top of page

Protected Tree Ordinance and how to help report illegally cut trees

Updated: May 23

Presentation to

Mt. Washington Homeowners Alliance

May 9, 2022

Lynnette Kampe

Certified Arborist

CD1 Representative, Community Forest Advisory Committee - CFAC is an appointed committee dedicated to preserving a healthy urban forest so that all Angelenos can enjoy the many benefits our City’s trees provide. In recent years equity, ecosystem services and preserving biodiversity have become driving issues.

This is the current ordinance no. 186873, effective as of Feb. 4, 2021.

p. 5 “The protected tree or shrub be replaced within the property by at least four specimens of a protected variety … A protected tree shall only be replaced by other protected tree varieties and shall not be replaced by shrubs. A protected shrub shall only be replaced

by other protected shrub varieties.” It is important to replace a Walnut with a Walnut.

What it does….

  • Requires a permit for removal

  • Tree Report, fees, BPW hearing (if more than two trees)

  • Four-to-one replacement

  • Three year survival bond

  • Allows withholding or revocation of building permits for up to 10 years for illegal removal of protected trees.

  • Note: Any action that results in tree death considered a removal

and doesn’t do…

  • Does NOT prevent removal - a protected tree or shrub may be removed if it would prevent “reasonable development”

  • Does not protect planted trees or shrubs - planted from nursery stock is not protected - the rationale behind this was a desire not to discourage the planting of native trees

  • Does not protect saplings less than four inches in cumulative diameter

Evolution of Tree Protection in Los Angeles

1980 LA City Oak Tree Ordinance - protected only Oak trees, but not Scrub Oaks.

2006 Protected Tree Ordinance - added 3 additional native trees: California Black Walnut, California Sycamore, and California Bay.

Walnut (Juglans Californica) in winter
Walnut (Juglans Californica) in winter

Southern California Black Walnut is a local celebrity. It is endemic to CA, occurring primarily from Santa Barbara to San Diego and is Ranked as a CA Rare Plant (4.2) with Limited Distribution.

Oaks, Sycamores, and Bays are seldom seen in Mt. Washington - there are coast live oaks on the slope above Marmion. Sycamores and Bays are riparian trees. There is only one Ca. Bay that I am aware of - in a garden at Marmion and Ave. 45.

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia). Photo by Katherine Pakradouni

Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana)
Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana). Photo by Katherine Pakradouni

2021 Protected Tree & Shrub Ordinance - added Toyon & Elderberry to the list of protected species and the name of the ordinance changed to include shrubs.

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) In 2012, the City Council designated Toyon as the official native plant in the City of Los Angeles. It is believed to be the plant that gave Hollywood its name. It has cultural importance to the First Peoples of Los Angeles including the Chumash, Tongva and Tataviam. In the 1920s, collecting Toyon branches for Christmas became so popular that the State of California passed a law forbidding its collection on public land. The berries are loved by birds in late winter but mildly toxic to people without special preparation. It is native to the coastal and chaparral areas of California.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra caerulea, or Sambucus mexicana) is a small to medium sized deciduous tree bearing flat umbells of cream colored flowers in spring followed by purple berries in summer and fall. It has cultural importance to the First Peoples as a food source, for medicinal use and clapper sticks may be made from the hollow stems. This elderberry is native to canyons and valleys west of Sierra Nevada from Oregon to Baja and east to West Texas. It is extremely drought tolerant and an excellent wildlife plant.

2022 - Work in Progress

Tree Disclosure Form to alert developers and Planning staff to the presence of Protected Trees at the beginning of the building process. In The Mt. Washington area it also requires disclosure of any tree measuring 12 or more inches in diameter.

Expanded Tree Protection in progress - to include significant non-native trees - currently protected only in Mt. Washington and Glassell Park through our Specific Plan!

Why Protect Native Trees and Shrubs

  • They support 10-50 times more wildlife species than non-natives

  • They require less water and no chemicals

  • California is a Biodiversity HotSpot

  • Los Angeles is on the Pacific Flyway

  • 25% loss of birds in North America since 1970

  • Habitat loss is the greatest threat to species diversity

“Wild Beasts and birds are by right not the property merely of people today, but the property of unborn generations, whose belongings we have no right to squander.”

Theodore Roosevelt

What can you do? Here’s how you can help:

“ADOPT A LOT” near you. Become familiar with the native and protected trees around you.


Help us create a database of our Mt. Washington open areas with their protected trees.

BEFORE and AFTER photos are the only way to prove wrongdoing and bring illegal cutting to justice.

(A)Take photographs of an open area BEFORE trees are cut down. Please take a whole view of a lot from several angles showing the whole lot with its vegetation. Do not enter private properties. (B) Zoom in to specific protected trees if possible. (C) Record notice signs, address, time of your photos & copy us. (D)Take photographs AFTER trees are removed and if you catch the cutting in the act, take photographs and videos of the workers and their vehicles along with their license plates.

(E) Please Report trees being cut ASAP to: and select: Report A Protected Tree Violation Copy us with the request # or with your images and info at :


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page