A "protected tree" in Los Angeles is any of the following Southern California native tree species which measures 4 inches or more in cumulative diameter, 4 1/2 feet above the ground level at the base of the tree (DBH):

(a) Oak tree including Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) and California Live Oak (Quercus agrifolía), or any other tree of the oak genus indigenous to California but excluding the Scrub Oak (Quercus dumosa)

(b) Southern California Black Walnut (Juglans californica var. californica)

(c) Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

(d) California Bay (Umbellularia californica)

(e) Toyan (Heteromeles arbutifolia)  Added in December 2020

(f) Mexican Elderberry (Sambucus Mexicana)  Added in December 2020

This definition shall not include any tree grown or held for sale by a licensed nursery, or trees planted or grown as a part of a tree-planting program.


No person shall relocate or remove any protected tree, without first having applied for and obtained a permit from the Board of Public Works, Urban Forest Division. Fees and replanting obligations apply if permit is approved.  Penalty for removal is withholding of building permit for up to 10 years.  Here is the full ordinance:  


If you observe a protected tree(s) being cut down, please take pictures and contact the City of LA's Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA), Urban Forestry Division at  (800) 996-2489 and email David Miranda (Chief Urban Forester) at [email protected] right away.  For more information, see https://streetsla.lacity.org/urban-forestry-division.