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Tree Removal Guide

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Tree 1
Need to file an application for a tree permit?

Tree Removal Guide:

Barn Owl 1Property owners should postpone trimming trees if an active bird or squirrel nest is present. The time required for a bird to complete its nesting cycle varies by species, but most birds have active nests for a minimum of four weeks, so delaying the cutting or trimming of trees shouldn't be difficult. Native nesting birds are protected from disturbance by state and federal laws. The City recommends that home-owners postpone non-emergency tree work until the time between October and December, when it is least likely that birds and squirrels will be nesting their young. This is also a better time to prune trees  because they are dormant. For more information on laws protecting native birds please click here, or to find out what to do when wildlife is displaced; please visit our friends at the Hungry Owl Project and Wildcare.


  • 100 trees remove 5 tons of carbon dioxide a year
  • 100 trees remove 1,000 pounds of pollutants a year, including 400 pounds of ozone and 300 pounds of particulates
  • 100 mature trees catch about 100,000 gallons of rainwater per year
  • Strategically placed trees can save up to 30 percent of air conditioning and 10 percent to 25 percent winter heating costs
  • Large specimen trees can add as much as 10 percent to property values
  • Consumers spend more time and 12 percent more for goods in tree-lined commercial districts.

*Source:  U.S. Forest Service Western Center for Urban Forest Research and Education, UC Davis, CA

Tree permits are issued by the Planning Department Monday - Thursday from 9am - 11am at 922 Machin Avenue

Collect the appropriate documents:

  • Read through the informational handout to learn when and why this permit is needed.
    • The handout also describes what your application must include.
  • Print out the application form and fill it out.
    • For project type select"Tree Permit."
    • Some items will not apply, the important ones are the contact info and project description.
  • Sketch a site plan.
    • A site plan is an overhead, (bird's eye), view of your property that shows your property lines and the location of any structures on the property.
    • Many people use free tools such as google maps to print an overhead view of their lot and then sketch in the locations of the trees marked for removal.
    • If you are still unsure how to create a site plan please call the Novato Planning Division at (415) 899-8989 and one of our staff members will be more than happy to assist you.
  • Take pictures of the tree.
    • Take pictures that show the entire tree and its surrounding area.
    • If tree health is cited as the reason for removal, please provide a picture that clearly shows the symptoms of the disease.
  • Choose an arborist and have them draft a letter describing the state of the tree marked for removal.
    • A letter from an arborist will include the reason for removal, any conditions affecting the tree, and a recommendation for removal of the tree.
  • Prepare a check made out to the City of Novato.
    • The cost per tree is $100.00 plus an additional plan storage fee of $2.50 per application.
      • i.e. Removing two trees will cost $200 x 2 trees + $2.50 = $202.50
    • If you are removing 6 or more trees then a deposit of $860.00 will be collected plus an additional plan storage fee of $2.50 per application.

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