Fremont

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How do I report a tree down on the sidewalk or street?

Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 4:30 pm

Call 510-979-5700

Report Online

Weekend and after hours

Police Non-Emergency (510) 790-6800, # 3.

How long does it take for a tree permit to get approved or denied?

Between two and four weeks.

Why do I need a tree permit?

For many years the City maintained street trees on behalf of property owners. In 2010 due to budget and staffing cuts, the responsibility for maintaining street trees returned to property owners.

While the financial responsibility has returned to the property owner it is still in the City’s interest to ensure that trees are cared for properly and to regulate the removal and/or damage to trees. The tree permit is the mechanism through which we meet this interest, maintain a healthy community of trees, and uphold the Tree Preservation Ordinance  (18.215) because:

  • Trees contribute to the attractiveness and livability of the City of Fremont
  • Mature trees help reduce the impact of buildings and paving
  • Trees contribute to the visual framework, climate control, preservation of other natural resources, property values, a buffer between land uses, and provide a critical element of nature in an urban environment
  • Trees in Fremont collectively constitute an urban forest where individual tree removals can negatively or positively affect the overall City forest

Because of the above stated, it is in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare of the people of the City of Fremont



What is a street tree?

Street trees are any trees growing within the public right-of-way. The boundaries of the public right-of-way vary amongst neighborhoods but generally are ten feet back from a curb or sidewalk. 

Understanding the difference between a street tree and a private tree is important because the 50-50 Street Tree and Sidewalk Programs cover only work associated with street trees.

Typical Residential Street Tree

Typical Residential Street Tree

Typical Business Street Trees

Typical Street Tree in Front of a Business

Who is responsible for maintaining street trees and sidewalks?

For many years the City maintained street trees on behalf of property owners. In 2010 due to significant budget and staffing cuts, the responsibility for maintaining street trees returned to property owners.

Excerpt from Fremont's Tree Preservation Ordinance:

Article II. Duty of Property Owners to Maintain Street Trees and Sidewalks

12.30.200 Maintenance of landscaping along or in the street right-of-way.

(a) The owner of a lot with frontage along a public street must maintain the street trees and other landscaping growing along the frontage or in the street right-of-way adjacent to the lot, including in any park or parking strip between the property line and the street line.

(b) The owner’s obligations under subsection (a) of this section include at a minimum all of the following:

(1) Maintaining the street trees and other landscaping in a good and safe condition as will not interfere with the public convenience or safety in the use of the public street and sidewalk, including:

(A) Ensuring sufficient passage of light from any public street light to the street;

(B) Ensuring a clear height of 10 feet above the surface of the street or sidewalk unobstructed by branches;

(C) Ensuring street signs, parking restriction signs, bus stop signs, and other directional and regulatory signs are not obstructed; and

(D) Removing dead, decayed, or broken limbs or branches that overhang the public right-of-way.

(2) Deep root watering, root pruning, installing root barriers, fertilizing, and pest control.

(3) Clearance, structural, and safety pruning.

(4) Removal of fallen leaves, branches and other debris.

(5) Replacing any removed or otherwise missing street tree as may be required by Article I of this chapter.

(6) Replacing any removed or otherwise missing landscaping if the landscaping was required to be planted by this code or an approved development plan.

(c) An owner owes a duty to members of the public to maintain street trees and other landscaping along the street frontage or in the street right-of-way adjacent to the owner’s property in a safe and nondangerous condition.

(d) If an owner fails to maintain street trees and other landscaping in a safe and nondangerous condition as required by this section, and a person suffers damage or injury to person or property, the owner shall be liable to the person for the resulting damages and injuries.

(e) The city of Fremont shall have a cause of action for indemnity against a property owner for any damages it may be required to pay as satisfaction of any judgment or settlement of any claim from injury to persons or property as a legal result of the owner’s failure to maintain a street tree in accordance with this section. (Ord. 11-2010 § 6, 5-25-10. 1990 Code § 6-2201.)

What criteria do you use to decide if a permit for tree removal will be approved?

