corner|
| Stop and Yield Signs || |
| Utility Poles || |
| Other Traffic Control Signs || |
| Center Line of Tree to Edge of: |
| Face of Curb|
| Edge of Tree to Edge of:|
| Utility Worker Access Lids|
| Gas Shutoff Valves|
| Fire Hydrant and Hydrant Branches|
| Water Meter, Water Services and Water Mains|
| Storm Inlets, Catch Basins and Manholes|
| Storm/Sanitary Service Connections and Mains|
Always Call Before You Dig, 811 in Washington
In order to protect the health and well being of yourself, your property and the community, always locate and identify any underground utilities that may impact the location of your trees before you dig.
Non-Recommended Street Trees
Several trees are not permitted to be planted in the right-of-way per Tacoma Municipal Code 9.19. There are no exceptions. Prohibited trees consist of the following:
- Fruit trees
- Nut trees
- Mountain ash
- Big leaf maple
- Any species or type with growth characteristics similar to those above
Size of Tree When Planted
Residential street trees should be a minimum of one to one-and-a-half inches caliper (equivalent to about a 15 to 25 gallon container).
Non-residential sites, or sites prone to vandalism (such as near schools or bars), should be a minimum of two to two-and-a-half inches caliper at the time of planting.
Other Planting in the Rights-of-Way: Raised Beds
The City of Tacoma does allow raised beds to be constructed in the rights-of-way. A no-fee Street Occupancy Permit is required at this time. This permit can be obtained by contacting Real Property Services.
Raised beds need to meet the following standards:
- Maximum height for the built raised bed is two feet
- All raised beds shall be setback from the curb and sidewalk a minimum of two feet
- All raised beds shall provide pedestrian access to the sidewalk with a minimum of three feet width between sections
For more information about planting, please see the Tree-sources webpage. The above information applies to trees in the right-of-way, not on private property.