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Procedures & Guidelines

MAINTENANCE RESPONSIBILITY: Alameda County General Ordinance Code, Section 12.11.130 of the Tree Ordinance states that it is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the tree(s) in perpetuity.

PERMITS (click here for permit application) (DOC - 117kb)**

The Alameda County Public Works Agency encourages the planting of trees along County right-of-way in the unincorporated areas of the County. The County Tree Ordinance requires property owners planning to perform any of the following activities to obtain an approved permit from the Alameda County Public Works Agency:

  • Pruning/ Trimming of branches over one (1) inch in diameter
    (Permits are not required for minor pruning of branches one (1") inch in diameter or less)
  • Removing
  • Planting

There is a non-refundable permit application fee for pruning/trimming and removal (see FAQs, Permit Application (DOC - 117kb)** and Permit Instructions (DOC - 117kb)**) that covers a portion of the cost of the inspection. The County covers the costs associated with the Urban Forestry Program, permit processing, and shares a portion of the inspection costs.

  • Yearly permits are available for maintenance only for qualifying contractors. If a contractor in possession of a yearly (non-site specific) permit is hired, the homeowner will not need to apply for a site-specific permit.
  • Fees for permit applications to plant a tree will be waived in order to encourage the planting of trees within the County right-of-way.

Property owners must keep a copy of an approved permit on site while tree work is performed. Any work performed on a street tree located within the right-of-way of the incorporated area of the County without an approved permit is a violation of the County Tree Ordinance and is subject to penalties and fines .

ANNUAL NON-SITE SPECIFIC PERMITS (click here for application) (DOC - 130kb)**

Licensed contractors that meet the following requirements will be eligible to apply for annual maintenance permits:

  1. The contractor must possess a valid license with the California State Contractors Licensing Board.
  2. The contractor agrees to perform all work in accordance with County specified standards.
  3. The contractor has paid any applicable fees as established by the Director.
  4. The contractor agrees to furnish the County with a monthly report regarding any work that has been performed within the County right-of-way.

Property owners who retain a contractor that is in possession of an Annual Non-Site Specific permit will not need to apply for an individual permit for maintenance.

Pruning and Trimming of Street Trees

In an effort to protect and maintain healthy trees, the County requires that any person or utility proposing to prune, trim or perform any other maintenance on any or all trees located within the County right-of-way must obtain an approved Tree Permit. Permit requirements will be waived for minor pruning of branches one (1) inch in diameter or less. The County requires that in accordance with state law, all work shall be performed by a licensed contractor ( BP 7026.1c ). All tree trimming must be in compliance with the International Society of Arboriculture Tree Pruning Guidelines and the Standard Practices for Tree Care Operations: Tree, Shrub, and other Woody Plant Maintenance (ANSI A300) .

The County may require the property owner to trim, clean-up, support, or repair a tree if so necessary for reasons of public safety.

Topping

Topping is considered to be harmful to trees, therefore, topping of trees located within the right-of-way in the unincorporated areas of the County will not be allowed. In the case that a tree is topped the owner will be subject to penalties, fines, and the costs of completing the removal and replacement of the tree if so designated by the Director of Public Works. A tree that has been pollarded in the past may continue to be pollarded in the future so long as the property owner obtains the Director's prior written approval.

Removing A Street Tree

Per Title 12, Section 12.11.140 of the Alameda County Tree Ordinance it shall be prohibited for any person or utility to remove or cause to be removed any tree from the right-of-way unless so authorized by an approved tree permit issued by the Director pursuant to this chapter. Any property owner wishing to remove a tree located within the County right-of-way must obtain permission to remove the tree by obtaining an approved tree permit and is responsible for replacing the tree with a type of tree selected from the County's "Recommended Tree List" (see "Street Tree Selection Procedures").

Street Tree Selection Procedures

Refer to the Alameda County Recommended Tree List for a listing of trees generally recommended for planting within the County right-of-way. The list includes a variety of tree shapes and sizes. Please be aware this list focuses on hardy and readily available tree species that are less likely to cause concrete damage.

Prior to selecting a tree from the approved list for aesthetics and appropriateness, the property owner should consider the following before a tree is planted:

Before You Plant, Know What is Already in the Ground

Please call Underground Service Alert (USA) at 1-800-227-2588 to request the location of all underground utilities. They will mark your planting area for the location of your water, electric and gas lines. Care should be taken that trees are planted at least six feet to the side of underground facilities. Proper selection of trees under or near power lines reduces fire hazards, decreases power outages, limits the need for frequent pruning, increases property value, and adds beauty to the community.

You can confirm the location of your side sewer through your local Sanitation District. Knowing these locations in advance may save you time and money by preventing an accident from occurring when you dig to plant your tree and it will prolong the life of your tree.

When planting under power lines choose only small-scale trees that will remain at least 10 feet away from the High Voltage power lines at maturity.

people planting a tree

Planting Your Street Tree

Before the property owner can obtain an approved permit to plant a tree, the procedure requires the County's Arborist to review and approve the type of tree and the planting location. The property owner will be responsible for properly planting and maintaining the tree. This includes watering during the drier seasons, mulching (4.51 MB) * and pruning according to the prescribed standards.

* Portable Document Format (PDF) file requires the free Adobe Reader.

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