San Francisco 2017 Street Tree Ordinance Simplified

San Francisco Street Trees – Example

What the ordinance is

  • Shifts responsibility of street trees from property owner to the City of San Francisco
  • Sidewalks damaged by trees will also the City’s responsibility (see photo below)
  • Measure E on November 2016 ballot. 80% SF voters approved it.
  • Measure E was the result of pressure from property owners and Friends of the Urban Forest.

Sidewalk damage as a result of street trees

Start date of change: July 1, 2017

Street trees defined:

  • A tree planted in the public right-of-way. In other words, trees on sidewalks adjacent to a property

Who is affected

  • Commercial and residential property owners and managers

What Property Owners Need to Know

  • A permit will be required for tree planting that would be in the public right of way
  • They can continue to maintain street trees by “opting out”. There is an “opt-out” application.
  • Street tree ordinance only applies to trees within the City limits
  • A property owner who has received a tree pruning request from the City will still be responsible for that
  • Property Owners can view their tree(s) on the Urban Forestry map
  • Each tree has been inventoried and placed in 3 categories relative to their condition.

 When – Plan and Timeline

  • First – High Priority Projects
    • Damaged trees located in the primary path of travel. See map for priority 1 & 2
    • Bus stops, schools, senior centers, health centers in pedestrian throughway zones
  • Then The City begins catch up on the backlog of deferred tree pruning throughout.
  • Public Works estimates:
    • It could take 3 years for this to be completed
    • A regular cycle of routine pruning will start in 2019.
  • Trees to be pruned on a 3-5 year cycle. SF Public Works will post the schedule in July 2018.


$19 million dollars*

No new taxes

*the cost comes out of the City’s general fund.


  • Sidewalks not damaged by trees are the property owner responsibility
  • If a property owner has already received a notice to address an issue with a street tree, they are responsible for that request.

For more information

(415) 554-6700 or 





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