Street Tree Planting Permitting Process
Thank you for your interest in planting a street tree and beautifying San Francisco. There is no fee required for a Tree Planting Permit, however, the permit is necessary to ensure that street trees do not impact infrastructure and are appropriately planted so that they thrive and become a neighborhood asset.
Tree Planting Permits can be submitted online. Please read through the planting process and guidelines on this page before submitting your application.
Hardcopy forms may also be downloaded and submitted via fax or mail: Tree Planting Process and Application (PDF). Return the completed and signed application form including the number and name of the tree species to be planted. If the planting is related to new construction, include site plans accurately showing tree locations as well as the location of utilities, street lights, and other street furniture. Please include your building permit number.
A Public Works inspector will evaluate the proposed tree locations and tree species. Tree basins will be located in compliance with Order 178,631, as well as the Minimum Guidelines, which accompany the application. Call Underground Service Alert at 800-227-2600 to check for the location of your underground utilities. If underground utilities are closer than the required minimum distance, or if you have questions, you can call Public Works at 415-554-6700.
It is recommended that the Permittee carry adequate liability insurance. Other department restrictions may apply.
- Trees to be planted must be from a minimum 15-gallon nursery container (24" box minimum nursery container for required trees).
- Eight feet of vertical clearance must be maintained on the sidewalk side of the tree and 14 feet of vertical clearance maintained on the street side of the tree at maturity.
- Newly planted trees shall not have branches that obstruct the path of travel on the sidewalk. Maintain branches within the confines of the tree basin.
- Raised structures around the tree basin can present a tripping hazard and are not allowed.
- A basin cover, perimeter of red brick, or other approved material is encouraged in the tree basin in the following cases: '
- The sidewalk is less than seven feet wide
- A bus zone exists
- Heavy pedestrian traffic
- Sidewalks with a grade of 10% or greater.
- The tree basins is adjacent to a parking meter
Trees may not be planted within:
- Twenty five feet of a traffic signal or stop sign;
- Three feet of a parking sign unless the Department of Parking and Traffic agrees to relocate
- Three feet of a gas or water meter;
- Five feet of a sewer line;
- Five feet of a fire hydrant;
- Ten feet from a fire escape;
- Twelve to 15 feet of existing trees if both are small mature-sized trees (the location must be approved by an urban forestry inspector or their representative.
The property owner shall check for the presence of underground utilities in the area of a proposed plantings and shall be solely responsible in avoiding interference with or damage to electric or telephone conduits, sewers and other utilities. Once again, you can check for the location of your underground gas and utility services by calling Underground Service Alert at 800-227-2600.
Public Works is committed to a policy of maintaining and expanding a diverse population of street trees as an essential component of the urban forest. We issue tree planting and removal permits and is responsible for maintaining about 40,000 street trees. Private property owners are responsible for maintaining about 60,000 street trees and our Urban Forestry provides resources to owners, inspects trees for proper maintenance and acts on complaints.
Benefits of a healthy urban forest include:
Increased real estate values
Improved air quality
Improved wildlife habitat
Improved psychological well-being
Improved aesthetic environment
How It Works: Permits and Guidelines
- Tree Planting Permits (information on this page)
- Tree Removal Permits
- Guidelines for Planting Street Trees (PDF)
- Young Street Tree Pruning Guidelines (PDF)
- Tree Pruning Guidelines for Established Trees (PDF)
- Non-Profit Assistance for Tree Planting
- Approved Street Tree List (PDF)
The San Francisco Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) may be able to assist you directly with the entire permit process including tree planting. FUF is a non-profit neighborhood tree planting organization and offers tree maintenance programs.
For additional information, contact us at:San Francisco Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry 1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 554-6700