Tree Maintenance & Preservation
Trees are important features of Chino Hills’ natural environment. Trees provide beauty and shade, support wildlife in our community, reduce erosion, provide a habitat for animals, and add property value. The City logo features the California Live Oak, which is a protected native tree.
Trees on City Property
The Parks and Open Space staff is responsible for the maintenance of over 47,500 City-owned trees located on publicly maintained land throughout the community. Trees are a valuable asset because they provide shade, deflect the wind, clean the air, reduce noise levels, and tremendously enhance the appearance of our neighborhoods.
Chino Hills is dedicated to preserving trees because of their inherent value. Trees are trimmed in conformance with the International Society of Arboriculture Standards to enhance the health and integrity of our City’s trees. Trees are trimmed dependent upon need, health, location, and what is recommended for the specific species of tree.
Trees are not trimmed or removed due to:
- Leaf litter
- Protect a homeowner’s view from their property
- Personal preference
The City of Chino Hills has certified Arborists on staff. It’s important to note that most trees located between the sidewalk and curb in the parkway or in the public right-of-way, are public trees and can only be trimmed by the City. If a resident has a concern about a tree for safety reasons, or they believe a tree is diseased or needs general trimming, they may contact the Public Works Department. If you are unsure who owns the tree it’s always best to call and ask.
It is Illegal to Chop Down City Trees in Open Space Areas, on Slopes and Parkways, or in Parks
Did you know it is illegal to chop down trees or cut branches off City trees on the City’s community-owned open space? Cutting down or trimming a tree that you do not own is against the law, in fact, the crime could rise to the level of a felony depending upon the value of the trees!
Chopping down a tree or trimming a tree on City property is considered destruction of City property. Residents are prohibited from “pruning, spraying, trimming, or removing any existing plant material within the public open space” according to Chapter 12.24 – Encroachments of the Chino Hills Municipal Code (CHMC). CHMC Section 12.26.100 establishes that cutting, breaking, defacing, or damaging a City tree in any manner whatsoever is prohibited. Residents that are found guilty of removing or damaging trees are also subject to charges of destruction of public property and may be required to make restitution.
Trees on Private Property
Tree Regulations Protect Native Trees on Private Property in Some Areas
Additional protection is also afforded to certain species of trees and certain mature trees on private property within the City. Chapter 16.90 – Tree Preservation establishes policies to maintain and protect certain trees in certain locations within the City.
For developed properties, the Tree Preservation Ordinance, adopted in 2013, extended protection to native trees on private property that is within the designated Fire Hazard Overlay District, and visible to the public. Generally, neighborhoods in Carbon Canyon including Summit Ranch, Carriage Hills, Oak Tree Downs, Western Hills, Canon Lane, Pine Valley Estates, and Sleepy Hollow are subject to the regulations. The Ridgegate neighborhood on Soquel Canyon Parkway and Pipeline Avenue, and the Vellano community are also included. Protected native species include the California Sycamore, California Live Oak, California Black Walnut, and Coastal Scrub Oak.
For new development, the Tree Preservation Ordinance also protects heritage trees, which have a diameter of 44 inches or greater. Invasive trees such as the Eucalyptus Blue Gum are not protected.
Native Species are Fire-Resistant
The protected native trees provide a benefit to the community beyond aesthetics. These tree species are considered fire resistant because they do not readily ignite during a fire. They are not fire-proof, they can be damaged or destroyed by fire. However, their foliage and stems do not significantly contribute fuel for the fire. These trees can help provide property owners with a defensible space because of their fire-resistant characteristics. Their leaves are moist and supple, they have little dead wood, and their sap is like water. Native trees generally do not contribute to the intensity of a fire.
Trees that are visible to the public, and four inches in diameter when measured at a height of 4 ½ feet from the ground, are subject to these rules. Backyard trees that are not visible to the public are not included. Generally, the four native tree species - California Sycamore, California Live Oak, California Black Walnut, and Coastal Scrub Oak - may not be removed, except in specific cases, such as when a tree is located in the area of a planned addition to the home or presents a safety hazard.
The property owner must contact the Community Development Department to secure the proper permit to remove a protected tree. A Tree and Plant Removal Application is required when it has been deemed necessary to replace, relocate, or remove native trees or heritage trees.
Property owners planning to prune protected trees must follow the tree pruning standards of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Please call the Community Development Department at 909-364-2740 for specific information about the tree regulations and whether they apply to native trees or heritage trees on your property.
Tree City USA Designation
The City of Chino Hills is recognized and has officially received a "Tree City USA" designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation which reflects the City’s commitment to our urban forest. Cities that receive the designation must meet four core standards of urban forestry management:
- Maintain a tree board or department
- Have a community tree ordinance
- Spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry
- Celebrate Arbor Day
Two Tree City USA roadway recognition signs have been installed at the SR-71 Chino Valley Freeway entrances located on Grand Avenue and Butterfield Ranch Road. So, when you see those signs, you should be reminded that the trees contributing greatly to this picturesque City are protected in many ways. Whether they are public or privately owned, they are part of this planned vision for Chino Hills.
Questions or Requests for Service can be directed to the Public Works Department by phone or by submitting an Online Service Request.