NEW Protected Trees Ordinance ( S.M.M.C. 13.40 ) - Effective 7/1/21

The “Protected Trees” Ordinance (S.M.M.C 13.40) was adopted by San Mateo City Council on May 3, 2021. This new ordinance takes effect July 1, 2021 and replaces the existing “Street Trees” Ordinance (13.35) and “Heritage Trees” Ordinance (13.52).

The Protected Trees Ordinance was introduced to meet the following objectives:

  • Enhance clarity of San Mateo’s Heritage Tree and Street Tree regulations and permitting process.
  • Increase the effectiveness of ordinance implementation.
  • Maintain and enhance the City’s tree canopy.
  • View Protected Trees Ordinance 

What's New in the Protected Trees Ordinance?

  1. Definition of Heritage Tree - A tree will now be classified as a Heritage Tree if it is:
    • Any oak (Quercus spp.) with a trunk diameter of ten (10) inches or greater
    • Any other species with a trunk diameter of fifteen (15) inches or greater
  2. Location of trunk diameter measurement - Trunk diameter will now be recorded at the industry standard height of 54” above grade.
  3. Administrative Guidelines - A companion document to the Ordinance will be released on July 1, 2021. The Administrative Guidelines will assist the public in interpreting and complying with the City’s tree regulations. The Administrative Guidelines will include visual aids, a replacement species list, and a matrix of required replant ratios and monetary equivalencies.
  4. More flexible replant options - Under the new Protected Trees Ordinance, Heritage Trees may be replaced with a 15-gallon tree of "Preferred" species. "Preferred" species will be selected based on their mature size and a list will be included in the Administrative Guidelines released on July 1, 2021.