Help a Bernal Neighbor Working to Beautify Part of Mission Street


One of the most conspicuous things you notice when you look at older (pre-1970) photos of San Francisco is that there were far fewer trees in our open spaces and along our streets. The city looks somewhat more harsh, and vastly more naked. Tree-planting has done a lot to make our glamorous urban lifestyles more lovely, but some parts of Bernal Heights have not yet received an arboreal upgrade.

Neighbor Erik Williams is leading the charge to get some trees planted along the College Hill stretch of Mission Street, and he could use your help. Neighbor Erik writes:

I live on Mission Street in Bernal Heights, very close to St Mary’s Pub.

I’m currently working with the SF Department of Public Works to have trees planted along Mission between Crescent and Park streets. I feel this would improve the look of the neighborhood. The city is supportive, and we have a good advocate within the department. However, we need other residents to contact the DPW to show support in order to get the plantings funded.

Mission Street is a vital corridor for Bernal Heights, and we have an opportunity to convince the city to invest in making Mission Street more beautiful. DPW will evaluate the corridor for tree planting, provided those of us in the neighborhood write in to show our support.

Although much of Mission Street is tree-lined as it runs through Bernal Heights, there are no trees along the 3800 block, from Crescent Ave to Park St. This area is the top of College Hill, where the Bernal subregions of Holly Park, St Mary’s Park, and College Hill border each other. This area includes many local business such as St Mary’s Pub, Giovanni’s Pizza Bistro, and Balompie Café.

We want to make this a better neighborhood for families and children, and we need your support. Please write in support of this tree planting for the 3800 block of Mission St by emailing the SF department of Public works at:

I’ve created some images to show how the plantings could look. As I’m sure Bernalwood readers will agree, the addition of the trees would add appeal and vibrancy to the neighborhood.

Please take a few minutes to write in and support the tree planting. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

PHOTOS: via Neighbor Erik

18 thoughts on “Help a Bernal Neighbor Working to Beautify Part of Mission Street

  1. Thanks for posting, Todd! Erik, I owe you an email. I’d be happy to rally some letters of support.

    One question: Would Public Works be watering and maintaining these trees? Or would each property owner be responsible for their tree? (That’s been a sticking point when we’ve tried to get trees planted along Mission in the past, especially with absentee landlords.)

    Thanks, and looking forward to working with you,

      • Thanks, Doug. We in College Hill have had “free tree” money in the past year (greening grants from Supervisor Wiener and AT&T’s cable cabinets) to plant trees and sidewalk gardens at:
        • 3800 Mission (Marina’s Beauty Salon and apartment building, on both Mission and Richland sidewalks);
        • 3798 Mission (New College Hill Market and apartment building, on both Mission and Richland sidewalks);
        • 3444 Mission (formerly JJ Shoe Repair and apartment building, on both Mission and College);
        • Anywhere in between these addresses and all the way north to Highland on Mission

        But property owners refused to sign the DPW/FUF permits for free trees (which neighbors were willing to help water) because long-term maintenance of the trees and surrounding sidewalks currently falls to the property owners.

        I doubt we’ll sway those absentee landlords—or any holdout property owners—until the City takes back ownership and maintenance of street trees and sidewalks, which Supervisor Wiener has proposed as part of the Urban Forestry Plan:

        Click to access UrbanForestPlan-121814_Final_WEB.pdf

        To fund that plan (and both tree and sidewalk maintenance), keep an eye out on this fall’s or next fall’s 2016 presidential ballot for a $45-$85 parcel tax or City General Fund set-aside:

        (Personally, I’d happily pay $45-$85 to have my tree maintained by a certified arborist and my sidewalk repaired by the City if there’s any root-cracking issues. That’s a steal.)

  2. Depends on how it’s done. 24th Street east of Mission is full of trees that are huge and block out all the sunlight along the street. The roots are also tearing up the sidewalks.

    One problem with the street trees is that the city misleads people into thinking that since they’re on city property the city will take care of them. Not so. The trees must be maintained by the property owners adjacent to the trees, but they have to get city permission to prune them or to get them replaced should they become diseased or die.

  3. I wrote in support, but that doesn’t mean that the “who maintains it” question isn’t valid. The city pulls a lot of this “you own this but you have to maintain it, but you have to ask us before you do” bullshit, and it’s not really cool for us to all lobby to put work on some private individual’s plate. Maybe I should have put that in the email.

    • The city “pulls” that “bullshit” because as a citizenry we refuse to pay for services. DPW is horribly underfunded. We fill potholes through bond measures and contract work rather than actually fund our civil service sector.

      Luckily, DPW knows its role and won’t undertake projects that won’t be maintained either by its agency or the property owners. Your not mentioning that in your email won’t have mattered.

      • Yes. What I’m really saying is that I wish my F35 Joint Strike Fighter tax money could go to the sidewalks and the school district instead. (And some other things too). And I wish corporations paid property taxes. So yes; I get that we underfund our local government.

        The one thing I hear is that people who aren’t in the tech industry are hurting because it’s really expensive to live here. Nowadays; I even hear it from people within the tech industry. Nailing those families for sidewalk or tree maintenance still isn’t good policy, or very nice. I (even if others don’t) want to maintain the diversity and accessibility of this city, and we ought to look for ways to ease burden on them.

  4. Currently, many of the beautiful old trees on Folsom Street are have signs on them stating that the City is planning to transfer them to the owners. DPW is claiming that due to budget cuts, they are transferring thousands of trees away from City care to the neighboring property owners; all but the ones in the medians. This course of action is not recommended by the City’s own plan on trees. We are organizing a group to try to convince the City that it should continue to care for the trees in this neighborhood and across the City. Adding costs and labor to existing homeowners/landlords for an amenity that is used and enjoyed by all isn’t the way the way to protect and nurture our trees. Email if you are interested in joining our efforts to ensure the trees we already have remain healthy.

  5. Make sure you survey all utilities below the planting area AND if possible, plant trees that don’t have destructive root systems (is there such a thing?) My “welcome to Bernal” was a letter from FUF warning me of a $1500 fine if I even harmed a leaf on the tree. A few months later, the other “welcome to Bernal” was a $6,000 sewer pipe replacement caused by the tree roots. 11 years later, the roots have caused more damage and another $5000, so maybe the $1500 fine would have been more economical instead of the $11,000 spent on sewer line work. We have trees up and down our little street; I do like them and appreciate the benefits, but we also have broken and raised sidewalks from all the root damage.

    • Definitely go with FUF we had it done on Showell/Mirabel 20+ yrs ago, mostly jacaranda (sp?) trees, have had no problems, shallow roots, have not required much upkeep and no watering after established.

  6. What about the beauty of the Victorian architecture of those old buildings? What about the blocked view on those commercial buildings that will have their store front and signage obscured? I love trees but I don’t think this will “beautify the city”. It should be the property owners decision.

  7. Pingback: Remember When Bernal Hill Was Naked and Treeless? | Bernalwood

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