Thanks for your question. To be frank, there's not (to my knowledge) any requirement by any city to remove a tree from a property when building. More often, the city requires that a tree "remain" on the building site, and that developers or homeowners work "around" the tree rather than remove it. If, however, the building permit in question was obtained by a previous owner and the owner specified removal of a tree as part of the building permit (a request that is often "bundled" with building permits), then talk with the planning department if you wish to keep the tree as part of the new build. There may have been a reason--from an architectural and access standpoint--that required that the tree be removed, but if this can be resolved with the City, chances are high that you can keep the tree if you wish.
Talk with the City as they are the ultimate decision makers in all things related to the building permits and land use requirements.
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There is no law that encourages cutting of trees, when building a new house.
One needs to get permission, and come up with a replacement tree plan.
Sunnyvale requires that you get a permit to remove any protected tree (38" diameter):
https://ecityhall.sunnyvale.ca.gov/cdpl/tree.aspx Every city has their own requirements.
When putting in underground pipes and wiring the city may require that you take specific measures to minimize the damage to the roots of a protected tree. They may also limit how much paving can be put near the tree.
Another generally small factor to consider is that the cost of your homeowners insurance may vary depending upon whether the tree hangs over your house.
In our warm climate the shade a tree provides can keep your house and yard much more pleasant in the summer. The difference can be enough that you won't need air conditioning.
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The planning department will determine what happens to the tress on a lot when a home is being built. They try to take into account how large the roots will grow and what that could do to the foundation. If the tree is a large Heritage tree that will obviously not be safe for a homes foundation the tree does not get cut, but rather the house does not get built there. If it is a smaller or less "protected" tree sometimes the city will let the tree be moved or cut down and another tree planted someplace else on the property.
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In Sunnyvale, a Tree Removal Permit is required to remove any "protected tree" on private property and costs $259.50.
A protected tree is:
â€¢ Any single trunk tree 38 inches or greater in circumference
â€¢ Any multi-trunk tree which has at least one trunk 38 inches or greater in circumference OR where the measurements of the multi-trunks added together equal at least 113 inches
The circumference of the tree is measured 4.5 feet above the ground.
Removal or damage of any protected tree without an approved permit is unlawful and can result in fines or penalties.
Removal of street trees, those in the parkway strip or public right-of-way, requires approval from the Trees and Landscape Division of the Department of Public Works. For further information, please contact the Trees and Landscape Division at (408) 730-7506.
Recently a church in Redlands, CA cut down a couple of trees that they claimed were diseased without getting the proper permits & they ended up agreeing to pay an $80,000 fine (You read that right: an 8 with four zero's!).
Of course, since you are building & it sounds as though you may be building around a tree be sure not to attract any unwanted publicity such as this church:
Most Cities have a TREE ORDINANCE. You need to check with the City you are building in re the Tree you may need/want to cut down..........they can send an arborist, you may also need to take a Permit to do so........If you just go ahead and Cut a tree down, you can face fines, sometimes quite hefty! City Inspectors will be paying frequent visits to the property for every step of building.... If the tree is Beautiful, try to keep it, trees are an asset to a property...........
Happy Building, be well and safe,
Never heard of a law; however, the security of life and property coupled with common sense should dictate the proper action, or non-action as it were.
Most trees, depending on their species and amount of maintenance involved, are a beautiful asset; nonetheless, trees of any species can become a liability if they are in close proximity to a homeâ€™s foundation.