Street Trees

Under the direction of City staff, contract crews perform limited maintenance services on the City’s 23,000 street trees.

What is a Street Tree?

A “Street Tree” is a tree that is located within the public right of way.  Street Trees planted by the City are eligible for City Maintenance.

The City’s certified arborists will inspect street tree sites if you:

  • Believe the street tree in front of your home needs pruning for clearance or another safety issue. 
  • Question if the street tree is healthy.
  • Want to request that the City plant a tree, for free, in front of your home.

“Public Right of Way” refers to either:

  • The strip of land between the street and the sidewalk, sometimes called the "planter strip" or "tree lawn.”
  • The area just behind the sidewalk if a planter strip does not exist.

 *The City only maintains trees in the public right of way that have been planted by the City. Any tree planted in the public right of way without an approved permit will not receive City maintenance services.

Our care for these Street Trees includes:

  • Pruning to maintain structural integrity and to avoid branch or trunk failure.
  • Removing dead, dying or hazardous trees.
  • Providing pest control.
  • Responding to emergency situations (downed street trees from storms, etc.).
  • Annual Planting Contracts.

While trees located on private property are not maintained by the City, the pruning or removal of any Heritage tree is regulated per the Protected Tree Ordinance. Learn more about Protected Trees and the Protected Trees Ordinance and how to apply for a Tree Work Permit for any work to be done privately on either Street or Heritage Trees.

Private Care for Street Trees

On occasion, residents may wish to care for the street tree in front of their home, at the resident's expense. Because San Mateo’s Street Trees Ordinance protects all publicly maintained street trees, a permit is required prior to planting, pruning, or removing a tree. This permit is free.  Apply for a permit.

Contact the City's Arborist

The City’s arborist can be reached by email at or by phone at (650)522-7420, Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm. For emergencies after business hours, please call Public Safety Dispatch at (650) 522-7350.