Street Trees

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WHAT IS A STREET TREE?
Street trees are any trees planted or intended to be planted, whose trunk is wholly or partially located within the public right-of-way.

 WHEN IS A PERMIT REQUIRED FOR STREET TREES?
Any street tree planting, pruning, or removal requires a street tree permit, subject to the conditions of Tacoma Municipal Code (TMC) 9.20 Urban Forestry.

WHEN ARE STREET TREES REQUIRED?
Street trees are typically required when:

  • Constructing new sidewalk;
  • Replacing more than 50% of an existing sidewalk along a site’s frontage (when 50 linear feet or more is being constructed)
  • Constructing new permanent roadways;
  • Altering the width of existing permanent roadways;
  • Associated with residential small-lot development
  • Associated with Preliminary Plats or Short Plats of 5 or more lots;
  • Associated with new commercial or industrial development as described in the tables of TMC 13.06.090.B;
  • Associated with a site redevelopment that includes a remodel and/or addition within a two-year period whose cumulative value is 50% or greater than the value of the existing development or structure;
  • Street tree removal results in non-compliance with TMC 13.06.090.B

TREE SELECTION AND INSTALLATION
The Urban Forest Manual (UFM) provides best management practices for plant selection, design, installation, care, and other specifications. Species shall be selected to avoid or minimize potential conflicts with infrastructure and utilities. Trees under power lines shall have a maximum mature height (at 25 years of age) not greater than 25 feet.

Street Tree Placement (in order of preference) shall be: between the sidewalk and curb/roadway, behind the sidewalk, in medians/bulb-outs, or on private property within 10’ of the Right-of-Way.

Review the Street Tree Planting Tip Sheet for required separation and planting standards.

TREE SIZE

Street trees are categorized as Large, Medium or Small as determined by the Canopy Factor. Please review the City of Tacoma Urban Forestry Manual for a list of pre-approved street trees.

Trees provided to meet the landscaping requirements shall be consistent with the following size requirements at the time of planting:

  • For deciduous trees, at least 50 percent of the trees provided shall be a minimum 2-inch caliper at the time of planting, with the remaining deciduous trees a minimum 1½-inch caliper.
  • For evergreen trees, at least 50 percent of the trees provided shall be a minimum of 6 feet tall, with the remaining evergreen trees a minimum of 5 feet tall at the time of planting.

EXISTING TREE CREDIT
Review TMC 9.20, 13.06.090.B and the City of Tacoma’s Urban Forestry Manual to determine if your project can receive credit for existing street trees.

PERMITTING
The planting, pruning, or removal of trees within the City right-of-way requires a Right-of-Way Tree Permit (RTRE Permit). Review for the location, size, and number of street trees may occur through the RTRE, RCON, or Work Order Permit. Proposed and existing trees also need to be shown as part of a Site Development and/or Building Permit plan set, to demonstrate that the proposal is meeting the applicable street tree requirements.

Developments with 500 square feet or more of landscaped area, and/or developments that include new permanent roadways that trigger the need for 10 or more street trees are required to submit a Landscape Management Plan, prepared by a Registered Landscape Architect, Certified Landscape Technician, or Certified Professional Horticulturalist, as listed in TMC 13.06.090.B

RESOURCES

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