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Frequently Asked Questions about the permit process for Tree Removal and Pruning in the right-of-way
The Permit Application forms are now fillable online. Click on the links below to either print and fill out or fill-out then print and submit (don't forget to sign).
Q: Do I need a permit to remove a tree or trees from my private property?
A: Yes and no. Well, really, it depends. If you are wishing to remove a tree from a Critical Area, as defined by Tacoma Municipal Code 13.11 you may need a permit. If you wish to remove just one or a couple of trees from private property that is not classed as a critical area, then no permit may be needed. For multiple trees, a clearing and grading permit may be needed. For more information, contact the Building and Land Use Permit Counter at email@example.com or 591-5030.
Q: What is right-of-way? How do I know where right-of-way is located?
A: Please see the What is right-of-way? page.
Q: Is a permit to build a raised bed in the right-of-way?
A: Yes, per TMC 9.08. A no-fee Street Occupancy Permit is required. Your plan does not need to be in color, but please make sure everything is clearly labeled -including all utilities, driveways, signs and streetlights-before submitting.
Q: Is a permit needed to prune/remove trees in the right-of-way?
A: Yes! Under TMC 9.18 and 9.20 a permit is required to prune or remove trees from the right-of-way, regardless of who is removing the tree.
According to Tacoma Municipal Code (TMC) 9.18 are required to prune and remove trees in the right-of-way. Please use the Tree Work Permit Application to apply for pruning, removal (not for view purposes) and planting.
According to TMC 9.20, permits are required to prune or remove trees from rights-of-way or public property for view purposes. For pruning or removals for under TMC 9.20, please use this application.
Q: Is a permit needed to plant trees or shrubs in the right-of-way?
A: Currently yes per TMC 9.19. We are working to only require written approval instead of a permit, but for now, please use the permit application linked to above and below. An example of the kind of drawing we are looking for (although your plan does not need to be in color, but please make sure everything is clearly labeled -including all utilities, driveways, signs and streetlights-before submitting). Remember to call before you dig too.
Q: What do I need to do in order to obtain a permit to trim, remove or plant in the right-of-way?
A: First, fill out the appropriate application. Please read and follow the directions carefully. Permit applications do require review time. Please plan for a minimum of one week of review time for trimming/removal under TMC 9.18 or planting for TMC 9.19. Review time for TMC 9.20 applications is often significantly longer due to the process and public notice required by code.
Q: What is this going to cost me?
A: For TMC 9.18 and 9.19 permits: Nothing, except for a little bit of time. The tree permit is a no-fee permit, a.k.a. free. For TMC 9.20 permits, please read the application, the fee is the estimated cost of ivestigation and issuance of determination by Public Works, subject to change.
Q: Who needs to apply for a tree work permit?
A: Any company or individual working in the City of Tacoma's right-of way removing trees or carrying out any pruning or planting. Property owners can obtain a permit for removals unless the tree is dangerous and requires a professional to remove.
Q: How do I get one of those tree work permits?
A: It's simple. First, fill out a Tree Work Permit Application and submit to Building and Land Use Permit Intake Counter. The application will take up to a week to process, so please think ahead and be patient. Next we will contact you with the status of your application. If approved, you'll need to bring:
- A copy of your current state contractor's license or your current driver's license or passport for property owners*
- Proof of current bonding for companies or proof of current home owner's insurance for property owners*
- A street obstruction bond for the work to be done
- An approved Traffic Control Plan (see below for more information)
Submit to the Permit Intake Counter at 747 Market Street (the Tacoma Municipal building), Room 345. The permit counter is open from 8 am to 4:30pm. If you have any questions or need assistance with the process, please contact the permit counter at 591-5030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then walk out with your no-fee tree work permit. That's it!
* Please note, for dangerous trees, a professional licensed and bonded contractor will be required to complete the removal. Homeowner's are not eligible to apply for removal permits on dangerous trees. If you have questions, please contact 253.591.2048.
You will need a traffic control plan for pruning and removals to shut down the sidewalk or street during the removal of the tree. Please read the Traffic Control Handbook and these instructions. If you have questions or need assistance regarding traffic control, please call Traffic Engineering at 591.5500.
Q: Why should I apply for a tree permit?
A: You should apply for the permit because it may help protect your business, employees, customers, or neighbors in the event of an accident or error.
The City maintains a list of current licensed and bonded tree care companies that is given to citizens who are in need of tree care. If you are a tree care company, are you on the list? Please call 253.591.2048 or email email@example.com for a copy of that list.
Q: How do I find a certified arborist/tree care service or a consulting arborist to perform tree work?
A: Certified arborist/tree care service. Consulting arborist.
Q: What is a consulting arborist and when would I contact one?
A: ASCA (American Society of Consulting Arborists) has the answer to this very question.
E-mail contact for this page: firstname.lastname@example.org