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Proposition E Street Tree and Sidewalk Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions


What is Proposition E?

Prop. E was a measure on the November 8, 2016 San Francisco ballot regarding responsibility for maintaining street trees and surrounding sidewalks. Voters were asked if the City should amend the City Charter to transfer responsibility from property owners to the City for maintaining trees on sidewalks adjacent to their property, as well for repairing sidewalks damaged by the trees. The City would pay for this by setting aside $19 million per year from its General Fund, adjusted annually based on City revenues.  Prop E passed with almost 80% of the voters’ support.

Under Prop. E, will my taxes go up?

No. There are no new taxes as a direct result of Prop. E.

Where does the funding come from?

Prop. E establishes a $19 million annual set-aside in the City’s General Fund. 

If I want to continue to prune my tree, can I opt out?

Yes. As long as you’re caring for your tree according to City standards, you can opt out.

Now that Prop. E has passed, when will my tree be pruned?

The City officially takes responsibility of street trees beginning July 1, 2017.  We will start with the worst first!  The City is currently assessing the data from a recently completed street tree census. The pruning of street trees will be prioritized based on safety considerations, to correct structural flaws and to gain necessary clearances for overhead wires, traffic signs and signals, adjacent buildings and traffic flow.  This is expected to take several years.   Routine pruning of street trees is anticipated to begin in 2019. 

How often will my tree be pruned?

Trees will be pruned on a three- to five-year pruning cycle, based on the species and needs of each individual tree.   A pruning schedule will be posted on the Public Works website in July 2018.

Will I still be responsible for my sidewalk? 

Yes and no. Property owners still will be responsible for sidewalk damage that is not caused by trees, but the City will be responsible for any tree-related sidewalk damage. 

Is the City going to do all the work with City staff?

No. It is anticipated that about half the work will be performed by certified arborist and cement-work contractors. 

Does Prop. E. pay for tree planting, too?

No. Funding established by Prop. E only covers tree and sidewalk maintenance.  However, Public Works will continue to work with outside partners, including Friends of the Urban Forest, to ensure that replacement trees are planted and the City can grow the street tree population by 50 percent. 

How will we know how the funding is being spent?

Prop. E requires that Public Works provides an annual report on how the funding is spent and what work is completed.

Do I still need a permit to plant a tree?

Yes. You will still need a permit to plant a tree in the public right of way.

Do I need a permit to remove a tree?

If the tree is in poor health or structurally unsound, the City will remove the tree after following the public notification process.  If you wish to remove a tree for another reason, you can apply for a permit to remove the tree and go through the City’s tree-removal permitting process.

What if I see someone damaging a tree?

You can call 311 or if you feel the tree is being severely damaged call police non-emergency at (415) 553-0123

Where can I get more information?

For more information about street trees in general, contact San Francisco Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry at (415) 554-6700 or