The City of Whittier is known for its urban forest. Trees beautify the City and enhance the quality of life for all residents.
Following is a brief review of the City’s policy for the planting, maintenance and removal of all trees on City property and right-of-ways.
These specifications are based on National standards for tree care set by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the National Arborist Association and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Tree City USA
The National Arbor Day Foundation has recognized the City of Whittier as a Tree City, USA since 1988.
Tree City USA is sponsored in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service and recognizes communities that have proven their commitment to an effective, ongoing forestry program. To become a Tree City USA, a community must meet the following four standards: (1) a tree board or department, (2) a tree care ordinance, (3) a forestry program, and (4) an Arbor Day observance.
Parkway Tree Ordinance
The Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services oversees the planting and maintenance of all parkway trees. Per Municipal Code 12.40, residents and/or property owners are required to apply for a permit to plant, trim, or remove any tree within the parkway. You may apply for a permit from the Parks Division or call 562-567-9400 for more information.
Parkway Tree Manual
The purpose of the “Parkway Tree Manual” is to provide guidelines for the preservation and protection of the City’s urban forest as established in the Ordinance, WMC 12.40.
Typically it is the strip of property between the curb and property line, with or without a sidewalk, in which the City has the right-of-way for street tree planting, utilities, etc. The parkway width varies by street/location. Call Public Works at 562-567-9500 for the actual parkway width for a specific address. Municipal Code 8.24.007, Duty of Property Owner, states a property owner’s obligation is to maintain the right-of-way (parkway) in a tidy and weed free condition. The City maintains the City planted trees.
Parkway Tree Index
The Parkway Tree Index-Masterplan is a guide for tree planting in the parkways throughout the City, taking into consideration site tolerance, soil types, locally indigenous species, mature height/width, overhead utility lines and a number of other criteria.
It shall be the duty of the director to oversee the duties to plant, trim, prune and care for all trees, shrubs, or plants and to authorize removal of all objectionable trees, shrubs or plants in and upon any street, park, alley or public place in the city, subject to the review of the city manager. Subject to said review, the director shall have the power to designate the kind or variety of trees, shrubs or plants to be planted upon any street, park, alley or public place of the city; providing, however, that the owners of property fronting on any street, alley or public place may petition the city council that such trees, shrubs or plants shall be of a certain kind or variety, but the petition shall be advisory to the action of the council. All trees planted in any public property in a new subdivision shall be in accordance with the rules and regulations of the director and shall be paid for by the sub-divider. The council may require any sub-divider to appropriate money for proper tree planting along the streets of any new subdivision before approving any subdivision map.
12.40.040 – Trimming or Removing
Property owners my contact the Park Division office to request to have their parkway tree trimmed. The Tree Maintenance Supervisor will inspect the tree and determine if it is within the criteria to warrant a trim. He will contact the property owner to advise them of his findings.
No person shall cut, trim, prune, plant, remove, injure or interfere with any tree, shrub or plant upon any street, park, alley or public place of the city without a permit therefor from the director. The director is authorized to grant such permission in his or her discretion, but no such permit shall be valid for a longer period than thirty days after its date of issuance.
12.40.090 Making Attachments
It is illegal to nail, wire, rope or use any other device whatsoever to attach signs, lights, swings, etc. to a parkway tree.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I cut back the surface roots in my lawn?
The Tree Maintenance Supervisor will inspect the area and advise how far back the roots may be trimmed without compromising the integrity of the tree.
Can the tree be removed because the sidewalk is lifting?
No. However, there are mitigation measures the city may utilize to repair the damage. Contact Public Works Deptartment for inspection of the sidewalk, 562-567-9500.
The Tree is messy; can it be trimmed and/or removed?
The City does not trim for sap, bloom dropping or any other debris. If the tree is healthy, it cannot be removed. The Tree Maintenance Supervisor will inspect the tree and determine if any work on the tree is warranted.
My tree is too tall, can it be topped?
Topping trees is very damaging.Therefore, topping is not allowed on any City tree.
My plumber says tree roots are in my plumbing. Can the tree be removed?
The City does not remove trees for sewer issues. If tree roots are suspect, prior to performing any repair work, the homeowner must expose the site, call for an inspection by the Tree Maintenance Supervisor who will verify there is a City tree and roots from that tree are present. If repair work is to be performed, all excavation and plumbing permits are required from Public Works and Building and Safety Departments. You may request a claim form from the City Clerk Department. Contact the Public Works Department at 562-567-9500; https://www.cityofwhittier.org/government/public-works/sewer-maintenance/-fsiteid-1
Phone Numbers for Inspections / Permits
- Tree Maintenance Supervisor: 562-567-9400
- Public Works: 562-567-9500
- Building and Safety: 562-567-9320
- City Clerk: 562-567-9850
Emergency or after 5:00 p.m., and Holidays:
- Whittier Police Department: 562-567-9240