Many munic­i­pal­i­ties in Penn­syl­va­nia have ordi­nances regard­ing plant­i­ng, care and removal of trees. Your munic­i­pal­i­ty may also have a shade tree com­mis­sion that over­sees the trees with­in the right of way (ROW) and parks. Some ordi­nances may require a per­mit while oth­ers pro­hib­it all trees or trees of cer­tain species from being plant­ed in some areas. If you are work­ing on plant­i­ng, prun­ing or remov­ing a street tree in your munic­i­pal­i­ty, check your local ordi­nances before you get started.

The City of Pitts­burgh has munic­i­pal code that pro­tects trees, allows for the cre­ation of the Pitts­burgh Shade Tree Com­mis­sion, and requires devel­op­ers to plant trees as part of new con­struc­tion. The Pitts­burgh Shade Tree Com­mis­sion has con­vened a com­mit­tee that is cur­rent­ly work­ing on review­ing and updat­ing the City’s code that affects trees.

A com­plete list City codes can be found here:

Chapter 483 Deals with the Care and Maintenance of Public Trees

Did you know that it is against the law to post signs /posters to trees? Or that as a street tree grows, prop­er­ty own­ers are required to increase the per­me­able area around the base of the tree? This chap­ter cov­ers these basics as well as the main­te­nance and removal respon­si­bil­i­ties of DPW.

Chapter 918 Deals with Developments and
Landscaping Requirements

For off street park­ing, one tree for every five park­ing spaces must be plant­ed. For new build­ings, a street tree must be plant­ed every 30 feet. This chap­ter out­lines many oth­er City codes that require dump­sters to be screened to how many square feet of land­scap­ing must be includ­ed around park­ing lots.

The City of Pitts­burgh does have a pro­gres­sive code when it comes to trees. Trees are a vital­ly impor­tant resource in our City and must be pro­tect­ed, pre­served and re-plant­ed as our City grows.

Chapter 485 is Titled Protection

This chap­ter out­lines pro­tec­tion mea­sures of pub­lic owned trees. The City may seek com­pen­sa­tion from any­one who dam­ages a pub­lic tree. Pro­tec­tions out­lined in this chap­ter include from con­struc­tion dam­age, exca­va­tion, gas leaks, even dam­age to trees by pets. Pets can cause lot of dam­age to trees: pet own­ers may tie their pet to a tree and cause bark and trunk dam­age; pets may climb trees, snap­ping branch­es; and pet waste does a great deal of dam­age to the soil structure/function as well as caus­es direct dam­age to the trees trunk and roots.
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