What Are the General Rules for Cutting Trees on Your Property?

By Wendy Wallace

The short answer: it’s complicated.

The longer answer is that you might need a permit and whether you do depends on many factors, such as zoning, lot size, tree conditions, title restrictions (some subdivisions require a minimum number or certain location of trees), and whether the lot is subject to rules regarding critical areas like streams and wetlands and rules regarding Bainbridge’s Shoreline Master Program.

Removal of dead trees often does not require a permit but only if other factors do not present complications.

For lots one acre or smaller in size, a permit is generally not needed to remove three or fewer trees but many caveats exist! Tree removal restrictions are found on the City of Bainbridge Island’s website.

Removal of hazardous trees may require a permit but have no associated fee. For non-hazardous tree removal, a permit costs $180 and can take approximately two weeks for approval, sometimes longer, so plan accordingly.

Before removing trees, homeowners should become familiar with their property, zone and geologic issues like erosion, stream buffers and steep slopes. Look up your property and identify geographic features by using the Geographic Information System map on the City’s website. After some research, give the City’s staff arborist, Nick Synder, a call (206-780-3717) for answers to your questions.

What are the general rules for cutting trees on your property?