Report Street tree and Landscape Violations

How do I report a landscape violation?

Landscape-related violations, such as illegal removal and improper trimming, are handled by two separate City departments. Street trees are considered part of the street infrastructure and are managed by the Transportation and Storm Water Department. Required landscape material outside of the public right-of-way is handled by the Code Enforcement section of the Development Services Department.

Street Tree Violations - within the public right-of-way

A "No Fee" Street Tree Permit is required prior to planting, trimming, or removing a tree. More specifically, SDMC 62.0604 states that, "No person, firm or corporation shall, without a permit, remove, destroy, break, cut, trim, deface, or in any other way injure or interfere with any tree, palm, shrub or plant, or endanger the life of any such tree, palm or shrub or plant that is now or may hereafter be growing in any street or other public highway of the City of San Diego."

Street trees are located within the public right-of-way. Street trees can be required as part of a new development or planted by a property owner or other organization. To report the improper trimming, removal, or destruction of a street tree, contact Streets Division Service Request.

Required Landscape Violations - outside of the public right-of-way

Violations involving required landscape are processed through the City's Development Services Department - Code Enforcement section. Due to limited resources, the cases that Code Enforcement is able to investigate are limited to certain violations which are outlined on the Neighborhood Code Enforcement and Priorities list. Based on the enforcement priorities list, Neighborhood Code does not take action on the removal of required landscape. However, there are situations that arise where significant removal of trees or other landscape material occurs which does necessitate action by the City.

To request that Code Enforcement open a case for investigation involving removal of required landscape, the information must first be reviewed by the Community Forest Advisory Board. Sufficient information should be submitted in advance of the meeting to allow board members and staff the opportunity to review the severity of the violation and to determine whether the request should be forwarded to Code Enforcement for investigation.

Requests should include the Code Enforcement PDF icon Request for Investigation form and photos of the violation. Copies of building records showing the required landscape (from 2nd floor of Development Services - Records) and other information are useful. Information submitted may not be returned.

CFAB will evaluate Requests for Investigation with these criteria:

  • Quantity of trees/landscape removed
  • Evidence submitted
  • Impact to the community and recommendation from Community Planning Group (if available)

"Required landscape" means trees, shrubs, and other landscape material that are required by the Land Development Code (LDC) as part of a new development. Removal of required landscape material, or replacement with other landscape material, is not permitted without authorization from the Development Services Department. Such authorization is in the form of a Construction Change, Substantial Conformance Review, or Permit Amendment. Landscape materials, such as trees and shrubs, are required based on calculated point values involved in landscape calculations used to determine the required sizes and quantities. Replacing a parking lot or street yard with palm trees, for instance, where canopy shade trees were required, is not allowed without the proper review for compliance with the Landscape Regulations, LDC Section 142.0401. More information is available at Landscape Plan Review.

Requests for a Landscape Violation Investigation may be sent to the Development Services CFAB Representative: Alex Hempton, Associate Planner, Development Services, 1222 First Ave., MS 501, San Diego, CA 92101. E-mail: [email protected]

Due to extremely limited resources, staff may not respond to investigation requests and not all requests may be recommended for investigation. After analyzing the request, CFAB may recommend to the Code Enforcement administrator that an investigation be performed.