Every Tree Counts...
...that's why it's illegal to remove
OR prune street trees without a permit.
Despite being a common practice, it is illegal to top a tree in San Jose.
What is Topping?
All trees need careful pruning while young and selective pruning as they age. Healthy pruning trims sucker branches from the trunk and main limbs. Harmful pruning and cutting off the tops of trees is like amputation, forever scarring the tree. Topping produces rapid, bushy new growth with weak limbs - opposite of what most property owners want. It's best to hire a reputable, certified arborist to prune your trees.
Learn more from the ISA about why topping is not recommended by experts. Or, view our recommended pruning methods here.
Removal and Pruning - Know the Laws
View the San José City Municipal Code specific to tree removals.
Street Trees (located between the sidewalk and street) are public property, just like sidewalks. You must obtain a FREE permit from the Department of Transportation prior to pruning or removing a street tree by calling 408-794-1901.
Yard Trees (on private property) will require a permit for removal if they are a designated Heritage Tree or have a diameter greater than 18 inches. For a permit, please call the City Planning Department at 408-535-3555.
It is illegal to top trees in San Jose, which may make you subject to fines.
Reporting Illegal Activity
To report unpermitted removal or severe pruning of a street or large yard tree, contact the City of San José call center at 408-535-3500.