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Renewing the Urban Forest: Tree Selection & Replacement

In the event a tree needs to be replaced or added, many factors are used to determine a tree's suitability for a particular site. Santa Monica's tree selection practices work to promote diversity in species and age.  

  • Characteristics: Trunk width, height and canopy spread of mature tree
  • Surroundings: Available growspace, parkway size, builing and setback conditions, location of utilities, amount of pedestrian an vehicular activity that exists or is anticipated
  • Aesthetics: Scale, form, foliage color and texture
  • Biodiversity: Concentration of species in surrounding area

Biodiversity is key to a healthy urban forest. Those forests comprised of a few dominant species are more vulnerable to insect infestation or a disease epidemic, either of which could have severe impact to the tree population. Widespread tree failure could negatively impact air quality, reduction in storm water runoff, carbon sequestration, shading and irrigation needs, urban wildlife and aesthetics. In addition to species diversity, the age of trees within each species should be varied. Santa Monica's goal is to achieve an Urban Forest where no one species of tree dominates the forest and each species constitutes no more than 5% of the total forest.

Preserving and enhancing important view corridors, as well as annual maintenance costs, are also considered in street tree selection. Where practical, trees with large canopies will be recommended. When site conditions require trees with a smaller growth habit, the smaller sized canopies will be offset by increasing the quantities of trees planted in those areas.

When replacement is necessary, street trees will be replaced with a species appropriate for the location. In most cases, the replacement tree will be the current species. The City's Street Tree List details existing dominant species and recommended replacement species determined to-date for street segments citywide. The Street Tree List was created to help promote increased tree planting efforts. Replacement recommendations noted on the list are eligible for public review, and will be examined as part of the Urban Forest Master Planning process. Alternate species with characteristics similar to the preferred species may be identified for some street segments to allow for variety and options.

Criteria for Tree Selection > 
Renewal Program >  
Street Tree Designations List >

City of Santa Monica © 2017

Santa Monica Public Landscape Division, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | p: 310.458.8974