Chapter 12.21


12.21.010    Purpose.

12.21.020    Definitions.

12.21.030    Abutting owner’s responsibility.

12.21.040    Appointment of municipal arborist/duties.

12.21.050    Permit required/application.

12.21.060    Permit exceptions.

12.21.070    Street tree care.

12.21.080    Public tree care.

12.21.090    Summary powers for removal of nuisance trees.

12.21.100    Spacing and species requirements.

12.21.110    Tree topping.

12.21.120    Pruning, corner clearance.

12.21.130    Removal required – When.

12.21.140    Stump removal required – When.

12.21.150    Maintenance required – When.

12.21.160    Abuse of trees prohibited.

12.21.170    Interference with city.

12.21.180    Emergency tree maintenance.

12.21.190    City liability.

12.21.200    Appeal.

12.21.210    Violation – Penalties.

12.21.010 Purpose.

In order to reduce stormwater runoff, stabilize soil, enhance the ecological environment, improve property values, and enhance the general aesthetics and welfare of the community, the preservation, protection, and planting of trees is deemed to be a desirable goal of the community. (Ord. 2607 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.020 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words, and their derivations shall have the meanings given herein:

A. “Abutting property” means real property having lines in common with adjacent property or separated only by public right-of-way.

B. “City” means the city of Enumclaw, Washington.

C. “City council” means city council of the city of Enumclaw, Washington.

D. “Emergency” means damage to utility lines, or to public or private property, due to storm or other acts of God or other accidents which require immediate attention to alleviate the condition or commence and complete repairs.

E. “Low impact development,” see EMC 14.10.025.

F. “Owner” means any person, firm, association, syndicate, copartnership, or corporation having proprietary interest, dominion, or title to the real property.

G. “Person” means any individual, partnership, joint venture, society, association, club, trustee, company, firm or corporation; or any officers, agents, employees, or any personal representatives of any thereof, in any capacity, acting either for himself, or any other person, under either personal appointment or pursuant to law.

H. “Public right-of-way” means property owned or controlled through dedication, easement, or other legal instrument; and including those platted portions of subdivisions used for the purposes of a street or alley that may or may not be approved for vehicular and/or pedestrian use.

I. “Removal” means the act of cutting down or removing any tree or shrub from the public right-of-way.

J. “Replacement tree” means a tree of equal size to the tree that has been removed or a one-and-one-half or two-inch breast height diameter (BHD) for shade trees, or one-inch or equivalent for flowering ornamentals, or as may be provided to the abutting property owner by the city.

K. “Routine care” means the act of watering, fertilizing, applying pesticides, and pruning of trees or shrubs; provided, that pruning be limited to the removal of limbs one inch in diameter or smaller on small trees and two inches in diameter or smaller on medium and large trees.

L. “Street tree” means trees, shrubs, bushes, and all other woody vegetation located in or overhanging any public right-of-way within the city.

M. “Topping” means the severe cutting back of limbs leaving stubs beyond the branch collar within the tree’s crown or to such a degree as to remove a substantial portion of the normal canopy and disfigure the tree. (Ord. 2607 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.030 Abutting owner’s responsibility.

It shall be the duty of any person owning real property abutting public right-of-way in the city to maintain such trees and/or shrubs located in the public right-of-way in such a manner that they will not constitute a hazard to other trees in the community by harboring detrimental insects or disease organisms nor constitute a public nuisance in violation of Chapter 12.21 EMC. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.040 Appointment of municipal arborist/duties.

A. The municipal arborist for the city shall be the city’s community development director.

B. The municipal arborist shall have full authority and jurisdiction to enforce this chapter and any other rules and regulations as adopted by the city council, regarding planting, maintenance, removal and bracing of trees and shrubs in the public right-of-way in the city. He/she shall have authority to accept applications for the issuance of permits for the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees in the public right-of-way, to ensure safety, and preserve the aesthetics of the trees and shrubs. The municipal arborist of the city or his/her designee shall inspect all work to be done under a permit issued in accordance with the terms of this chapter. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.050 Permit required/application.

A. Except for routine care, maintenance, or stump removal, no person shall plant, remove or otherwise disturb any tree or shrub located within or overhanging any public right-of-way within the city without first filing an application for and procuring a permit from the municipal arborist. Landscaping required via development permits shall be deemed to satisfy this section.