A tree removal permit may be issued if one of the following criteria is met:

  • The tree poses a substantial hazard to people or property
  • The tree is dead, dying or has short life expectancy
  • The tree is seriously diseased
  • The tree is part of a group that is overcrowded
  • The tree has caused extensive utility damage (sewer, water main, power lines,etc.)
  • The tree has caused extensive concrete or property damage
  • The tree has been damaged to the extent that it cannot be feasibly restored

A tree removal permit will not be issued:

  • If there is a reasonable alternative to removal (such as maintenance) tree preservation will be prioritized.
  • Dropped leaves or fruit are not valid reasons for tree removal.

Tips for hiring tree professionals


Confirm credentials:  A City Approved Tree Contractor, must be used for all maintenance on, removal of, and/or replacement of street trees. If you are selecting your own contractor for private tree work, ask the contractor to provide their licensure, proof of bonding, and ISA Certified Arborist credentials to ensure that work is performed safely, that your property is protected, and that the integrity of your tree is preserved.

Pay with a paper trail: Pay the service professional with a credit card or check, not cash. Do not make large deposits or upfront payments. Eligibility for the 50-50 Tree and Sidewalk Programs is dependent on proof of payment by check or credit card and the use of an Approved Tree Contractor.

Do your research: Before you hire a contractor, get 2-3 bids for the project. Read ratings and reviews and/or ask around.

Keep written records of everything: Get it in writing: permit numbers, invoices, proof of payment, before and after photos, and all project-related communication. You will need all this documentation to receive your check from the City for 50-50 Tree and Sidewalk Programs.

What is tree topping?

A topped tree versus a healthy tree, please do not top trees


Topping can cause trees to become hazardous 


Why do people top trees?

People don’t know how harmful it is to the tree and they see it as a way to decrease the tree’s size. Certified arborists and other legitimate landscape professionals do not practice tree topping. 

The biggest reasons people choose to top trees are because they want to:

  • Fix trees that interfere with electrical wires.

  • Shorten trees that grow too tall near their home.

  • Prevent the tall tree from coming down in a storm.

These are all good reasons to take action and care for your tree, but tree topping is not the way to do it.

How do I reduce the size of my tree without topping it? 

Hire a professional.  Find a City approved contractor or a licensed arborist.

  • Tree topping is never a justifiable pruning practice; it increases tree health problems and is aesthetically unappealing 
  • A topped tree will require more maintenance and has an increased potential to become hazardous 
  • Hazardous trees are a liability and ultimately the property owner is responsible for any damage hazard trees cause

What if I already have a topped tree? 

In some cases, the tree will have to be removed and replaced. If it is a street tree (a tree between the curb and the street) you may be eligible for the 50-50 Program which helps residents with some of the costs associated with removing and replacing street trees. You will need a tree permit.

Resources 

Can I plant a street tree?

Permits to plant new street trees are only granted to Approved Tree Contractors, If the planting is approved you may be eligible for the 50-50 Street Tree Program and get reimbursed for some of the costs.

What if I am concerned or would like to file a complaint about a neighbor’s tree?

The City does not get involved between neighbors unless the complaint is regarding a breach in municipal code. You may contact us to see if this is the case.  If not, Neighbor law covers the many disputes that may occur between two individuals that live side by side. Do an internet search or consult a book such as Neighbor Law:  Fences, Trees, Boundaries, & Noise by Cora Jordan and Emily Doskow 

The topped tree was here when I purchased the house. Am I still responsible to fix it?

Yes.

In some cases, the tree can be repaired by restoring the canopy through structural pruning. In other cases, the tree may have to be removed and replaced. If it is a street tree (a tree between the curb and the street) you may be eligible for the 50-50 Street Tree Program which helps residents with some of the costs associated with removing and replacing street trees. You will need a free tree permit to be eligible.  

This tree has been pruned like this (topped) for years. Why did I receive a notice about it now?

Fremont has recently done a tree inventory that counted all the street trees in Fremont and assessed each tree’s size, condition, and health. Through this process, we have become aware of trees that have been topped. Topping is a hazardous practice that is not allowed in Fremont.

The tree is alive, why do I need to remove it?

The tree has been inspected by an ISA Certified Arborist who is trained in assessing tree health and risk. The tree has been determined to be beyond a recoverable state.    

Can I do the tree work myself or have my gardener do this?

No. Street trees require a free tree permit and work must be done by an Approved Contractor. Approved Tree Contractors have an ISA Certified Arborist on staff. Proper and safe tree work requires a trained professional.