Mountain View’s dedication to the preservation of trees dates back to 1960 when the City Council introduced the first ordinance establishing tree care services. In 1961 a Street Tree Ordinance was adopted, and in 1975 a Heritage Tree Ordinance. In 1993 the city got its first tree inventory, and transitioned to using Treekeeper as the online database to track all the work being done on public trees.
In 2006, a nonprofit organization called Mountain View Trees was formed. It was composed of residents and volunteers on a mission to supplement the City’s efforts and to “sustain and enhance the trees of Mountain View through community stewardship, education and advocacy.” In 2013 consultants completed a tree canopy assessment, which mapped the location and extent of overall canopy (public and private) across the City. It informed a resource analysis that expounded the composition, benefits, and value of the city’s trees.
On September 15, 2015, Mountain View’s first ever comprehensive Community Tree Master Plan (CTMP) was formally adopted by the City Council. The purpose of the CTMP is to provide a guide for managing, enhancing and growing Mountain View’s tree canopy over the next 10 to 15 years. Goals include increasing canopy cover by five percentage points from 17.7 to 22.7% by planting 11,000 additional trees, adopting new parking lot shade goals, implementing forestry practices that protect wildlife, and increasing outreach and awareness regarding the benefits of trees.
A more thorough history and timeline can be found on pages 12-13 of the CTMP.
In January 2019 Canopy presented the Arnold Soforenko Award to Mountain View Trees, thanking them for their efforts in and contribution to sustaining and enhancing the urban forest in Mountain View since 2006. It was at this time that they “merged” with Canopy, and now Canopy serves at the nonprofit organization for Mountain View’s urban forest activities.
Through this merger Canopy has been able to expand our efforts in tree planting and stewardship, education, and advocacy across the city. Working with the City of Mountain View, Canopy engages volunteers in tree planting trees in parks and at schools, and subsequently cares for the trees. Educating the community about trees and urban forestry often takes place during Community Forestry School, Tree Walks, and special events like tree talks.
Check out Canopy’s online event calendar to see if there are any events or volunteer opportunities happening in Mountain View.
Trees growing on public property or in a street right-of-way are city-owned (public) trees.
Heritage Trees, even if they are on private property, are trees protected by the City of Mountain View and are subject to city regulations.
Residents are responsible for trees growing on their own private property, or privately-owned trees.
The Forestry and Roadway Landscape Division is responsible for the management of community trees. In addition to street trees, the Division maintains trees at 39 urban parks and along nine miles of trails on Stevens Creek, Permanente Creek, Hetch-Hetchy, Bay, and the Transit-Oriented Development Trails.
Street tree information can be found on the City website here.
Detailed FAQs about Street trees are on the City website here. (Street tree drop-down).
Call the Forestry Division to request a tree. Staff will evaluate your property to see if there is appropriate planting space. Considerations for planting include spacing, proximity to sewer, gas and water service lines, as well as proximity to sidewalks, driveways, streetlights, etc. Street tree planting is typically scheduled in the fall.
Street trees are planted in two locations along city streets. Some are planted in the “parking strip,” the open space that runs between the curb and the sidewalk. Where a parking strip doesn’t exist, street trees are planted within the public right-of-way behind the sidewalk (in the front yard of the property owner), typically within 5 feet of the sidewalk. If you are unsure if a tree is a street tree, contact the Forestry Division at (650) 903-6273 or by email at [email protected]. Staff will visit your location to make a determination.
Please contact the Forestry Division at (650) 903-6273 or by email at [email protected]. Staff will be happy to provide information on your street tree or make a site visit to evaluate the tree.
Street trees planted in Mountain View are owned by the property owner. The city has the authority to plant, prune or remove street trees. However this does not affect ownership or liability. Information on street trees may be found in the City Code, Chapter 32 Trees, Shrubs and Plants, Article 1.
The property owner is responsible for watering young street trees. The first two years are critical and the tree will need to be watered weekly from spring through fall (during the dry season).
The property owner is responsible for damage caused by tree roots and for mitigating root issues on private property. The city may repair damage caused by roots to public improvements such as sidewalk, curb and gutter.
In most cases, no. Typically, only trees that are dead, dying or structurally unsound will be removed. Contact the Forestry Division at (650) 903-6273 or by email at [email protected] if you would like your tree evaluated for replacement.
Forestry staff are also responsible for the administration and enforcement of the City’s Heritage Tree Ordinance for residential and nondevelopment applications.
Detailed FAQs about Heritage trees are on the City website here.
Mountain View’s City Code Chapter 32, Article II, defines a “Heritage Tree” as any tree that has a trunk with a circumference of forty-eight inches (48″) or more measured at fifty-four inches (54″) above natural grade. Multi-trunk trees are measured just below the first major trunk fork. Three species, quercus (oak), sequoia (redwood) or cedrus (cedar) are considered “Heritage” if they have a circumference of twelve inches (12″) measured at fifty-four inches (54″) above natural grade.
Mountain View’s ordinance states that if you own or control property in the City, you are responsible for maintaining and preserving all Heritage trees in a state of good health. It is against the City ordinance to willfully injure, damage, destroy, move or remove a Heritage tree unless granted a removal permit by the City.
Any Heritage Tree(s) proposed for removal require a removal permit, which is issued by the Community Services Department’s Forestry and Roadway Division if the property is a single family home or multi-family up to 4 units. All other properties, including multi-family over 4 units, commercial, industrial, etc are processed by the Community Development Department’s Planning Division.
You can obtain an “Application for Heritage Tree Removal Permit” by following the steps on the City website.
Private property trees are owned and maintained by the owner, resident, and/or tenant. The City does not manage or regulate private trees unless it is a Heritage tree.
If you need a tree report, removal, pruning, or consultation, we recommend hiring a Certified Arborist. Learn more here: Hiring an Arborist
If you are interested in planting trees, you can learn more here: How to select and plant trees
If you need tips for how to manage your trees, you can learn more here: Caring for trees