B. Applications for permits must be made through the municipal arborist not less than 72 hours in advance of the time the work is to be done.

C. The municipal arborist shall authorize the issuance of a permit for removal if in his judgment the tree(s) in question is (are) dead, diseased or deemed to be hazardous for other reasons. The municipal arborist may also authorize the issuance of a permit if in his judgment the tree(s) in question would benefit from certain horticultural practices to regain its appearance or vigor after suffering from previous improper horticultural practices, or storm, or mechanical damage. The municipal arborist shall determine that the proposed workmanship and method are satisfactory prior to the issuance of any permits. All permits granted shall contain a definite date of expiration, and work authorized by said permit shall be completed within the time specified and in the manner therein described. The issuance of a permit under this chapter does not reduce the owner’s responsibility to comply with permits required in other chapters of this code. Any permit shall be void if any of its terms are violated. Notice of completion of work authorized shall be given within five days to the municipal arborist for his inspection.

D. The application required herein shall be formulated by the municipal arborist and include, but not be limited to the following information: name and address of applicant; owner designation; description and purpose of the work to be performed; area diagram and designation of street trees to be treated or removed; and any other additional information as the municipal arborist may require in order to make a reasonable determination of whether or not to issue said permit.

E. Persons other than the abutting property owner who perform maintenance work shall notify the municipal arborist in writing or by telephone prior to performing the work, providing the property owner’s name and address of the work, and shall abide by the terms of this chapter.

F. As a condition to the granting of a tree removal permit, the city may require the applicant to relocate or replace trees. Any relocation or replacement must occur within six months of the date of permit issuance.

G. Any permit issued pursuant to this chapter shall expire upon the designated expiration date not to exceed 12 months from date of issuance, and any permit may be revoked at any time because of incorrect information submitted on the application.

H. Any fees for the processing of applications or permits required in this chapter shall be established by action of the city council. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.060 Permit exceptions.

A. The provisions of Chapter 12.21 EMC shall not apply to:

1. Removal of any tree from a developed single-family residential property.

2. Removal of tree(s) from a single-family residential lot in accordance with a tree retention plan approved in connection with subdivision or short subdivision approval shall be considered incidental to the building permit and not require a tree removal permit.

B. A tree removal permit is not required for the following situations:

1. The removal of trees from commercial or horticultural properties such as farms, nurseries, orchards or commercial forests. This exception shall not be interpreted to include timber harvesting incidental to imminent development of the land.

2. The removal of trees on public rights-of-way conducted by or on behalf of a federal, state, county, municipal or other governmental agency in pursuance of its lawful activities or functions in the construction, improvement or maintenance of public rights-of-way.

3. The removal of any tree which has become or threatens to become a danger to human life; or to cause damage to property.

4. Any tree in the category “prohibited street trees” contained in Table 1 of this chapter; provided, no person shall remove trees excepted from the provisions of this chapter set forth in this subsection B, until such time as such person has given written notice to the city of the trees to be removed. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.070 Street tree care.

In consideration of the value and benefits derived from the beauty and enjoyment of the street trees, the property owners abutting dedicated rights-of-way and utility easements, shall have the responsibility, control, and shall bear the cost of maintenance and care of the street trees abutting their property, and shall regularly inspect and remove defective conditions as necessary. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.080 Public tree care.

A. The city may plant, prune, maintain and remove park and street trees, as may be necessary to ensure public safety, or to preserve or enhance the appearance of public lands. The city may remove, or cause to be removed, at the expense of the abutting land owner, a tree or part of a tree which is in an unsafe condition, which by reason of its nature is injurious to public water lines, private sewers, electric lines, telephone lines, gas lines, or other public improvements.

B. This section does not prohibit the planting of street trees by abutting property owners, providing that the selection, location, and planting of such trees is in accordance with the list of acceptable species included in Table 1 and the other sections of this chapter. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.090 Summary powers for removal of nuisance trees.

A. The city may prune a private tree when it interferes with the proper spread of light along the street from a street light, or interferes with the visibility of any traffic control device or sign.

B. The city may cause the removal of all or part of any dead, dangerous or diseased park, private or street tree when the tree constitutes a hazard to life, property, or harbors insects or disease which constitutes a potential threat to other trees within the city.

