City of San Carlos - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Public Works

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Am I, the property owner, responsible for the tree within the planting strip in front of my property?
Yes.  Property owners in the City of San Carlos are responsible for the tree maintenance within the planting strip in front of their property.

Can I remove the tree that is causing the sidewalk to uplift?
The Planning Department issues permits for tree removal. For additional information please visit the City's website.

Do I need a permit to cut down a tree on my own property?
If the tree is a Heritage, Public, or Significant tree (Protected Tree) you need a permit. Call the Planning Division for detailed information at (650) 802-4263 or visit the city's website to view the municipal code. The appropriate section is Chapter 12.20 Maintenance and Removal of Trees on Public and Private Property and 18.18070 Trees.

If the tree is not a Protected Tree, you do not need a permit to remove it from a developed residential property. The following is a list of trees that do not need a permit for removal, regardless of size:

· Bailey, Green or Black Acacia: a. baileyana, a. decurrens or a. melanoxylon

· Tree of Heaven: Ailanthus altissima

· Fruit trees of any kind

· Monterey Pine: Pinus radiate

· Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus globulus (unless a founder tree or group of trees)

Does Public Works have counter hours?
Yes.  Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to 12:00 noon.

How are traffic lights and street light problems reported and to whom?
The City contracts with Cal-West to handle City traffic signal and street light problems.  Any resident can reach them directly at 1-408-923-1313 to report the problem.  You may also call Public Works Department at (650) 802-4140.

When calling in to report issues, street lamp poles typically have pole numbers that consist of 5 digits. (which is about 10 feet up on the pole) It would be extremely helpful if residents can ensure they have the following information when calling it in. 

  • Pole Number
  • Street Address
  •  Nearest Cross Street
  • Original caller’s name and phone number, if possible 

How do I opt into the project?
Opting into the City's project is the most efficient way to have the trip hazards removed from your sidewalk. To opt into the project you do not need to do anything. If we do not receive your letter or acknowledgment form, it will be assumed you would like to be part of the project.

How do I opt out of the project?
To opt out of the project simply fill out the acknowledgement form located at the bottom of the letter and fax, mail, email, or drop off the form to the Public Works Department. Keep in mind, to opt out of the project you MUST submit the acknowledgment form. Following notice from the City, you will have fifteen (15) days to complete the repair yourself. An Encroachment Permit will be required prior to starting any construction. Encroachment Permits may be obtained at the Public Works counter located on the 2nd floor of City Hall at 600 Elm St.  

How long does it take for a street lamp outage to be fixed?
Repair is generally completed within 1 to 5 business days.

I did not receive my invoice, how do I get a copy?
The Finance Department sends out the invoices for project. They can be at 650.802.4213. 

In the event of a broken sidewalk in front of my home, am I responsible to get it repaired or can I get the City to fix it?

In the City of San Carlos, the property owner is responsible for maintaining the area from the curb line to the front property line, including the sidewalk and driveway ramp.

Should the City deem the broken sidewalk a tripping hazard, property owners will be notified in writing to make the necessary repairs to correct the situation.

Property owners can have the repairs done provided they adhere to Chapter 12.04 of the Municipal Code, "Sidewalk, Curb, Gutter and Driveway Construction and Repair."  A permit is required for repairs undertaken by owners or their contractor.

However, if upon notification the owner fails to repair the damaged area, the City will repair the sidewalk and bill the property owner for the costs.

What criteria are required for a sidewalk to need repair?
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) sets the regulations and guidelines for sidewalk maintenance. Per ADA guidelines, a trip hazard is defined as a vertical or horizontal displacement of a 1/4" or more. Trip hazards may be removed by concrete cutting if the concrete is not crushed or broken and has a vertical displacement between 1/4” to 1 – 1/2”. Concrete that is crushed or broken will need to be removed and replaced. For more information feel free to visit the United States Access Board website at

What is concrete cutting?
Concrete cutting, also called "shaving", is a form of repair used for raised portions of sidewalk. Rather than removal and replacement, the contractor cuts or shaves the trip hazard off creating a ramp. This is a more cost effective method of repair. Most cuts range between $20 and $50. A typical flag or square of sidewalk may cost up to $300 to remove and replace.

Figure 1 Completed Sidewalk Cut
Completed Sidewalk Cut

Where can I get a debris box and do I need a permit?
Debris boxes are made available through various vendors.  Please see the Yellow Pages under - Rubbish Containers and Hauling.  The vendor you choose MUST have a San Carlos Business License.

In addition, residents will need to apply for an Encroachment permit from Public Works Department.  The current fee is $55.00, to be made payable to the City of San Carlos.  We accept cash, check and credit cards (Visa or MasterCard). 

Where can I get additional information in regards to the sidewalk program?
The best place to get information in regards to the City's sidewalk program is the City’s website. Here you will find background information, repair types and a video describing the potential risks and liabilities for property owners and damaged sidewalk.

