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Trees / Urban Forest Management

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Tree Trimming and Urban Forestry Management in the City of Vista

Trees are one of Vista’s major communal assets. They add natural character and beauty, as well as create an environment beneficial to all. Just as streets, sidewalks, sewers, public buildings and recreational facilities are major assets to the community, so are the trees lining Vista’s roads and planted in medians, parks and on other public properties.

The City of Vista has about 19,000 trees with around 6,000 of these planted on City owned property, including street medians, parks, open spaces and at public facilities. The remaining balance can be found lining main and arterial roads or are privately owned trees that were planted in the public right-of-way portion of many parcels during the development phase of home building projects.

Managing Privately Owned Trees in the Public Right of Way

Privately owned trees are the responsibility of the private property owner unless otherwise determined by way of fee and title ownership, dedication and/or a City owned easement. The Public Works Department responds to calls when branches fall from a tree in front of homes adjacent to a street or when a tree has died. In response, a certified arborist visits the property to determine the condition of the tree. If a fallen branch is removed from the road by City crews for public safety reasons, the disposal of the debris is the responsibility of the property owner. If the tree is in decline and will likely die, the property owner is notified and it is the property owner’s financial responsibility to remove the tree (Vista Municipal Code Section 19.24.140). 

Private property owners who own property adjacent to a public road are also presumed to own the trees that are planted in the right-of-way. When a private tree becomes a public nuisance, the property owners are responsible for taking action (i.e. root pruning, trimming, branch, or tree removal) in the interest of public safety.

Do I need a permit to remove a tree?

Residents are reminded that trees located within the public right-of-way require a “no-fee tree removal” permit. 

Interested in planting your own tree? Vista recommends planting these trees which will not damage or lift sidewalks, curbs, or gutters.

Trimming Privately Owned Trees in the Public Right of Way

Because trees are growing, interfacing and maturing in urban communities, intermittent trimming, inspections and other types of services are essential to maintaining a robust tree population. The City performs cyclical trimming of private trees planted in the right-of-way and the funding used to help pay for this service is a nominal fee collected through property tax “Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District” assessments. Using both City and contract resources, the Public Works Department oversees the management of these trees.


Public Works
P: 760.643.5467

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