Tree Replacement requirements

Legally, healthy living trees can only be removed with a permit from the county. The reason for tree removal is usually that the tree stands in the way of construction plans.

When one or more trees are removed to make way for a new house or addition, the property owner is required to replace them. Monterey Pines and Coast Live Oaks are the trees that are most significant in Cambria. To assure that new trees survive to replace the ones that have been removed, four Monterey Pine trees must be planted to replace any that are removed. Six Coast Live Oak trees must be planted to replace each one of that species that is removed.

Final approval of the building permit requires that the property owner submit a letter from a landscape expert that trees have been successfully planted.

Greenspace The Cambria Land Trust grows Monterey Pine seedlings and can provide them to the property owner. Greenspace can also plant the trees for the property owner on one of its protected properties. Contact them at 805-927-2866,

After young trees are planted, the law requires that they be caged to protect them from being eaten by deer, watered and weeded to insure their survival. The property owner is required to have a tree expert check on the newly planted trees once a year and report on how they are doing to the county.

Many trees in Cambria’s Monterey Pine Forest have died during the drought. This raises fire hazard issues. Cal Fire has tagged hazardous trees, which are now being removed. Although no permit is required to remove dead trees, the County has asked property owners to replace dead trees one for one.

Here are the specifics:

From the North Coast Area Plan Chapter 7: Planning Area Standards, Cambria Urban Area Standards, B. Combining Designations, p. 7-21 through 25:

F. Replacement of Vegetation. Any Monterey pine trees that are six inches or more in
diameter 4.5 feet above ground removed shall be replaced at a 4:1 ratio. Any oak trees
that are four inches or more in diameter 4.5 feet above ground removed shall be
replaced at a 6:1 ratio. All open areas of the site disturbed by project construction are to
be seeded with native, drought and fire resistant species that are compatible with the
habitat valve of the surrounding forest. Replacement vegetation shall be planted in
conformance with the following measures:
(1) A replanting plan shall be prepared as a part of the application. Elements of this
plan shall include the type, size and location of vegetation; a description of
irrigation plans; and plan notes indicating compliance with the standards of this
section. Any proposed on-site or off-site replanting plan must be approved by
the County Planning and Building Department prior to issuance of building
(2) Container sizes for all replacement seedlings shall be one gallon, unless approved
by the Director of Planning and Building. Pinus radiata var. macrocarpa, the native
Monterey Pine tree, shall be used for replanting of any pine tree removed. No
out of area Monterey Pine stock shall be used.
(3) New trees shall be planted to reinforce the forest character on the site and in the
street frontage, and to screen proposed development.
If insufficient area exists to plant all or any of the replacement vegetation on site,
then the replanting plan shall identify an appropriate off-site area and owned or
managed by an appropriate government agency or nonprofit organization.
If an off-site replanting is chosen, the replanting must occur with the review and
approval of the Environmental Coordinator, and shall be verified by submittal of
a letter from the appropriate agency or organization to the Environmental
Coordinator. All replacement conditions and monitoring measures (e.g., number
of trees, maintenance, etc.) shall apply.

(5) Prior to final building permit inspection, the applicant shall provide a letter to
the County prepared by a qualified nurseryman or landscape contractor that the
revegetation plan has been properly implemented; and
(6) All new plants shall be maintained until successfully established. This shall
include caging from animals (e.g., deer, rodents), periodic weeding and adequate
watering (e.g., drip-irrigation system). If possible, planting during the warmest,
driest months (June through September) shall be avoided. In addition, standard
planting procedures (e.g., planting tablets, initial deep watering) shall be used.
(7) Maintenance shall be often enough to keep weeds at least 3 feet away from each
planting, provide adequate moisture to all plants, and ensure all other
components (e.g., irrigation system, caging) are kept in good working order.
(8) The health and maintenance of replacement vegetation shall be monitored at
least once a year from the date of final building permit inspection for a period of
time no less than three years, or until the vegetation is successfully established,
whichever comes later. Monitoring reports shall be prepared by an expert
competent in landscape planting and maintenance of the Monterey pine forest,
and reports shall be submitted to and approved by the County.

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