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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Maintenance

  1. How do I report a fallen tree or branch?
  2. How do I contact to the city arborist?
  3. Why does Redwood City put in new trees if they can’t maintain the ones they have?
  4. If the City wants this tree here, why don’t they take care of it?
  5. Can’t they do something to stop weeds from growing through the grating around city trees?
  6. Does city staff spray for insects or disease?
  7. My neighbor had his/her tree sprayed, why didn’t you do all of them?
  8. What’s the next step for aphid control?
  9. Does Redwood City have a regular maintenance schedule?

Pruning

  1. How long does it take to prune my tree ?
  2. Who is responsible for pruning city-owned trees ?
  3. Can a tree be topped?
  4. Which trees are owned by the city?
  5. Will city personnel prune trees on my private property ?

Planting

  1. I previously requested the planting of a tree in front of my house. How long should it take?
  2. Who decides what trees go where?
  3. If this street has been declared a sycamore street, how come there are magnolias and crepe myrtles on either side of me?
  4. What kind of tree will be planted?
  5. Can I choose the type of tree to be planted?
  6. How many trees can I have planted?
  7. Will the city plant trees for free in front of people’s homes?

Removal

  1. Can I remove the street tree in front of my house and replace it with another tree?
  2. Why do I need a permit to cut down my own tree?
  3. I’m doing a remodel and need to remove one or more trees. How do I proceed?
  4. When can a city tree be removed?
  5. Can I have the wood from my city tree?
  6. Can you remove my tree because it is messy?
  7. Why do I need a permit to prune or remove my own tree?
  8. Where do I measure the tree?
  9. How do I get more information about permits?
  10. Do I need a permit to remove a dead tree?
  11. What is the cost for a permit?
  12. How long does it take to get a permit approved?
  13. Can I do the work myself or do I have to hire a tree maintenance company?
  14. Can city staff recommend a tree company?

  1. How do I report a fallen tree or branch?
    If it is an emergency, threatening life or property, call 911. During normal working hours please call 650-780-7464 to report the address and circumstances. For non-emergency situations, go to the Report Problems web page and submit a report.
  2. How do I contact to the city arborist?
    During normal business hours please call 650-780-7464.

Maintenance

  1. Why does Redwood City put in new trees if they can’t maintain the ones they have?
    City personnel are maintaining existing trees. New trees will supplement the existing canopy, enhancing the city’s beauty. However, the canopy develops over time, it will not occur overnight. We have modified the pruning strategies for new trees to avoid some of the structural issues we have experienced with our older trees.
  2. If the City wants this tree here, why don’t they take care of it?
    City personnel are maintaining existing trees. Funds are budgeted to preserve this natural asset. However, with budgetary limitations, there is always more that can be done. We encourage property owners to help by watering their newly planted trees.
  3. Can’t they do something to stop weeds from growing through the grating around city trees?
    The weeds growing in the planting strip are the responsibility of the property owner adjacent to the strip. Mulch and other similar deterrents can be added to fill in the tree grates. Using plant-killing chemicals around a tree is not advised since it is dangerous to the tree’s health.
  4. Does city staff spray for insects or disease?
    Yes, when the threshold of the infestation creates a health or safety issue for the tree or residents. City personnel will not spray every time a pest is observed. This would not be a responsible use of pesticides. Whenever possible, natural predators are used for insect control. If chemicals are required, we use the least toxic materials available. Redwood City applies an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to pest control (see Redwood City’s Tree Pest Management Philosophy). The objective is to control pests while minimizing the use of chemicals.
  5. My neighbor had his/her tree sprayed, why didn’t you do all of them?
    City personnel only spray trees by request. When responding to requests for pest control, city personnel will evaluate the situation and determine if the threshold of the pest warrants spraying. If chemicals are warranted, the treatment will be scheduled and the resident will be advised about the pesticide being used, any cautions related to the treatment and the proposed schedule.
  6. What’s the next step for aphid control?
    See Aphid Control (pdf. 103KB).
  7. Does Redwood City have a regular maintenance schedule?
    City personnel perform routine maintenance on the approximately 18,000 street trees and 15,000 park trees. Due to the magnitude of the inventory, the most critical and high priority work is scheduled first. We perform as much work as possible in the more efficient block pruning approach. A long-term maintenance schedule is not available at this time.

Pruning

  1. How long does it take to prune my tree?
    The actual time to prune a tree may range from 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on the needs of the tree.
  2. Who is responsible for pruning city-owned trees?
    The Public Works Division maintains and prunes all city-owned trees based on available resources. If you wish to accelerate the pruning cycle, you may secure a permit and have the tree pruned to the City’s standards by a reputable arborist.
  3. Can a tree be topped?
    In most circumstances, No! Tree topping is generally discouraged throughout the arboricultural industry (see Best Management Practices). City policy encourages the growth of tall spreading shade trees. Our pruning methods comply with the International Society of Arboriculture best management practices and the ANSI A 300 Standards.
  4. Which trees are owned by the city?
    City-owned trees are those trees growing within the public Right-of-Way. Most trees along Redwood City’s streets in the strip of land between the street and the sidewalk are city-owned. Where this strip doesn’t exist, city-owned trees may be planted behind the sidewalk. A representative from the City will visit your location and determine if the trees in question belong to the city.
  5. Will city personnel prune trees on my private property?
    City staff only maintains city-owned trees. It is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain trees on private property.

