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The original item was published from 10/4/2021 11:23:49 AM to 10/4/2021 11:23:49 AM.

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Planning & Building

Posted on: April 12, 2021

[ARCHIVED] City of Mill Valley's Tree Ordinance


Did you know that a permit is required to cut down trees on your property? 

The removal of a single tree without a permit, could cost you $15,000 in fines and fees.

Trees contribute greatly to the identity, character, environmental health and natural beauty of Mill Valley. The City of Mill Valley has a longstanding ordinance regarding maintenance, pruning, removal and management of trees within City limits. The policy requires a permit for cutting or significant pruning of a number of types of trees.

The goal of the City's tree ordinance is quite simple: It is in the interest of the community healthy, safety and general welfare to protect and preserve the City's urban forests and natural, wooded setting. This goal includes protection of "heritage trees," such as oak, tanbark oak, madrone, and redwood trees, and also restricts significant pruning or removal of other important tree species.

Heritage Trees

The City's Zoning regulations protect all heritage trees by regulating they removal and, where appropriate, encouraging their replacement. "The uncontrolled removal or destruction of these trees threatens to adversely affect the scenic beauty, destroy wildlife habitat, reduce privacy and increase the risk of erosion, mudslides and flooding," states the City's tree ordinance, which can be found in Chapter 20.67 of the City's Municipal Code. The City only allows removal of heritage trees when specific conditions are met, such as health and safety criteria.

Removal of any heritage tree requires a tree removal permit, and is only allowed under certain circumstances such as healthy and safety, public utility safety, etc.

A permit is required for major pruning of heritage trees.

Topping of heritage trees is considered removal and is allowed only with an approved tree permit.

Topping of trees for "view improvement" is not allowed.

All Other Trees

The City's tree regulations prohibit the removal of more than 3 trees of any kind in any one year without an approved tree permit. In addition, trees may not be cut on any vacant site without a permit, regardless of number.

A permit is required to cut more than three trees over 19-inch circumference in a 12 month period on a developed lot.

No tree over a 12 1/2 inch circumference may be removed from a vacant site without a tree permit.

Tree removal permits that are part of a larger development project are reviewed as part of the development application (Design Review, etc.).

For trees removed as part of a vegetation management plan, please contact the Planning Department. 

The Department of Public Works reviews all requests for removal and trimming of trees on public (City) property. Contact the Public Works staff at (415) 384-4800 for more information.

Call the Planning Department if you have questions prior to the removal or trimming of any tree on private property at (415) 388-4033 or

A summary of the City's tree regulations is available here.

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