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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 Street Tree in Front of a Business
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:
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 non-dangerous condition.
(d) If an owner fails to maintain street trees and other landscaping in a safe and non-dangerous 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.)
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.
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:
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
A tree removal permit may be issued if one of the following criteria is met:
A tree removal permit will not be issued:
Due to current workloads, there may be delays in the processing of permit applications. While the Urban Forestry Section attempts to provide a 2-4 week turnaround, please allow for the full 4 weeks before reaching out to check status of an application. Calls to the Program team should be returned or responded to within 2-3 business days. Thank you for your patience
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.
Hire a professional. Find a City approved contractor or a licensed arborist.
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.
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.
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 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.
Police Non-Emergency (510) 790-6800, # 3.
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.
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
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.