Trees are important – they improve our air quality, serve as habitats, and provide cooling shade. They are also historic landmarks in our community.
In 2022, the City convened an Ad Hoc Tree Advisory Committee to review the current tree regulations in the City’s municipal code and recommend updates to reflect the importance of preserving tree canopy cover, protecting significant trees (including Oregon White Oak.) After the Tree Advisory Committee completed its work, the Planning Commission and City Council reviewed their recommendations.
On November 7, 2022 the City Council adopted new tree regulations, including new tree preservation rules, as described in Ordinance 775 – click here to view.
Before maintaining or cutting down a tree, residents should check with the City to ensure the work is legal under the new rules. Once the new rules are in effect (March 1, 2023), residential lots greater than 10,000 square feet must get a permit to remove a tree. See handout for details on the March 1, 2023 code update requirements.
The City Council reviewed draft Ordinance 775 at its October 17 meeting. The Council set the date to take action on the ordinance to November 7 at 7 pm. You can see the materials for the November 7 meeting here, including directions about how to watch the meeting live or after the fact, once they are published.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed updates to the City’s tree regulations on July 6, 2022.
View a recording of the hearing by clicking here – it begins at approximately 30 minutes into the meeting. Written comments were accepted through noon on June 30, 2022.
The City reviewed the proposed edits to the municipal code and the comprehensive plan currently under review before the Planning Commission. View the July 6 meeting materials as amended to include proposed edits to LMC Chapter 2.48, including the public comments received, here.
The City Council convened a committee to review existing tree code and suggest improvements. The committee met seven times between March and April of 2022.
The Committee report includes recommendations on several key issues: tree canopy, exemptions, permitting, definitions, establishing a heritage or historical tree program, tree replacement/ removal standards, the City tree fund, fines, and incentives.
The Planning Commission began reviewing the tree preservation code update on May 4, 2022. The Commission’s review will continue through June and July. The Commission will hold its public hearing on July 6: View the July 6 meeting materials as amended to include proposed edits to LMC Chapter 2.48, including the written public comments received, here.
Thousands of American soldiers perished in WWI, and 500 oak trees were planted along I-5 in their memory. As the highway expanded, many oaks were destroyed. Lakewood resident Mike Farley collected acorns from these oaks and worked with the City of Lakewood to find a new “Boulevard of Remembrance” in Fort Steilacoom Park.
About the Urban Forestry Program
As a companion to the 2021 Energy & Climate Change Element in Lakewood’s Comprehensive Plan and its 3 year implementation work plan adopted on October 17, 2022 in Ordinance 776 as well as the City’s new tree preservation and regulation code adopted on November 7, 2022 in Ordinance 775, the City of Lakewood has partnered with the UW Evans School of Public Policy and Governance to develop the structure of an urban forestry program. Work on the structure will being in early 2023.
Local Tree Code and State Law Related to Trees
There are three areas in the Lakewood Municipal code related to tree protection/preservation. The code updates adopted in the Tree Code Ordinance 775 will go into effect March 1, 2023.
Lakewood Municipal Code Title 18A.70.300– Tree Preservation, promotes tree preservation by protecting the treed environment of the City of Lakewood by regulating the removal of significant trees and providing incentives to preserve trees that, because of their size, species, or location, provide special benefits.
Lakewood Municipal Code Critical Areas Ordinance, Chapter 14– which regulates critical areas in including Priority White Oak Woodlands. Priority White Oak Woodlands are defined in LMC 14.165 as
“Priority Oregon white oak woodland” means forested areas of pure oak, or of oak/conifer associations one acre or larger, and all oak trees located within, where oak canopy coverage of the area is at least 25 percent. Stands of oaks less than one acre in size may also be considered priority habitat when found to be particularly valuable to fish and wildlife (i.e., they contain many cavities, have a large diameter at breast height (dbh), are used by priority species, or have a large canopy).“
Shoreline Master Program– Provides for the management and protection of the state’s shoreline
resources located in the City of Lakewood.
Tree Removal Information
Tree removal permits are required for any tree to be removed on a property that is not exempt from the tree preservation regulations, the critical areas ordinance or the shoreline master program. If your property is located in a critical area or shoreline jurisdiction, please contact our permitting department at per[email protected]
Through February 28, 2023: Single-family residential lots under 17,000 square feet are exempt from tree preservation regulations. No permit is required for a single-family residential lot under 17,000 square feet that is not located in a critical area or shoreline jurisdiction. Industrially zoned lots are generally exempt from the tree preservation code. Tree removal permits are always required on commercial and multi-family residential lots.
|Lot Size||Maximum number of significant trees allowed to be removed in 1 year without a permit||Maximum number of significant trees allowed to be removed in 5 years without a permit|
|Lots up to 17,000 sq. ft.||N/A||N/A|
|Lots 17,001 to 30,000 sq. ft.||2||4|
|Lots 30,001 sq. ft. or greater||4||8|
Starting March 1, 2023: Single-family lots over 10,000 square feet, multifamily, and non-residential lots need a tree removal permit for removal of significant trees.
Significant trees are defined as:
- Evergreen trees and deciduous trees with a minimum diameter of nine (9) inches when measured at four and one-half (4.5) feet above ground.
- Oregon white oaks (also known as Garry oaks) with a minimum diameter of four (4) inches when measured at four and one-half (4.5) feet above ground.
- Regardless of the tree diameter, is determined to be significant by the Director due to the uniqueness of the species or provision of important wildlife habitat.
Significant trees on existing single-family lots may be removed with a tree removal permit and without tree replacement, except Oregon white oaks (see Ordinance 775, LMC 18A.70.330), based on the following:
|Maximum Tree Removal on Existing Single-Family Lots|
|Lot Size||Maximum number of significant trees allowed to be removed in 1 year||Maximum number of significant trees allowed to be removed in 5 years|
|*Lots up to 10,000 sq. ft.||N/A||N/A|
|Lots 10,001 to 30,000 sq. ft.||2||4|
|Lots 30,001 sq. ft. or greater||4||8|
|*LMC 18A.70.310(A) states that single-family lots up to 10,000 sq. ft. are exempted from tree preservation requirements.|
To find out the exact size of your lot, visit the City’s interactive GIS
To apply for a tree removal permit please visit the City’s online permitting dashboard and select “apply online”. Tree removal permits are Land Use/ Environmental Permit applications, forms are available on the Development Services page.
How to Report Illegal Tree Removal
All recent permitting activity can be found on the City’s online permitting dashboard. Once on the dashboard, you can select “permit search” to verify if a permit has been received. Tree removal permits are not always required on lots zoned residential or industrial.