Ojai’s Tree Ordinance

A resident’s guide to the preservation, cutting, and removal of Oak, Sycamore, Heritage, and other designated mature trees in Ojai.

(Click here to access the complete “Tree Ordinance,” Ojai Municipal Code Section 4, Chapter 11.)

Trees Protected Under The Ordinance – Section 4-11.03

  • Heritage Trees: Refers to any tree of any genus, whether a species or hybrid of any size, which is designated as such by a resolution of the City Council based on its historical, cultural, or other value as determined by the City Council. A listing of such trees is available at City Hall.
  • Mature Tree: Refers to any tree species equal to or greater than twelve inches in diameter as measured four and one-half feet above the root crown or, in the case of a tree with more than one trunk, any such tree for which the sum of its two largest trunks equals or is greater than fourteen and one-half inches as measured four and one-half feet above the root crown.
  • Oak Tree: Refers to any single trunked tree of the Quercus genus equal to or greater than eight inches in diameter as measured four and one-half feet above the root crown or, in the case of an oak with more than one trunk, any such tree for which the sum of its two largest trunks equals or is greater than eleven inches as measured four and one-half feet above the root crown.
  • Sycamore Tree: Refers to any tree of the platanus genus equal to or greater than eight inches in diameter as measured four and one-half feet above the root crown or, in the case of a sycamore with more than one trunk, any such tree for which the sum of its two largest trunks equals or is greater than ten inches as measured four and one-half feet above the root crown.

When Permits Are Required – Section 4-11.04

Under the ordinance a permit is required to remove, prune (4 inch diameter branches or larger) or trench/grade around oak, sycamore, or heritage trees of a specified size (generally 8 inches in diameter) on all property within the City. In addition to this requirement a permit is required to remove specified mature trees on vacant or developed property other than single-family residential with an existing dwelling. No permit is required to prune or remove trees other than oaks, sycamores or designated heritage trees on single-family zoned property with an existing dwelling.

Single-family zoned properties with an existing dwelling, as well as, all other vacant and developed properties require a permit for:

  • Pruning of live limbs over 4″, if a certified arborist performs work then permit fees are waived. Arborist needs to fill out an application and provide proof of certification.
  • Tree removal & relocation
  • Trenching, grading, & construction activities in the dripline of Oak, Sycamore, & Heritage Trees.

In addition to the above all other vacant and developed properties require a permit for:

  • Tree removal & relocation
  • Trenching, grading, & construction activities in the dripline of Mature Trees. Section 4-10.12 of the Ordinance provides that…”Any person leasing, transferring or selling any or all portions of an interest in real property in the City shall be required to disclose in writing the number and species of trees on the property protected and/or regulated by the chapter to the lessee, buyer, or transferee as part of the real estate transactions.” This notice can also be accomplished by provision of a copy of this brochure to the buyer, prior to close of the transaction.

Enforcement of Ordinance – Section 4-11.13

Violation; Penalty: Any person who cuts, damages, moves or removes any oak, sycamore, heritage or other designated mature tree within the City, or encroaches into the dripline of such tree, in violation of the ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction may be punished.

Violation; Restriction: Oak, sycamore, heritage, and other designated trees within the City are valuable assets to the citizens of the Ojai Valley and, as a result of the loss or damage to any of these trees, the public should be recompensed. In addition to penalties, any person who cuts, damages, or removes any tree, in violation of the ordinance, is responsible for property restitution and may be required to do any or all of the following:

  • Replace the oak, sycamore, heritage, or other designated mature tree, by replanting two or more of such trees of equivalent size and value to the tree damaged.
  • Pay double the customary tree permit application fee and provide for replacement of the damaged or removed trees in an amount that is double their value.

Why The City of Ojai Has A Tree Ordinance

The City of Ojai adopted a Tree Ordinance in order to recognize oak, sycamore, heritage, and other mature trees as having significant historical, aesthetic, and ecological importance, and to create favorable conditions for the preservation and propagation of this unique, irreplaceable plant heritage for the benefit of current and future residents of the City. The City’s General Plan Conservation and Land use Elements specifically calls for the preservation of oaks and sycamores “within and adjacent to the community.”

What Trees Are Protected By The Ordinance?

Oak, Sycamore, Heritage, and Mature Trees. A permit is required for removal and relocation, or for trenching, grading, and construction activities in the dripline, of any of the above mentioned trees. In some cases, a permit is also required for pruning. Mature Trees on residential properties are not protected under The Ordinance.

To obtain a complete copy of The City’s Tree Protection Ordinance (Ordinance No. 738), please contact The City of Ojai directly at: Community Development Department, 401 S. Ventura Street, Ojai or call (805) 646-5581.