In May of 2017, San Luis Obispo County adopted the "Oak Woodland Ordinance". This ordinance regulates the clear-cutting of oak woodlands and protects heritage oaks in the unincorporated inland portions of San Luis Obispo County, including but not limited to the Paso Robles area.

According to the Ordinance; “Clear-cut” means the removal of contiguous trees that occupy an area of one acre or more within an Oak Woodland from a Site or portion of a Site for any reason, including the harvesting of wood, or to enable the conversion of land to other land uses.

“Heritage oaks” are any individual oak species, as defined by this ordinance, of 48 inches diameter at breast height (dbh) or greater, separated from all Stands and Oak Woodlands by at least 500 feet.

According to the County of San Luis Obispo website; the ordinance does not apply to the removal of individual oak trees (except for Heritage oaks), woodland thinning, tree trimming, or oak trees that are diseased, dead, to creating a hazardous condition. The following circumstances are also exempt:

  • In coordination with Cal Fire
  • To establish a fence line
  • The removal of less than 1 acre of Oak Woodland

An Oak Woodland Management Plan may be used to allow clear-cutting of oak woodland, provided the cumulative amount of clear-cutting does not exceed five percent of the site’s total oak woodland canopy.

A permitted removal is required under the Oak Woodland Ordinance:

  • A Minor Use Permit is required to remove between 1-3 acres over a ten year period.
  • A Conditional Use Permit is required to remove more than 3 acres over a ten year period.
  • Heritage Oaks, as define in this ordinance, require minor use permit approval for removal.

More information: 

https://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Planning-Building/Long-Range-Planning/Services/Oak-Woodland-Ordinance.aspx

https://www.slocounty.ca.gov/getattachment/2a416641-8fac-4df1-84dd-3a760a47a008/Oak-Woodland-Ordinance.aspx

Questions regarding Oak Woodland Management Plans, Jacqueline Protsman at 805-781-4979 or jprotsman@co.slo.ca.us.