Permits

How do I know if I need a permit?

 

If you live in the unincorporated area, click here to find out.

If you live in the City, click here to find out.

Do I need a permit to cut or trim a tree? It depends.

In the City, call 650-558-7260

In the unincorporated area:

Click here for information about what to do about trimming and removing your trees.

 

A strict, new tree protection ordinance was recently approved with penalties up to $10,000 for unpermitted cutting

 

Illegal tree cutting, which has been a major problem in Burlingame Hills, is likely to be greatly reduced due to the ordinance revisions that went into effect on November 18, 2017, after approval from the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The revised ordinance establishes major penalty fees for unpermitted cutting. Until now, there were no such penalty fees. There is no change to permitting fees for those who go through the regular process of removing a tree.

 

Violation of the revised regulations will result in penalty fees and After-the-Fact Tree Removal Permit fees. 

 

After-the-Fact Tree Removal Application fees can be up to 10 times the normal permit fee, as currently allowed by the Planning Department's fee schedule. In addition, the following new penalty fees are now in place for trees that are removed without a permit: 

 

First Significant* (~12"+ diameter) Tree $2,500 

Second Significant Tree $3,750  

Each Additional Significant Tree $5,000 

First Heritage* Tree $5,000

Second Heritage Tree $7,500 

Each Additional Heritage Tree $10,000

* See asterisk below for details.

These higher penalty fees are intended to deter the unpermitted removal of trees, account for the increased time and administrative costs associated with the processing of violations and After-the-Fact Tree Removal Permits, and reflect the significant community and environmental benefits that Heritage and Significant Trees provide.

If a neighbor goes through the proper permitting process, then all neighbors within 300 feet should receive a notice. If you live within 300 feet of a Significant* or Heritage* tree that is being removed, is having large limbs removed, or is otherwise being killed and you did not receive a notice in the mail from the County planning department, then please call the Sheriff immediately. You can remain anonymous, if you choose. The Sheriff will halt the tree removal until such time as the penalty fee is paid and an After-the-Fact Removal Permit is issued.

Together we can preserve the forest in which we live, for beauty, peacefulness, privacy, and habitat for animals.

 

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* A "Significant tree" has a trunk of approximately 12" in diameter or greater, as measured at 4 1/2' above ground. The legal definition is "any live woody plant rising above the ground with a single stem or trunk of a circumference of thirty-eight inches (38") or more measured at four and one half feet (4 1/2') vertically above the ground or immediately below the lowest branch, whichever is lower, and having the inherent capacity of naturally producing one main axis continuing to grow more vigorously than the lateral axes."

* "Heritage tree" means any of the following: Class 1 shall include any tree or grove of trees so designated after Board inspection, advertised public hearing and resolution by the Board of Supervisors. The affected property owners shall be given proper written notice between 14 and 30 days prior to inspection and/or hearing by the Board. Class 2 shall include any of the following trees, healthy and generally free from disease, with diameter equal to or greater than the sizes listed: (1) Acer macrophyllum - Bigleaf Maple of more than 28 inches, measured at four and one half feet (4 1/2') vertically above the ground ("d.b.h."). (2) Arbutus menziesii - Madrone with a single stem or multiple stems touching each other 4 1/2 feet above the ground of more than 48 inches in d.b.h., or clumps visibly connected above ground with a basal area greater than 20 square feet measured 4 1/2 feet above average ground level. (3) Chrysolepis chrysophylla - Golden Chinquapin of more than 20 inches in d.b.h. (4) Cupressus abramsiana - All Santa Cruz Cypress trees. (5) Fraxinus latifolia - Oregon Ash of more than 12 inches in d.b.h. (6) Lithocarpus densiflorus - Tan Oak of more than 48 inches in d.b.h. (7) Pseudotsuga menziesii - Douglas Fir of more than 60 inches in d.b.h. (8) Quercus agrifolia - Coast Live Oak of more than 48 inches in d.b.h. (9) Quercus chrysolepis - Canyon Live Oak of more than 40 inches in d.b.h. (10) Quercus garryana - All Oregon White Oak trees. (11) Quercus kellogii - Black Oak of more than 32 inches in d.b.h. (12) Quercus wislizenii - Interior Live Oak of more than 40 inches in d.b.h. (13) Quercus lobata - Valley Oak of more than 48 inches in d.b.h. (14) Quercus douglasii - Blue Oak of more than 30 inches in d.b.h. (15) Umbellularia californica - California Bay Laurel with a single stem or multiple stems touching each other 4 1/2 feet above the ground of more than 48 inches in d.b.h., or clumps visibly connected above ground with a basal area of 20 square feet measured 4 1/2 feet above average ground level. (16) Torreya californica - California Nutmeg of more than 30 inches in d.b.h. (17) Sequoia sempervirens - Redwood of more than 72 inches d.b.h.