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Protected Trees

The City Council has directed staff to prepare amendments to Chapter 14.18, Protected Trees, of the Cupertino Municipal Code. The potential amendments include:

  • Streamline process for removal of Protected Trees
  • Review and update:
    • List of specimen trees
    • Tree replacement mitigations/thresholds

Associated changes to Chapter 19.12, Administration, may result from the amendments. In accordance with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), environmental assessment is currently underway for the proposed amendments. 

Background Information

A study session was held by City Council in November 2012. At that meeting, staff presented the following materials:

  • Brief history on the Protected Trees Ordinance, including application process and fees
  • Current tree removal criteria and requirements, fees, and findings
  • Exemptions from the Protected Trees Ordinance for certain trees and in-lieu fees
  • Comparison to other cities related to their tree removal criteria, process, fees, exemptions, and mitigation
  • Options for amending the protected tree removal regulations
  • Environmental review, fiscal impact, public noticing, sustainability, permit streamlining and next steps

In March 2013, the City Council approved the following minor changes to Chapter 14.18, Protected Trees:

  • Remove references to public trees
  • Modify penalties for violations, from a misdemeanor to an infraction
Provided direction on further amendments to Chapter 14.18, Protected Trees 

In April 2014 and July 2014, the City Council held Study Sessions to provide further direction to staff on the changes to be made to the Protected Trees Ordinance. It is anticipated that the draft Tree Ordinance will be presented to the City Council in November 2014.

Upcoming Meeting Details

Staff prepared and circulated an Initial Study and Negative Declaration based on the proposed amendments discussed at the City Council Study Sessions. Below is a summary of the items discussed. 
        o Increase threshold for trees that do not require a tree removal permit from 10” DBH
             12” DBH. 
        o Introduce a two tier system for trees within single family and duplex zones
             (R1/A1/RH/S/R2) that require a permit prior to removal (streamline process): 
                • Tier 1 – Trees between 12” and 24” diameter at breast height (DBH): (Changes)
                     no arborist report, no notification, no covenant required for tree removal
                • Tier 2 – Trees,  greater than 24” DBH: (Changes) no covenant. 
        o Add optional in-lieu fee for tree replacements at 1.5 times the cost of purchasing,
             planting and maintaining the replacement tree(s). 
        o Introduce a cap to the amount of trees, between 12” and 24” DBH, to be removed
             within the single family and duplex zones (R1/A1/RH/S/R2). If an applicant would
             like to remove more than two or two percent of trees on the property, the permit
             will require an arborist report and notification.

The commenting period for the Notice of Intent, Initial Study and Negative Declaration ends November 7, 2014 at 5:00pm. The Initial Study and Negative Declaration will be available on October 17th.

Upcoming Meeting details
City Council Meeting 
Tuesday November 18, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.
Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue (next to the library) 
Staff Report and proposed Ordinance Amendments will be posted on Thursday, November 13th.  

Live Webcast:

For additional information or to make comments, please contact Tiffany Brown, Associate Planner, at  or 408.777.1356.

Past meetings:

City Council Study Session: 
Tuesday, July 7th, 2014
The City Council directed staff on the final edits they desire staff to study in the environmental documents.

Staff Report

4-15-14 CC Staff Report

4-15-2014 Minutes

Public Street Tree Fees

City Council Study Session:
April 15th, 2014
The City Council directed staff on providing additional data.

Staff Report

Protected Trees Ordinance

PC Staff Report (12-10-13)


City Council Meeting:
Tuesday, November 5, 2012
The City Council directed staff to return with minor amendments to the Protected Trees Ordinance. 

Please see the relevant attachments below:

Staff Report 
Tree Regulation Comparison for Neighboring Cities 
Protected Trees Ordinance
November 5, 2012 Webcast

City Council Meeting:
Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 6:45 p.m.
Please see the relevant attachments below:

Staff Report
Revised Protected Trees Ordinance
March 19, 2013 Webcast

Community Meetings
to gather public input were held on: 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 6:30 pm
Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue, Cupertino

Planning Commission Study Session
Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 6:45 pm
Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue, Cupertino

Archived information available at Staff Report 


Last updated: 9/16/2015 10:17:10 AM