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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I report a fallen tree or branch?
Emergency, threatening life or property, call Police Department (650) 522-7700.
During normal working hours 7:00 am to 3:30 pm please call (650) 522-7420,
and after hours (650) 522-7300.

How do I contact the City's arborists?
During normal business hours, 7:00 am to 3:30 pm, please call (650)-522-7420, or

Does the City of San Mateo have a regular maintenance schedule?
The City’s goal is to maintain trees on a 6–7 year pruning cycle. Trees that need attention prior to this time are placed on a tag list for pruning or the homeowner may obtain a Street Tree permit and have the tree pruned.  

Who is responsible for pruning street trees?
Pruning is based on a maintenance schedule and available resources.  If you wish to have a Street Tree pruned before the schedule and/or available resources, you may obtain a permit with specifications from a licensed and certified tree care service that will be pruning the tree. The city does not reimburse for outside services that a homeowner contracts for.

Can a tree be topped?
Tree topping is discouraged by most reputable arborists.  While there are exceptions, the city does not encourage tree topping and does not top trees. The city ordinance allows only 25% of the crown to be pruned of the entire tree and 1/3% of the root system.

Will city personnel prune trees on my private property?
No,  It is your responsibility to maintain trees on your property.

Can I remove the street tree in front of my house and replace it with another tree?
You must have a permit before removing a Street Tree. There is no cost for this permit, there may be a deposit required for a replacement of another tree.  Typically, only trees that are dead, dying or structurally unsound are approved for removal with a Street Tree permit.

Do I need a permit to cut down my own tree? 
The following 5 native trees to California that are Heritage Trees measured at 4 ft. above the ground and have a 10 inch diameter are: Bay, Buckeye, Oak, Cedar, and Redwood trees. Any other tree that has a 16 inch diameter measured at 4 ft above the ground are Hertigate Trees, and a permit is required for their removal.

My remodeling plans require the removal of a tree(s). What is the procedure?
A permit is required for the removal of any Street Tree or Heritage Tree.  The permit should be coordinated with the building permit and issued prior to any work being done.  There are also preservation requirements for Heritage Trees in construction areas.  Please be sure to have your contractor contact us before beginning any work.

San Mateo City Hall – 330 West 20th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403

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