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.
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)
- 1-3 (for Construction or development) trees
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.
A Department of Public of Works inspector evaluates trees for removal.
If the Department recommends 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 the Department denies the 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.
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:
The Department of Public Works
Bureau of Street Use and Mapping
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor (Map)
San Francisco, CA 94103