Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a parkway tree?
A parkway tree is a tree that was planted by Public Works or developer who built the home or building, adjacent to the edge of the roadway within the County's road easement. A parkway tree is also a tree, typically planted under a permit by the adjacent property owner, and accepted into the Public Works' tree inventory. Public Works values these trees as they play an important role in providing a healthy community.
- How often does Public Works trim parkway trees?
Parkway trees are generally trimmed by Public Works on three year (fast growth) or six year (slow growth) cycles depending on the growth rate of the tree species. Palm trees are trimmed every two years. The tree trimming is done per arboricultural standards for the health and safety of the trees and to provide vertical clearance over the sidewalk and roadway for pedestrians and motorists.
- The parkway tree in front of my house is under adjacent to overhead power lines and was recently trimmed significantly. Why was this done?
Electrical utility companies are required by the Public Utilities Commission to trim trees to provide clearance around power lines in order to prevent fires and power outages. This tree trimming is done on a separate schedule from and with a different objective than the trimming done by Public Works. For more information on tree trimming adjacent to power lines, contact your local electricity provider.
- In what situations does Public Works remove parkway trees?
Parkway trees are a precious natural resources for the County, therefore trees are generally only removed when they are dead, diseased, dying, structurally unsound, damaging property or outgrown their current space and cannot be safely root pruned to accommodate an adjacent infrastructure repair. Public safety is paramount in our decision making process. In cases where parkway trees are removed, replacement trees are generally offered to the property owner. In rare instances, space constraints between driveways, house walkways, underground utilities, meter boxes, fire hydrants, or street lights may prevent replacement trees from being planted.
- Can I remove a parkway tree?
Generally no. Parkway trees are part of the urban forest, public property that benefits the entire community. If the parkway tree in front of your residence appears to meet one of the conditions under which Public Works would remove a tree, please contact the Urban Forestry Unit that services your area. You can find their contact information through the Tree Services Locator page.
For other circumstances, you may apply for a Road Encroachment Permit to remove and replace the parkway tree in front of your residence. Please refer to the EpicLA Road Encroachment User Guide for help on submitting an application.
It is unlawful to trim, remove, or harm County parkway trees without a permit from the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works. Violators of this may be subject to fine and/or imprisonment.
- Can I plant a tree in the parkway?
Public Works encourages resident participation in the expansion and renewal of our urban forest. In order to ensure the proper species selection, planting and sustainability of the new tree, we require that all planting be coordinated with our Urban Forestry Unit. To initiate the process, please apply for a Road Encroachment Permit. Please refer to the EpicLA Road Encroachment User Guide for help on submitting an application.
- Can I plant a fruit tree in the parkway?
While Public Works encourages the planting of fruit trees on private property, we do not allow fruit trees to be planted in the public right-of-way, i.e. parkway. This restriction is in place to prevent potential hazards and other public nuisances.
- The parkway tree in front of my residence is proposed for removal as part of a street improvement project. Why does the street, sidewalk and/or curb and gutter need to be replaced?
Public Works aims to maintain healthy parkway trees along with providing safe travel for motorists and cyclists on the County roadways and safe access for pedestrians and individuals with disabilities under the Americans and Disabilities Act on County sidewalks. To accomplish this, the street pavement and concrete curb, gutter, and sidewalks are routinely maintained and periodically replaced. Because Public Works has over 2,600 miles of sidewalk, nearly 3,400 miles of curb and gutter, and over 9,500 lane miles of roadway to maintain, our choices for how to maintain the trees, the street and parkway need to be economically sustainable.
If a parkway tree is proposed for removal as part of a street improvement project, it is likely because the tree is dead, diseased, dying, structurally unsound, or cannot be safely root pruned in order to accommodate adjacent infrastructure repair or replacement. Trees removed as part of a larger road construction project typically are replaced as part of the project, if suitable space is available in the parkway and the adjacent resident agrees to care for the tree through its establishment.
- Who is responsible for the parkway tree roots in my sewer lateral?
Trees need water and nutrients in order to survive and will seek out the easiest source for both of these. Generally, when roots encounter the sewer lateral, nothing will happen because they will grow over and around the lateral. However, if there is a leak, no matter how small, tiny hair-like roots will enter the lateral and rapidly grow on the nutrient rich material. Eventually, these roots may block the lateral and back-up the system. For more information on the sewer lateral maintenance, please visit Sewer Maintenance on our website or view the Homeowner Information Brochure.
- Who should I contact if I believe my property has been damaged by a parkway tree?
If you believe that your property was damaged by a County parkway tree, the law provides specific guidelines for filing a claim with a municipality. To access the claim form and for further information, please visit County of Los Angeles - Chief Executive Office.
- Does Public Works plant trees in front of homes that do not have a parkway or sidewalk?
Yes, unless the District Tree Superintendent’s site evaluation determines the site is not suitable for a new tree. See the Tree Planting page for more information on site evaluation: Tree Planting.