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DocumentPruning or Removing City Trees

The pruning or removing of City trees is completed by City Staff. City maintained trees may be on land owned by the City, City Right of Ways, or in front of homes and commercial property within the City tree easement. Service is usually restricted, but not limited, to those trees originally planted by the City. Requests for either of these services may be made by contacting our Parks Division at (650) 829-3837. Service is based upon need or necessity. For instance; storm emergencies, traffic and safety needs, and projects have priority over cosmetic or aesthetic needs.

Tree Preservation Ordinance

The City of South San Francisco is endowed and forested with a variety of healthy and valuable trees which must be protected and preserved. The preservation of trees is essential to the health, welfare and quality of life of the citizens of our City because these trees preserve the scenic beauty of our City, maintain ecological balance, prevent erosion of top soil, counteract air pollution and oxygenate the air, absorb noise, maintain climatic and microclimatic balance, help block wind, and provide shade and color.

For these reasons, the City of South San Francisco has adopted a new Tree Preservation Ordinance. Under this ordinance essentially no “protected tree” shall be removed or pruned without a permit.

What is a "protected tree"?

  • Any tree of the following species with a circumference of 75" or more when measured 54" above natural grade
    • Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus)
    • Black Acacia (Acacia melanoxylon)
    • Myoporum (Myoporum laetum)
    • Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
    • Glossy Privet (Lingustrum lucidum)
    • Lombardy Poplar (Populus nigra)
  • Any heritage tree of the following species with a circumference of 30" or more when measured at 54" above natural grade
    • California Bay (Umbellaria californica)
    • Oak (Quercus spp.)
    • Cedar (Cedrus spp.)
    • California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)
    • Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus var. asplenifolius)
    • Strawberry Tree (Arbutus spp.)
    • Mayten (Maytenus boaria)
    • Little Gem Dwarf Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem')
  • Any tree other than the species listed above with a circumference of 48" or more when measured 54" above natural grade
  • A tree or stand of trees so designated based upon findings that it is unique and of importance to the public due to its unusual appearance, location, historical significance
  • A stand of trees whereby each tree is dependent upon the others for survival

If you're ever unsure if you need a permit, call the Parks Division Office at (650) 829-3837 and we'll be happy to assist you.

What is the difference between pruning and trimming?

  • Pruning means the removal of more than one third of the crown or existing foliage of the tree or more than one third of the root system.
  • Trimming means the removal of less than one third of the crown or existing foliage of the tree or less than one third of the root system. Trimming a protected tree is allowed without a permit.

How much does a permit cost?

  • The fee for a tree removal permit is $100 per tree.

Penalty for violation:

In addition to any other penalties allowed by law, any person removing, pruning, abusing, or mutilating a tree in violation of this chapter shall be liable for damages equal to twice the replacement value of the tree, as determined by the International Society of Arboriculture Standards, or by a city arborist determined by the director as being qualified to make this assessment.

Where do I get a permit or obtain more information on the Tree Preservation Ordinance?

  • Download a Protected Tree Pruning/Removal Permit Application, or call the Parks Division at (650) 829-3837.

What are the best kind of trees to plant in the City of South San Francisco?

To learn more about urban trees, please visit: