Tree Removal Complaint Hearings

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Department of Public Works (DPW) Removal Proposals

Generally, the DPW is responsible for tree planting and removal permits in San Francisco’s public streets and common areas. When certain trees in the public thoroughfare are recommended to be removed for some reason, Article 16 of the San Francisco Public Works Code requires a posting on the intended tree, and that all interested San Francisco organizations be given notice of the intent to remove. That notice allows any interested or affected party to object to the intended removal. Once any objection has been filed within the 30-day period, an administrative hearing may be scheduled to consider the objection as well as public testimony concerning the proposed tree removal. These hearings are conducted through the Department of Public Works or the Department of Urban Forestry, unless the trees proposed for removal are part of a SFMTA street construction or traffic engineering project.

SFMTA Proposed Removal Hearings

When any trees are affecting a street construction or traffic engineering project and are proposed for removal by the SFMTA Streets Division planners, there will still be the required tree posting and notice requirements to interested organizations in accordance with Public Works Code § 806, but the administrative hearing must be conducted by the SFMTA Hearing Section.  

Once the tree(s) have been posted and notices have been sent out to the usually interested parties, a Notice of Public Hearing is posted on the proposed tree(s) after the public hearing has been scheduled with our Hearing Section. The Notice must be posted on the proposed tree(s) for not less than seven (7) days prior to the hearing date.

Administrative Hearing Process

Tree removal hearings conducted by the SFMTA Hearing Section follow a fair and impartial process, and the Hearing Section officers or staff will have its communications restricted in reference to the SFMTA Street Division staff that has initiated the removal proposal. In other words, communications between decision-makers and interested persons, known as "ex parte communications", on substantive matters will not be allowed between these SFMTA Departments. At the scheduled hearing, one or more parties objecting to the proposed removal(s) will always have an opportunity to respond to the SFMTA staff’s removal proposals with documents, photos and/or legal briefing.

Finally, decisions regarding the proposed tree removals will be filed online by the Hearing Section hearing officer, usually within 30 days from receipt of the last piece of documentary evidence from either of the parties. 

If you have seen trees posted for removal and have concerns about the proposals, contact the Hearing Section at or call us at 415.646.2016. The proposed tree removal hearing process will be sure to include a review of your comments before a decision is made by the hearing officer. As noted above, you will have an opportunity to attend the hearing to voice your concerns at that time.