Heritage Trees

In 1968, the City Council adopted a Heritage Tree Ordinance to preserve the great trees in the City and to encourage planting additional trees. Heritage trees are living landmarks and are the backbone of San Mateo’s urban forest.

Heritage Tree Definitions:

  1. Any Oak, Bay, Redwood, Buckeye, or Cedar, having a trunk diameter of 10 inches or more, measured at 4 feet (48 inches) above ground level.
  2. Any tree with a trunk diameter of 16 inches or more, measured at 4 feet (48 inches) above ground level.

Need help figuring out the diameter of your tree?


See our Tree Diameter Measuring Instructions

Heritage Tree Regulations


A permit is required to remove or prune a Heritage Tree. You can apply for a permit by submitting a completed Tree Work Application.

Unless you have a permit issued by the City of San Mateo, It is unlawful to:
  • Remove a Heritage Tree.
  • Prune more than one-quarter of the crown or existing foliage.
  • Remove more than one third of the root system.
Find more answers to your Heritage Tree questions with our Heritage Tree FAQ’s.