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January 31, 2019

Homeowners Not On Hook for Sidewalk Tree Care


The San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) is responsible for pruning and maintaining all trees located on city streets—not homeowners.

This is a question that often comes up in inspections, so I thought I’d share some background on tree care. Voters approved Prop E, which amended the city charter to transfer responsibility to the city from homeowners for the care of the 124,000+ trees and surrounding sidewalks. The measure took effect in July 2017.

The city has been caring for the “worst first,” meaning trees that pose safety hazards, are near power lines or have caused structural flaws. This is particularly important to note because “structural flaws” concerns sidewalks where tree roots have damaged and lifted up concrete, posing major trip hazards. (But homeowners are responsible for fixing their sidewalks if the damage occurred prior to July 1,2017.)

If you’d like to personally maintain your tree, you can opt out of the program. However, your pruning must meet city standards, an outline of which is available on the DPW site.

Visit StreetTreeSF for more details, numbers to call and even a video showing how the city is maintaining its trees.

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