Where can I pick up sandbags?
During heavy storm season, San Carlos residents and merchants can pick up a maximum of ten (10) sandbags at the open parking lot of the Corporation Yard located at 1000 Bransten Road.  It will be made available to the residents from 7am-2pm Monday-Friday.  There will be sand, bags and a shovel for residents and merchants to bag it yourself.  For more information, please call the City General Services Department at (650) 802-4140 during business hours and (650) 802-4321 on holidays,
weekends, and after hours.

Sandbags are only available to San Carlos residents during the storm season. Should you require them off season, check with Home Depot and other home improvement stores for availability.

Who do I call if there are shopping carts dumped in the streets, lots, etc?
There are many retail stores that do not use Cart Service companies.  Residents are encouraged to call the retail store directly; they are more than willing to retrieve their carts.  If not, please call the City General Services at (650) 802-4140.

See below for a list of contact numbers for local in-town stores:

  • Bianchini's Market - 810 Laurel Street - (650) 592-4701
  • Longs #172 - 11 El Camino Real - (650) 595-8505
  • Longs #471 - 1324 San Carlos Ave - (650) 591-7602
  • Lucky Supermarket- 1133 Old County Rd- (650) 637-1780
  • PepBoys Auto - 1087 Old County Rd - (650) 632-1522
  • T.J. Maxx - 1251 Industrial Rd - (650) 508-8381
  • Trader Joe's - 1482 El Camino Real - (650) 594-2138

Below is a list of adjacent city stores that uses cart service:

  • Costco Wholesale - 2300 Middlefield, RWC - (650) 364-2750
  • Safeway Food & Drug #1136 - Belmont - (408) 629-6030

Who do I call if there is a dead animal that needs to be picked up?
Please call the Peninsula Humane Society's Animal Control Division at (650) 340-7022 Ext. 5.  They will pick up big carcasses such as deer, racoon, etc. on public properties only.  NOTE:  PHS will not pick up dead animals on private properties.  If the animal is small such as a mouse, rat or a bird, they kindly ask of the residents to dispose of it in a plastic bag and put in the trash. 

However, If you're not able to dispose of it and it's on your property, please call the following companies who can provide this type of service for a fee:

  • San Jose Tallow  (408) 452-8777
    This company provides dead animal pickup service.  A service was provided to a San Carlos resident for a fee of $100 to pick up a dead deer in the back of her property.
  • Critter Control  (408) 226-6162
    This company also provides dead animal pickup service for the City of San Carlos.

Please remember to call for current fees/rates.

Who do I call to report the following:  potholes, noisy manhole lid covers, debris in roadway, foreign materials or substance in street, roadway obstruction, excess water flow, street sign blockage, fallen trees?
Please call the City's General Services Department at (650) 802-4140.

Who do I contact for sewer back-up emergencies?

There are two numbers to call, depending on the time of day.

  • During week day hours, call (650) 802-4140.
  • After hours and weekends, call (650) 802-4321.
A Public Works crew will be sent out as soon as possible.

Who do I contact for sewer back-up or flood emergencies?
There are 2 numbers to call, depending on the time of day:

  • During business hours from 7:00 - 3:30, Monday thru Friday, please call (650) 802-4140.
  • After business hours, on weekends and holidays when City Hall is closed, please call Police Dispatch (650) 802-4321.  A public works crew will be sent out as soon as possible.

Who is responsible for downtown garbage cans pick up?
Allied Waste Services (formerly BFI) is contracted by the City to provide garbage pickup in the downtonw area.  Citizens are encouraged to call the City General Services Department at (650) 802-4140 or Allied Waste at (650) 592-2411 to obtain garbage pick-up schedule and the routes for their street.

For complaints or unresolved issues about garbage service, please contact Nekaya Nachmann at (650) 802-4229.

Who is responsible for street sweeping services?
Contract Sweeping Services is contracted by the City to sweep all City streets.  Under the terms of the street sweeping contract with Contract Sweeping Services, the sweeping service level is as follows:

  • Industrial Area: 
    Howard Avenue North - On Fridays
    Howard Avenue South - On Mondays
  • Commercial Area:  Every Monday and Friday
  • Industrial Area:  1st & 3rd Fridays of the month
  • Residential Area I - Flat:
    Holly Street North, East of Old County - 1st & 3rd Wednesdays
    Holly Street South, East of Old County - 1st & 3rd Wednesdays
    Brittan Avenue South - 1st & 3rd Tuesday
    Brittan Avenue North - 1st & 3rd Wednesday 
  • Residential Area II - Hills: 
    Brittan Avenue North - Every 1st Thursday of the month
    Brittan Avenue South - Every 3rd Thursday of the month 
  • Parking Lots:  Every Monday and Friday
    Wheeler Plaza
    Williams Plaza
    Clark Plaza
    South Plaza
    Corporation Yard - Fridays only

Citizens are encourage to call the City General Services Department at (650) 802-4140 or Contract Sweeping Services at (1-800-647-9337) to obtain the sweeping schedule and the routes for their specific street location.

Why am I responsible for sidewalk maintenance?
The California Streets and Highways Code chapter 22 originally placed the financial responsibility of sidewalk maintenance onto the property owner. San Carlos Municipal Code chapter 12.04 places the financial responsibility and liability of sidewalk maintenance onto the property owner.