Don’t Panic, But Two Trees Were Removed from Bernal Hill Yesterday


Yesterday Bernalwood received an alarming news flash via our Twitter red phone: A work crew was hard at work on the top of Bernal Hill near Sutrito Tower,  chopping down some of the trees.


We dispatched the Bernalwood Action News Satellite Uplink Miata to rush to the scene. When we arrived, the work crew was already gone, but two freshly cut stumps were all that remained of the former trees.


Sadness! Confusion! Anxiety!

Bernal Hill is public parkland, so Bernalwood reached out to San Francisco Rec and Park see if they could explain what the f*&^$#*ck had just happened. Connie Chan, Rec and Park’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs, responded with this statement:

As we have already mentioned earlier in September, the Department has been in the construction planning process to renovate and improve the Bernal Heights Trails. In the meantime, we are working with a contractor to complete abatement work for a few trees that were assessed as potential hazards.

Two dead trees near the top of the hill are expected to be removed (their branches were already removed by our staff to minimize hazardous conditions), and one Evergreen Ash tree on the west slope of the hill is planned to be pruned to remove or reduce the length of the stem with decay.

As you can see on the map shown via the web link, the red circles are the the two removals, and the tree still to be pruned is the yellow circle.

Bernal_Tree Work map.pdf

Okay, that’s good to know. Rec and Park didn’t exactly do a great job of proactive outreach beforehand, so our collective panic was perhaps to be expected. Nevertheless, we’re glad to know the tree removals atop Bernal Hill are now complete, so we trust there will be no more unpleasant surprises in the days and weeks ahead.

Oh yeah, and PS: All this is happening as part of the Bernal Hill Trail Improvement Plan we told you about waaaaaaaaaaay back in 2012.

PHOTOS: Top, @BernalJournal. Stumps by Telstar Logistics

24 thoughts on “Don’t Panic, But Two Trees Were Removed from Bernal Hill Yesterday

  1. FYI There was a notice posted on the tree for a month or so explaining the trees were to be removed in October.

    • Yeah, that’s what I understand, and Rec Park followed standard procedure. However, these are not really standard trees — they are extremely high profile, in the most literal sense of that term. So the standard procedure didn’t work so well for much-loved trees that most Bernalese typically admire from a distance.

  2. They put several notices in on the hill…and on the actual trees. Can they plant more?

  3. That’s good news! However, in my 25 years of Bernal Heights experiences, notices seem to mean one thing, and then, without warning, they turn out to mean another. Semantics. Undisclosed truths. Covert plans. Partial information. I look forward to NOT hearing future corrections to this information.

  4. I came here to mention that I’d seen the tree removal notice (thanks others for mentioning).

    I do think, though, that a flyer or two is pretty minimal in terms of letting people know what’s going on. A similar thing recently happened at Holly Park, when all the mature rock rose around the stairs near the dragonfly sculpture was quietly removed. I asked Parks & Rec if it was removed to make room for something else, or if there were other plans, but never heard back from them. I’m fine with maintenance including removal of plants and so forth, but it would really be nice to be able to routinely find out about these activities instead of just wondering about what will appear next.

    • The Park and Rec does not need to make sure every concerned person is notified about changes. They are doing their job as best they can, and there’s really no one on the local staff to answer every busybody’s concerns. They are pros at what they do, and some of it will bother you, while some of it will make you happy. A little trust goes a long way.

  5. More is to come, yesterday (October 7th, 2015) the SF Parks & Rec Board approved a resolution that the City fund $1,100,000 for the Bernal Heights Trails Project. This is to address the often confusing methods people use to get to the summit and reduce erosion in gullies appropriated as trails.

    From the meeting minutes —

    “Staff recommends that the Recreation and Park Commission 1) adopt a resolution to apply for a Recreational Trail Program Grant for the Bernal Heights Park Trails Improvement Project in the amount of $1,100,000 from the California Department of Parks and Recreation 2) if awarded, recommend that the Board of Supervisors authorize the Recreation and Park Department to accept and expend a Recreation Trail Program Grant in the amount up to $1,100,000 from the California Department of Parks and Recreation.”

  6. Thank you for caring about the trees. Without the trees we’d be nothing. I’m glad that on our recent Ecosex Walking Tour of Bernal Hill we took our group to those exact trees and gave them lots of love and hugs. Sad to see them go. They were such great trees. Appreciate your report. Hope they plant some new ones.

  7. Those trees were completely dead! They shouldn’t even have to post dead trees. One failed in a storm late last year and was leaning on the other, which was already dead. Parks and Rec could have left the broken snags in place looking as awful as the “slingshot” tree down by Folsom.

    Thank you, Parks and Rec! I hope they get the one by the water fountain (also above a walkway to the park) next. It is also completely dead.

    With the El Nino we might have, expect emergency tree removals through the winter as they drop limbs and fall. Look up folks. Look at the dry eucalyptus dying back from their tops and lateral branches. Look at the brown pines that are all over SF and lining our highways up and down the peninsula.

    Taking down trees is expensive and unpopular. If they’re coming out, it’s probably for a good reason.

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