In 1968, the City adopted a Heritage tree Ordinance to preserve the great trees in the City and to encourage planting more trees. Heritage trees are living landmarks and are an important part of San Mateo’s urban forest. In order to be considered a Heritage tree, a tree must be:
- Any bay (Umbellularia californica), buckeye (Aesculus spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), cedar (Cedrus) or redwood (Sequoia) tree that has a diameter of ten (10) inches or more measured at forty-eight (48) inches above natural grade
- Any other tree with a trunk diameter of sixteen (16) inches or more, measured at forty-eight (48) inches above natural grade.
Heritage Tree Regulations
Because of the protected status of Heritage trees you must obtain a permit to work on them. You can apply for a permit with the Heritage Tree Application. Unless you have such a permit, It is unlawful to:
- Remove a Heritage Tree.
- Prune more than one quarter of the crown or existing foliage.
- Remove more than one third of the root system.
Heritage Tree Permit Process
The permit process takes several weeks so you must plan ahead.
Complete the Heritage Tree Application.
Email the application to
You may also submit your Heritage Tree Application to the Parks and Recreation Office at 2001 Pacific Blvd..
The Managing Arborist will inspect the site to determine the validity of the request.
All abutting property owners and renters will be notified in writing of the arborist’s decision to grant a permit and have 10 days to appeal.
After the 10 days or when any appeal is resolved, the property owner can pick up the permit at the Park and Recreation counter at 2001 Pacific Blvd. The cost of the permit is $75..
Things to keep in mind:
A 24 inch box size tree is required to be planted for each tree removed.
In lieu of replanting, in many cases, a payment equal to the value stated on the permit can be made to the City’s Tree Planting Fund.
When replanting is required a $425 deposit is required and is refunded when the replanting conditions are met.
Deposits are nonrefundable if replanting conditions are not met within 6 months.