Planting

  1. I previously requested the planting of a tree in front of my house. How long should it take?
    Tree planting is performed when enough requests are received to justify an order from the nursery. Typically, large tree planting events are scheduled in the spring and fall.
  2. Who decides what trees go where?
    City personnel determine which trees are for a particular street and where the tree will be planted. Considerations for the location include: spacing, sewer lines, proximity to concrete improvements, street lights, etc.
  3. If this street has been declared a sycamore street, how come there are magnolias and crepe myrtles on either side of me?
    The designated tree policy is a recent modification to the Tree Planting Program. Residents used to be able to select from a variety of trees to plant in front of their property. That practice minimized the City’s ability to control the inventory of species planted.
  4. What kind of tree will be planted?
    City planting policies require the planting of medium large tree species. Generally, each block will have the same species to maintain the character of the street. Only tree types designated for a particular block will be planted.
  5. Can I choose the type of tree to be planted?
    No, the property owner cannot choose what type of tree the city plants. Only tree types designated for a particular block will be planted.
  6. How many trees can I have planted?
    We will plant as many trees as space and proper tree care allow. Trees will not be planted under the following conditions:
    • New tree would be closer than 15 feet from an existing tree.
    • New tree would be closer than 8 feet from a fire hydrant.
    • New tree would be closer than 4 feet from a water meter box or utility vault.
    • New tree would be closer than 15 feet from a street light.
    • New tree would be closer than 8 feet from a sewer line.
    • New tree would be too close to an intersection. It would eventually create an across-the-intersection vision problem.
  7. Will the city plant trees for free in front of people’s homes?
    Yes. City staff will plant a 15 gallon tree, free of charge.


    Removal
  1. Can I remove the street tree in front of my house and replace it with another tree?
    In most cases, no. Generally, only trees found to be dead, dying or structurally unsound are approved for removal. Certain construction permits may cause the removal of a tree. There will be a replanting condition based on the size of the tree removed.
  2. Why do I need a permit to cut down my own tree?
    The City has a Tree Preservation Ordinance protecting trees growing on private property that are greater than a minimum size. Please see Tree Services for an overview.
  3. I’m doing a remodel and need to remove one or more trees. How do I proceed?
    The tree removal will be coordinated with the building permit. If the tree is found to need to be removed for the project, you will receive a preliminary approval for the tree removal. Once the building permit is issued, you will also be issued the permit to remove the tree.
  4. When can a city tree be removed?
    A tree is only removed that is dead, dying, structurally unsound or if it creates a problem that cannot be resolved without causing great harm to the tree. Trees are inspected and the decision to remove is made on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Can I have the wood from my city tree?
    The wood from city-owned trees belongs to the citizens of Redwood City. Usable wood is left along the public thoroughfare. Citizens may pick up the wood on a first come first serve bases after the crew has left the job site.
  6. Can you remove my tree because it is messy?
    In most cases, messiness is not sufficient cause to remove a tree. Tree litter can be placed in the BFI recycling bins. The street sweeper will also pick up tree litter in the gutter during their normal route.

Tree Preservation Ordinance

  1. Why do I need a permit to prune or remove my own tree?
    In 1970 the City Counsel passed the Tree Preservation ordinance to protect trees growing on private property. The ordinance requires a permit to prune or remove any tree larger than 38 inches in circumference measured between 6” and 36” above ground.
  2. Where do I measure the tree?
    Measure the tree trunk at its largest point between six and 36 inches above the ground.
  3. How do I get more information about permits?
    Go to the “Tree Preservation Ordinance & Permit Application” web page.
  4. Do I need a permit to remove a dead tree?
    Yes. All trees require a permit to prune or remove if they are larger than 38 inches in circumference.
  5. What is the cost for a permit?
    There is no fee for a permit to prune or remove a tree at this time.
  6. How long does it take to get a permit approved?
    In most cases it takes 10 working days to process a permit. If there is an emergency situation, staff will respond as soon as time and resources allow, often the same day. When non-emergency applications are submitted as an emergency, they will not receive priority approval.
  7. Can I do the work myself or do I have to hire a tree maintenance company?
    You can do the work yourself. Tree maintenance can be very dangerous. Homeowners need to evaluate their skills and capabilities before endangering themselves. City staff will provide specifications for pruning and provide you a copy of the ANSI A-300 Pruning Standard and International Society of Arboriculture best management practices to guide you.
  8. Can city staff recommend a tree company?
    City personnel will not recommend one tree company over another. It is recommended that you solicit more than one estimate prior to hiring a company and that you feel comfortable that the company you hire can perform the work to the ANSI A-300 Pruning Standards. All tree companies operating in Redwood City must have a current Redwood City business license. If the job is over $500, the state also requires the company to have a State Contractors License. Redwood City does not enforce the State requirement.


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