Report Diseased Pine Trees

(August 30, 2010)

New pine pitch canker recommendations announced

In an effort to identify potential public safety risks posed by diseased

Pine trees, the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the City's Urban Forestry Council are asking property owners to inspect the condition of pine trees within their property or on their sidewalks that appear dead or whose branch tips in the upper crown of the tree begin to die, the first sign of a regional fungal disease.

San Francisco lies within the zone of infestation for Pine Pitch Canker, which affects many pine species, especially the Monterey Pine commonly found in San Francisco and significantly impacted by the tree disease.

Some trees can live many years with some symptoms and even improve over time and do not require removal. The City recommends hiring an arborist to monitor the tree and if removal is required, the City may waive removal fees for trees on the public right of way.

The Board of Supervisors and the City's Urban Forestry Council adopted some of the state's Pitch Canker Task Force management recommendations for trees infected with pine pitch canker. The Pitch Canker Task Force is a sub-committee of the California Forest Pest Council, an advisory to the State Board of Forestry.

State recommendations include:

  • Prune your Tree. Some infected pines do recover, even if they are severely diseased. Pruning does not slow the spread of the disease in a highly infested area, however, it can be used strategically to enhance the aesthetic quality of a tree and thereby delay its removal from the landscape.
  • Delay removal, if no public safety threat is present. Because trees may recover, their removal should be delayed as long as possible and only trees that pose a hazard should be cut down.
  • Plant a different tree species. In areas where Monterey pine is not native (including San Francisco), select pines that are resistant to pitch canker or other nonsusceptible trees for replanting.

In addition to the state's recommendations, the City recommends that property owners:

  • Hire a licensed professional arborist who is certified with the International Society of Arboriculture to regularly inspect their pine trees and follow their recommendations.
  • If a tree has been killed by pine pitch canker, the tree should be removed immediately. If large limbs have been killed, they should be removed immediately. Dead trees or limbs can fall and injure people or cause property damage.
  • Unless you need to mitigate an immediate safety hazard, prune pine trees when bark beetles are less active from November to February to reduce the spread of the disease.

The public is urged to call 311 or go to if they suspect any pine tree is dead or severely infected with the disease.

A permit is required from DPW to remove any street tree in San Francisco. Generally, a permit is not necessary if the tree is on private property, though a permit to remove the tree may be required if the tree is located within 10 feet of any public right-of-way.

Pine trees are among San Francisco's most mature trees. It is estimated that of the 108,000 street trees in the city, only one percent are mature trees. Mature trees provide increased environmental and aesthetic benefits, such as stormwater diversion, pollution absorption, wildlife habitat and increased property values.

More information is available at

DPW is responsible for the care and maintenance of San Francisco's streets and much of its infrastructure. The department cleans and resurfaces streets; plants and maintains City street trees; designs, constructs and maintains city-owned facilities; inspects streets and sidewalks; constructs curb ramps; removes graffiti from public property; and partners with the diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco to provide stellar cleaning and greening services. SF Environment -- San Francisco's Environment Department -- is a collection of visionary environmental professionals who are dedicated to helping all San Francisco residents and businesses take an active role in protecting and enhancing their urban environment.