C. The city may remove or trim a tree described as a hazard or nuisance in this section or may require the property owner to remove or trim any such tree on private property, or in a dedicated right-of-way or utility easement abutting upon the owner’s property. Failure of the property owner to remove or trim the tree within 30 days after receiving notice from the municipal arborist is a violation of this chapter, and the city may then remove or trim the tree and assess the costs as a lien against the property as per RCW 35.21.310. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.100 Spacing and species requirements.

A. General Provisions. The spacing and selection of street trees will be in accordance with the recommended street tree list contained in Table 1. No trees may be planted closer together than the following: small trees, 20 feet; medium trees, 30 feet; and large trees, 40 feet; except in special plantings designed or approved by the municipal arborist or the design review board.

B. Distance from Curb and Sidewalk. The distance trees may be planted from curbs or curb lines and sidewalks will be in accordance with the three tree size classes above; and no trees may be planted closer to any curb or sidewalk than the following: small trees, two feet; medium trees, three feet; and large trees, four feet. On streets that do not have curbs and/or sidewalks or planters designed for public tree placement, the municipal arborist shall approve the location of new trees consistent with street and sidewalk construction standards.

C. Distance from Street Corners and Fire Hydrants. No street tree shall be planted closer than 20 feet from any street corner, measured from the nearest intersection curb or curbline point. No street tree shall be planted closer than 20 feet from any fire hydrant. Other landscape regulations regarding site screening are contained in EMC 18.70.020(I) and (K).

D. Utilities. No street tree other than small trees may be planted under or within 10 lateral feet of any overhead utility wire, or over or within five lateral feet of any underground water line, transmission line or other utility. (Ord. 2607 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.110 Tree topping.

It is unlawful for any person or city department to top any street tree, park tree, or other tree on public property. Trees severely damaged by storms or other causes, or certain trees under utility wires or other obstructions where other pruning practices are impractical may be exempted from this chapter at the determination of the municipal arborist. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.120 Pruning, corner clearance.

Every owner of any tree overhanging any street or public right-of-way within the city shall prune the branches so that such branches shall not obstruct the light from any street lamp or obstruct the view of any street intersection and so that there shall be a clear space of eight feet above the sidewalk and 14 feet above the street. The owners shall remove all dead, diseased or dangerous trees, or broken or decayed limbs which constitute a menace to the safety of the public. The city shall have the right, subject to the applicable procedures set forth in EMC 12.21.040 to prune any tree or shrub on private property at the owner’s cost (which costs shall be assessed as a lien against the property as per RCW 35.21.310) when it interferes with the proper spread of light along the street from a street light or interferes with the driver’s view of a street intersection, or the visibility of any traffic control device or sign, or is hazardous to underground or overhead utility lines or encroaches on sidewalk or pedestrian rights-of-way. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.130 Removal required – When.

A. Whenever it is necessary to remove a tree or shrub from the public right-of-way within the city due to disease, damage (storm or mechanical), or other reasons deemed to be hazardous by the municipal arborist, the abutting property owner or the city at its option, shall be responsible for and shall bear the cost of removing the tree or shrub.

B. Any tree(s) diseased or damaged or determined to be hazardous by the municipal arborist in the public right-of-way shall be declared a nuisance. Should the abutting property owner refuse for whatever reasons to abate said nuisance, the municipal arborist shall cause the nuisance to be abated and charged to the abutting property owner in accordance with city code and in compliance with RCW 35.21.310.

C. Whenever it is necessary to remove a tree or shrub from the public right-of-way in the city due to installation or realignment of a sidewalk, the paving, repaving, and/or widening of a street used for vehicular, pedestrian, or bicycle traffic, the city or contractor shall be responsible and shall bear the cost of the replanting of such trees that have been removed.

D. The removal of any tree(s) that is part of a low impact development facility shall require approval from the city engineer. (Ord. 2607 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.140 Stump removal required – When.

When any tree or shrub is removed from the public right-of-way, the stump of said tree or shrub shall be completely removed. The municipal arborist may authorize the grinding of the stump to a depth of one foot below the surrounding average finished grade. In any case, adequate good quality topsoil shall be used to fill the hole created by the removal of said stump. Provisions shall be taken to accommodate settling of the topsoil. Sod, grass seed, or other satisfactory ground cover shall be placed and maintained on the site of the removed or ground stump. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.150 Maintenance required – When.

