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Tree Trimming Regulations

Updated February 2, 2021

Introduction | Required Permit for Pruning | Tree Pruning Permit Process | Additional Tips and Information

Properly trimmed tree

Proper tree trimming techniques maintain healthy trees which release clean air into the environment. Proper techniques include removing no more than 25% of a tree.

Improperly trimmed tree with "topping"

Improper tree trimming techniques cause trees to become weak, creating a potential safety hazard.


A tree pruning permit is required before pruning or trimming trees on commercial property in Cerritos. The permit process helps manage the local urban forest and prohibits the improper maintenance of trees on commercial properties within the City.

Over the years, some local businesses have “topped” their trees as a means of cutting maintenance costs. (“Topping” trees involves chopping branches severely to reduce the tree’s size). Topping gives trees ugly stumps and raw cuts that invite insects and disease. Topping also starves trees by robbing them of their food-making ability, which will cause most of them to quickly grow ugly, brushy regrowth that requires frequent trimming. “False limbs” (branches with weak connections that can easily break) may also grow out of topped trees.

The City ordinance requires a tree pruning permit for any entity wishing to prune or trim trees within commercial, industrial and multi-family zoned areas, as well as common areas within all residential developments that are governed by homeowners associations. When an entity requests a tree trimming permit, the City will send a certified arborist to meet with the tree trimmer to explain proper tree-trimming techniques.

Required Permit for Pruning

A tree pruning permit issued by the City of Cerritos Public Works Department is required for the following landscape and tree maintenance activities on commercial properties:

  • Pruning of trees
  • Thinning of trees
  • Trimming of trees
  • Maintenance of trees

A permit is required for tree pruning on the following properties:

  • Commercial Properties
  • Industrial Properties
  • Apartment and Condominium Properties
  • Common areas of Residential Homeowners Associations

Tree Pruning Permit Process

The property owner or property management company of commercial properties in Cerritos (as described in the highlighted box) must obtain a tree pruning permit prior to any tree maintenance activities. Tree pruning permits can be obtained at the Public Works Department located at Cerritos City Hall, 18125 Bloomfield Avenue. The tree pruning permit process follows:

  1. The landscape maintenance company hired to trim the trees must obtain a Cerritos business license.
  2. Obtain a Tree Pruning Permit from the Public Works Department at least five business days prior to the scheduled start of work.
  3. Schedule an on-site pre-inspection with a City representative.
  4. Schedule an on-site post-inspection with a City representative upon completion of tree maintenance activities.

Penalties will be imposed for improper tree trimming activities pursuant to Chapter 9.75 of the Cerritos Municipal Code. Penalties may include monetary fines based on the value of improperly maintained trees and/or a misdemeanor offense.

Additional Tips and Information

The following signs are not allowed in Cerritos:

  • Trees provide environmental benefits to the community.
  • Trees should be properly maintained to extend the life of the trees.
  • Trees should be provided with an adequate water supply.
  • Any suspected tree hazards or need for maintenance of any City tree should be reported to the Public Works Department.
  • Topping, heading back, stubbing, or pollarding of any trees on commercial properties within Cerritos is prohibited.
  • Tree trimming violators should be reported to the Public Works Department.

Other tree maintenance and pruning resources include:

For questions regarding landscape maintenance or tree trimming requirements, including the tree pruning permit process, please contact: City of Cerritos Public Works Department at (562) 916-1220.

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