Street Tree Removal

  • Street Tree Removal

A tree removal permit is required to remove a street tree in San Francisco.  Any tree in the public right-of-way is considered a street tree.

In addition, new legislation enacted in 2007 requires that a permit be issued to remove any significant tree. As defined in the Public Works Code, Significant trees are located on private property, but within 10 feet of the public right-of-way and also meet any one of the following size requirements:

  • 20 feet or greater in height

  • 15 feet or greater canopy width

  • 12 inches or greater diameter of trunk measured at 4.5 feet above grade

These trees are granted the same protections as street trees, and a permit is required before any significant tree can be removed.

A permit is required before any street tree or significant tree – alive, dead or hazardous – can be removed. Tree removal without a permit is a violation of Article 16 of the Public Works Code and penalties may apply.

Online Tree Application

Tree Removal Permitting Process and Application (PDF)

 

The following is required to process your application:

Return the completed and signed application form including number and name of the replacement tree species.


A non-refundable fee must be paid to Public Works:

  • 1-3 trees (for diseased, hazard or sidewalk damaged related removals)

$372

  • 1-3 (for Construction or development) trees

$749

  • 4-9 trees

$997

  • 10 or more trees

$1,498

 

Other documents that may be required:

Include proof of damage caused by trees, such as paid invoices for repair. Please note that even if a tree has caused sidewalk, sewer or other property damage, removal may not be required.
If the removal is related to new construction, include site plans accurately showing tree locations as well as your building permit number.

 

Removal Process:

Public Works inspectors evaluate trees for removal.

If we recommend tree removal, a notice will be posted on the tree for 30 days. If objections to the removal are received, a public hearing will be scheduled. If we deny removal, the applicant may request a public hearing. After the hearing, a hearing officer will make a recommendation to the Public Works Director, who will issue a final decision. The Director's decision may be appealable to the Board of Appeals.

 

Additional Recommendations:

An International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist should evaluate the tree and provide a written report. Certified arborists can be found in the Yellow Pages under the heading "Tree Services" or at the International Society of Arboriculture.

Use a licensed and insured arborist or other contractor for any tree work.

For each tree removed, a replacement tree is required.

It is recommended that permittees carry adequate liability insurance.

 

For additional information contact us at:

San Francisco Public Works
Bureau of Urban Forestry
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor (Map)
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 554-6700

Sidewalk Landscaping Permits

  • sidewalk landscaping photo

San Francisco Public Works issues low-cost permits for sidewalk landscaping, so property owners can convert a portion of their sidewalk into an attractive landscaped area. Public Works staff ensures that landscaping on sidewalks is properly constructed and maintained to protect public safety, ensure pedestrian access and protect city infrastructure.  Landscaped sidewalks look great, provide wildlife habitat, reduce flooding, and increase property values! 

 

Getting Started

 

 

 

 

Designing your Sidewalk Garden

 

 

 

 

Planting your Sidewalk Garden

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources

 

 

 

 

Street Trees Planting

  • Street Tree Planting

 

Thank you for your interest in planting a street tree and beautifying San Francisco. There is no fee required for a Tree Planting Permit, however, the permit is necessary to ensure that street trees do not impact infrastructure and are appropriately planted so that they thrive and become a neighborhood asset.

Tree Planting Permits can be submitted online. Please read through the planting process and guidelines on this page before submitting your application.

Hardcopy forms may also be downloaded and submitted via fax or mail: Tree Planting Process and Application (PDF). Return the completed and signed application form including the number and name of the tree species to be planted. If the planting is related to new construction, include site plans accurately showing tree locations as well as the location of utilities, street lights, and other street furniture. Please include your building permit number.

If construction triggers the tree planting requirement Section 138.1, submittal must include:
       -Tree Planting Application.
       -Site plans accurately showing tree locations as well as the location of utilities, street lights, and other street furniture.
       -A complete PDF iconChecklist for Tree Planting and Protection.pdf

Planting Process

A Public Works inspector will evaluate the proposed tree locations and tree species. Tree basins will be located in compliance with Order 178,631, as well as the Minimum Guidelines, which accompany the application. Call Underground Service Alert at 800-227-2600 to check for the location of your underground utilities. If underground utilities are closer than the required minimum distance, or if you have questions, you can call Public Works at 415-554-6700.

It is recommended that the Permittee carry adequate liability insurance. Other department restrictions may apply.

 

General Requirements

  1. Trees to be planted must be from a minimum 15-gallon nursery container (24" box minimum nursery container for required trees).

  2. Eight feet of vertical clearance must be maintained on the sidewalk side of the tree and 14 feet of vertical clearance maintained on the street side of the tree at maturity. 

  3. Newly planted trees shall not have branches that obstruct the path of travel on the sidewalk. Maintain branches within the confines of the tree basin.

  4. Raised structures around the tree basin can present a tripping hazard and are not allowed.

  5. A basin cover, perimeter of red brick, or other approved material is encouraged in the tree basin in the following cases: '

    • The sidewalk is less than seven feet wide

    • A bus zone exists

    • Heavy pedestrian traffic

    • Sidewalks with a grade of 10% or greater.

    • The tree basins is adjacent to a parking meter

 

Minimum Restrictions

Trees may not be planted within:

  • Twenty five feet of a traffic signal or stop sign;

  • Three feet of a parking sign unless the Department of Parking and Traffic agrees to relocate
    the sign;

  • Three feet of a gas or water meter;

  • Five feet of a sewer line;

  • Five feet of a fire hydrant;

  • Ten feet from a fire escape;

  • Twelve to 15 feet of existing trees if both are small mature-sized trees (the location must be approved by an urban forestry inspector or their representative.

 

The property owner shall check for the presence of underground utilities in the area of a proposed plantings and shall be solely responsible in avoiding interference with or damage to electric or telephone conduits, sewers and other utilities. Once again, you can check for the location of your underground gas and utility services by calling Underground Service Alert at 800-227-2600.

Public Works is committed to a policy of maintaining and expanding a diverse population of street trees as an essential component of the urban forest. We issue tree planting and removal permits and is responsible for maintaining about 40,000 street trees. Private property owners are responsible for maintaining about 60,000 street trees and our Urban Forestry provides resources to owners, inspects trees for proper maintenance and acts on complaints.

 

Benefits of a healthy urban forest include:

  • Increased real estate values
  • Improved air quality
  • Improved wildlife habitat
  • Improved psychological well-being
  • Improved aesthetic environment
  • Decreased noise

 

How It Works: Permits and Guidelines

 

To report a tree that poses a hazard or needs to be trimmed, please call 311 or submit a 311 service request online.

 

Resources

The San Francisco Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) may be able to assist you directly with the entire permit process including tree planting. FUF is a non-profit neighborhood tree planting organization and offers tree maintenance programs.

 

For additional information, contact us at:

San Francisco Public Works
Bureau of Urban Forestry
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 554-6700