It shall be the duty of any person owning real property abutting public right-of-way in the city to maintain such trees and/or shrubs located in the public right-of-way in such a manner that they will not constitute a hazard, obstruct the passage of pedestrians on sidewalks, obstruct visibility of traffic signs, obstruct vehicular movement on streets, or obstruct free and clear vision at any intersection. Trees or shrubs located upon or overhanging the public right-of-way and impeding passage or constituting an obstruction of visibility shall be deemed a public nuisance and shall be trimmed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, EMC 18.34.020, or Chapter 12.20 EMC. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.160 Abuse of trees prohibited.

No person shall abuse, destroy or mutilate any street tree, in a dedicated public right-of-way, or any other public place, or attach or place any rope or wire (other than one used to support the tree itself), sign, poster, handbill, or other thing to, or on any tree growing in a public place, or cause or permit any wire charged with electricity with the exception of decorative lights for a period not exceeding 45 days per year to come into contact with any such tree, or to allow any gaseous liquid, or solid substance which is harmful to such trees to come into contact with their roots or leaves. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.170 Interference with city.

No person shall prevent, delay or interfere with the city or any of its agents, while engaging in the planting, cultivating, mulching, pruning, spraying, or removal of any street trees, park trees, or private trees as authorized by this chapter. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.180 Emergency tree maintenance.

Emergency tree maintenance procedures are authorized to be performed by utility companies, contractors, abutting property owners and by the city, when necessary, due to unforeseen circumstances or conditions that impose an immediate threat to utility systems, public or private property, or the welfare of persons residing or traveling near the tree in question. Only the work required to remove the immediate threat shall be performed. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.190 City liability.

The city’s right to trim, prune or remove privately owned trees under this chapter shall not be interpreted as an obligation upon the city, and the city’s failure to act shall not constitute a basis for any claim of liability against the city. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.200 Appeal.

Any person aggrieved or dissatisfied with any order of the municipal arborist may appeal said order to the city board of adjustment by filing a written notice of appeal with the community development director not more than 15 days after the date of the order issued by the municipal arborist. Said written appeal should state the nature of the dissatisfaction, the type of work desired to be done, the reasons why the aggrieved or dissatisfied person feels the work should be completed, and the relief requested. Said appeal shall be considered at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the city board of adjustment, and its decision shall become effective immediately and shall be final and conclusive. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).

12.21.210 Violation – Penalties.

Any person, firm or corporation responsible for removing a street tree or park tree without the approval of the municipal arborist, or under an exemption hereunder, shall pay the full value, as determined by the municipal arborist, of the tree that was removed, to the city to be dedicated to the maintenance and replacement of street trees. Said replacement is in addition to any penalty provisions in this chapter. Any person, firm or corporation violating any provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction or a plea of guilty, be subject to a fine of not more than $500.00. All fines collected shall be set aside for the planting, maintenance, and enhancement of street and park trees. The foregoing penalty provisions hereof shall be in addition to any remedies provided by laws of the state. (Ord. 1720 § 1, 1992).


Prohibited Street Trees


Bigleaf maple

Black locust


Lombardy poplar

Oregon maple

Silver maple

Non-recommended Street Trees

Apples (fruiting apples)

Ash (Mountain ash)

Birch (White birch, etc.)

Cherries (fruiting cherries)

Elm (American elm, etc.)


London Plane

Oak (Pin oak)

Pagoda tree

Pears (fruiting pears)

Plums (fruiting plums)



Walnut (Black walnut, etc.)

Recommended Small or Narrow Street Trees (minimum spacing: 20 feet)

Ash (flowering ash)

Cherry (Autumnalis cherry, etc.)

Laurel (California laurel)

Magnolia (Evergreen magnolia)

Myrtle (Oregon myrtle)

Oak (Holly oak)

Pear (Bradford pear)

Recommended Medium Size Street Trees (minimum spacing: 30 feet)

Ash (Flame, Golden Desert, etc.)

Birch (Paper birch, River birch)

Crabapples (flowering crabapples)

Gum (Sweet gum)

Honey locust

Linden (Littleleaf linden)

Maple (Red maple)

Maple (Sugar maple)

Oak (Scarlet oak, English oak)

Redwood (Dawn redwood)


Village green

Recommended Large Boulevard Trees (minimum spacing: 40 feet)

Beech (European beech, etc.)

Chestnuts (Chinese chestnuts)

Maidenhair tree

Sycamore maple

Oak (Red oaks)

Tulip tree

(Ord. 2607 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017).