Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in San Francisco?
- 2 Does the City of San Francisco Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
- 3 Who Is Responsible For Fallen Tree Removal in San Francisco?
- 4 How Does the Soil Affect Trees in San Francisco?
- 5 Does Weather Affect Tree Health in San Francisco?
- 6 What If Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in San Francisco?
- 7 How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in San Francisco?
What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in San Francisco?
There are many problems that trees can face depending on their location. In San Francisco, you may encounter the following issues.
Pine Pitch Canker
The fungus that causes Pitch Pine Canker is partially spread by bark beetles. It impacts many types of pine trees, particularly the popular Monterey pine. To help reduce the spread, San Francisco Public Works recommends that homeowners with pine trees on their property take time to check them for signs of illness. An early sign of Pine Pitch Canker is branch death in the tree’s upper crown. Although infected trees can improve on their own, they occasionally require careful removal to prevent the disease from spreading to nearby pines.
Sudden Oak Death
Another fungal disease common along the coastal areas of California, Sudden Oak Death has been causing the death of a variety of oak species since 1995. It now impacts over 75 different plant species, including Douglas firs, bay laurels, and European beech. Sudden Oak Death spreads easily, even being transferred to new trees by strong wind and rains. It can also spread through contaminated soil or nursery stock. Signs of this disease include leaf spots, twig death, and seeping cankers on the bark of infected trees.
California experienced an extreme drought from 2013 to 2016, and although since then it had some rain, the dry spell doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. In fact, in February 2020, San Francisco didn’t record any rain at all. This was the first rainless February since 1864, a fact that does not bode well for many trees in this region. Droughts of this nature, particularly with higher average annual temperatures, can lead to excessively dry soil and mass tree death.
Does the City of San Francisco Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
The city of San Francisco will not typically provide funding for the removal of trees on private property. However, San Francisco Public Works may take steps to remove a tree that is suffering from a contagious disease such as Pine Pitch Canker. If you spot a diseased tree, whether it is on public property or on someone else’s property, you can report it to SF311. If the tree poses an imminent threat and the property owner is not there to handle it, the city may take steps to remove it. Your local utility company is also responsible for removing any trees that pose a risk to nearby power lines.
However, if you have a tree on your property that you would like to remove, the city will not provide funding. Homeowners insurance will often provide assistance with the removal of fallen trees, but will not generally cover the cost of removing a tree that has not yet fallen, as tree care falls under the category of standard home maintenance.
Since the city of San Francisco is actively focusing on increasing and maintaining the number of trees within city limits, removal is typically a last resort. Often, the city will recommend that a tree be replanted nearby if it is causing problems in its current location. If you do wish to remove a street tree or a tree that is deemed significant, you will need to apply for a permit, which typically costs a minimum of $413. Trees are deemed significant if they are within 10 feet of the property’s edge and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Height of 20 feet or more
- Trunk diameter of 12 inches or more
- Canopy width of 15 feet or more
Who Is Responsible For Fallen Tree Removal in San Francisco?
Figuring out who is responsible for fallen tree removal can be confusing. The answer will depend largely on whether you own the property or not.
If you’re a homeowner?
In most states, including California, responsibility for fallen trees rests on the property owner. This means that if you are a homeowner and a tree falls on your own land, you will be responsible for removing it. Homeowner’s insurance may help you cover the costs of removal in many scenarios.
If you’re a renter?
If you rent your property, your landlord is responsible for maintenance and repairs. As such, they are generally the one who will need to take care of fallen tree removal. If you are struggling to get your landlord to fix this issue, you can file a complaint with a city inspector, who is the only entity legally able to require that your landlord make repairs. You also have the option of filing a petition with the Rent Board to request that your rent be adjusted based on a lack of responsiveness from your landlord.
Because you are not the one who is responsible for removing the tree, your renter’s insurance will not cover the cost of removal. However, renter’s insurance can still be beneficial in this scenario, as it covers the loss of personal property. If the fallen tree has damaged something of yours, renter’s insurance may be able to reimburse you.
If you’re a landlord?
If you are a landlord, you are responsible for the trees on your property. Typically your insurance will cover damages from a fallen tree, although this can become tricky if the tree fell due to negligence. As such, it is important to care for and maintain the trees on your property to ensure that you are not at fault should the tree fall.
If you’re a neighbor?
When a tree falls but it is not on your property, you can report it to SF311. City officials will then contact the person responsible for organizing removal. Unfortunately, if a neighbor’s tree falls into your property, you are typically responsible for handling its removal. The exception is if the tree has fallen due to negligence on the part of the owner, in which case you may be able to prove that they should be held responsible.
How Does the Soil Affect Trees in San Francisco?
San Francisco is a diverse area with three different microclimate zones: the coastal zone, the transition zone, and the bay zone. In the coastal zone, you’ll find sandy and loamy soils. Slightly further inland in the transition and bay zones, there are loam, rock, clay, and sandy soils.
While different tree species vary in the amount of water they require, the soil variations in San Francisco can have a significant impact on overall moisture levels. The sandy soils in the western regions of the city drain rapidly, meaning that trees in this area require much more frequent watering. If allowed to become too dry, sandy soil may become hydrophobic, meaning that it will no longer accept water. Watering agents are available to assist if this should occur, but whenever possible, it is best to water trees in sandy soil two or three times each week to avoid issues.
Alternatively, trees in clay soil require much less frequent watering. Clay soils drain slowly and are prone to water buildup. An excess of water in this type of soil may result in lower levels of oxygen, which can ultimately harm the tree.
Does Weather Affect Tree Health in San Francisco?
This region experiences heavy winds, which can have a detrimental impact on trees. While San Francisco does not commonly experience weather events such as tornadoes, the city is impacted by a phenomenon known as the Diablo Winds. These extreme winds are most common during the autumn months. They originate offshore and move in a northeasterly direction across the Bay Area.
In addition to potentially blowing trees down, the Diablo Winds, and other intense wind events, pose a significant fire risk. Raging wildfires in this area cause significant destruction, burning hundreds or even thousands of acres of land and having a major impact on local ecosystems.
What If Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in San Francisco?
Dead trees near power lines can be very dangerous, as they may cause the power lines to fall. Anybody standing near fallen power lines is at risk of electrocution. Due to the seriousness of this matter, it is the responsibility of local utility companies to consistently trim and monitor trees that are located close to power lines.
In San Francisco, PG&E is the utility company responsible for maintaining power lines and performing regular tree safety inspections. They employ inspectors known as utility foresters, who have advanced training in forestry or a related field. PG&E will perform pruning, and will fully remove trees that are dead or pose too much of a risk. It is important to be aware that the utility company can prune or remove trees even if they are on your property. However, you will not have to pay them for this removal.
How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in San Francisco?
On average, tree removal in San Francisco costs approximately $992. There are several factors that influence this cost.
Size of the Tree
Larger trees increase labor costs, as they are more complex to remove. You may also need to pay higher costs due to San Francisco’s permit requirements for removing larger trees from your property. This will vary from case to case, and we are able to provide accurate quotes before beginning the removal process.
Ease of Access
If your tree is challenging to access, prices can increase. For example, your tree may be close to active power lines, or a crane may be required for safe removal. Trees that are easy to access will be more affordable to remove.
Condition of the Tree
If your tree has already fallen, removal prices are generally much lower. If, on the other hand, your tree is still standing but is in very poor condition, underlying health complications can create additional costs.