General Guidance

Decorative or seasonal string lighting along buildings, street trees and street light poles can add vibrancy to your neighborhood or commercial corridor. String lighting is a unique feature that not only promotes safety, but can beautify your block. 

Below provides broad guidance for the main types of string lighting projects a resident or neighborhood group will undertake. For all string lighting, remember to install fixtures following San Francisco Electrical Code, choose the right lighting that can withstand the elements, secure to limit obstructions and at a height that does not impair or impede pedestrian traffic (13.5’ high at minimum), identify a secure power source and consider long term maintenance responsibilities. For projects that are a bit more complicated, with unique light fixtures that cantilever  between multiple buildings and over right-of-ways, public outreach is necessary with impacted neighbors, along with early interface with Public Works, Fire Department and SFPUC for permitting and design guidance.

Permits + Permission

String Lighting Location Permissions / Permitting / Process
On Building / Fencing / Poles (on same property)
  1. Obtain permission from Property Owner
  2. No additional permits needed
Street Trees (adjacent to property)
  1. Reach out to Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry (
  2. Review and follow PW’s guidelines for Street Tree Guidelines
  3. Provide PW contact info and a signed agreement of understanding regarding how hardware maintenance / tree protection
  4. Pay for any and all costs associated with delivery of lights
City Light Poles – Holiday Lights or Displays (or any other alternative lighting use)
  1. Reach Out of SFPUC:
  1. Receive permission for holiday / alternative lights and pay for any and all costs associated with the supply and delivery of lights
Cantilevered between Buildings / Fencing / Poles to Another Parcel or over a Right-of-Way
  1. Obtain permission from Property Owners, for any building where attachments may be made to secure lighting
  2. Obtain SFPUC or PW permission if any attachments are made to City light poles
  3. Review designs and obtain relevant permits from  with SFFD, PW and DBI


Public Works Tree Lighting Guidelines
Linden Alley Project
Building Neighborhood Support (SF Better Streets)