Ballot Measure Would Make City Responsible for Public Tree Care

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A few months ago, Bernalwood told you the sad tale of Neighbor Laura from Lundys Lane, a schoolteacher who had just been told she had to foot the bill to pay for the astronomical cost of maintaining a tree that sits on City property next to her house.

That’s standard procedure under the Tree Maintenance Transfer Plan, which puts San Francisco homeowners on the hook to pay for required maintenance on the tens of thousands of streetside trees that used to be maintained by the City.

Now  San Francisco Chronicle reports that D8 Supervisor Scott Wiener plans to introduce a ballot measure that would eliminate costly tree-care bills for homeowners by making the City responsible for sidewalk trees again. The Chronicle says:

It’s the same old story: too many street trees and not enough money to take care of them all.

The city couldn’t afford the maintenance and upkeep for its 105,000 trees, so in 2011 it began transferring ownership to homeowners. Residents often didn’t have the cash for costly pruning and associated sidewalk repairs either. But a new piece of legislation could soon bring relief to those neighbors and infuse about $18 million into the city’s tree maintenance budget.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce a November ballot measure that would mandate that the city take back ownership, maintenance and liability of all street trees. It would be funded by a combination of a progressive parcel tax — one that increases with the property’s size — and an $8 million annual budget set-aside, the average of what has been spent on urban forestry over the past 10 years.

“This has been a festering problem for decades,” Wiener said. “Trees are getting dumped on adjacent property owners who don’t want them, and that’s an unfair burden. For most property owners, they are going to save money. They will pay a $30 or $40 tax, and they will no longer have to hire an arborist or a contractor or insurance.”

All properties must pay the property tax. Properties with less than 25 feet of street frontage would pay $29.50, while those between 25 to 150 feet would pay $1.42 per frontage foot, and properties with more than 150 feet would pay $2 per frontage foot. The average resident or business would pay about $35 annually.

PHOTO: The tree assigned to Neighbor Laura, by Neighbor Laura

Mutant Tree in Holly Park Baffles Bernal Neighbor

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Neighbor Heather is fascinated by a strange little tree in Holly Park that has sprouted a very tall appendage. She says:

I’ve been watching tree in Holly Park for a month or two now. I think it deserves a profile.

The tree has sprouted one “reach for the sky DeVry!” branch that is easily twice the height of the tree. With a little tuffet of 6 or 7 leaves on the end. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. (Well, OK, this is San Francisco and I go to Folsom St Fair every year, so not REALLY… But certainly the weirdest thing in Holly Park.)

Bizarre! Can any of our armchair arborists explain this strange mutation? Here’s the view from a different angle:

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PHOTOS: Neighbor Heather

Supernatural Forces Suspected In Odd Case of Vanishing Fig Tree

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Neighbor Beth is baffled by the sudden disappearance of a fig tree from her enclosed back yard on Gates Street:

We are trying to make sense of the mystery of the missing fig tree.

We planted this fig sapling a few years ago. After losing all of the leaves, it remained a bare stalk for for a year (or two?). When I finally decided I may as well get rid of it, I climbed the slope to find – lo, and behold – it had 2 grown leaves. Miraculous! Since then, it gained about 1 leaf per year and at last count had about 6.

Last week, while Margot Mouse and I were making DIY garden gnomes, we noticed that the fig tree was COMPLETELY GONE. Nothing left but the tag. The rocks around the base were neatly moved aside.

There are some potential witnesses who guard the yard but they won’t talk, not even under the influence of catnip. I thought maybe a kid had broken it and hid the evidence but there’s no trace, nowhere. Animals? We have no deer, goats, or cows. Raccoons starting a garden? Raptured? We remain mystified.

PHOTO: Neighbor Beth

Tuesday: Drink Wine, Eat Cheese, Plant a Tree In Front of Your Glamorous Bernal Heights Home

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Psst. Hey! Want to get a tree in front of your house? Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) has scheduled one of their periodic Bernal Heights tree plantings for September, but the time to sign up to get a tree is now. FUF coordinator Kyle Lemle tells Bernalwood:

We at Friends of the Urban Forest are organizing a tree planting in the Bernal Heights on September 26th.

The deadline to apply for this planting is August 12th. The plantings are a fantastic way to build community, neighbors come and help each other plant their trees, and then join together for a community potluck at the end.

We are hosting a happy hour at Bernal resident John Monson’s house at 185 Lundys Lane, on Tuesday, July 21st. We will serve wine and cheese, answer any tree-related questions, and discuss ideas on how to plant more trees in Bernal Heights.

I will answer tree related questions and make sure we are set for a big neighborhood planting in Bernal Heights! We will have some wine and cheese and brainstorm outreach ideas to get even more trees planted in the neighborhood.

Can you make it?

Tree Planting “Happy Hour” for Bernal Heights
Where: The home of Neighbor John, 185 Lundys Lane (@Virginia), SF
Date: Tuesday, July 21st
Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm

PHOTO: Courtesy of Friends of the Urban Forest

Help a Bernal Neighbor Working to Beautify Part of Mission Street

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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: urbanforestry@sfdpw.org.

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

Neighbor Stumped by Mysterious Trunk of Sidewalk Tree

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Over the break, Neighbor Matthew wondered about the odd tree in front his house on Wool Street:

What’s the deal with the strange Bernal trees that are stumpy on the bottom and narrower on top? See attached photos. I have noticed these while running all over the ‘Wood Hood. This photo is from in front of my house on Wool Street. I’m stumped (wakka wakka wakka) as to whether these trees grow this way naturally, whether they had some sort of disease, or whether a smaller tree was somehow transplanted into a previously larger tree.

Any insight from Bernal’s many armchair arborists?

PHOTO: Neighbor Matthew

With Assist From Local Contractors, Bernal Trees Terrorize Neighborhood Cars

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With help from a team of indifferent landscaping contractors and Sir Issac Newton’s laws of gravitation, there was an awkward interaction on Monday between a few oversize Bernal trees and a few undersize Bernal cars.

Neighbor Janna reports:

Tree cutting (contractors? from city?) on Cortland with no protection to cars below. Is that legal? Not my car, but a neighbors car.

Awww.

As a matter of policy, Bernalwood celebrates the mutually prosperous relationship that has long existed between Bernal trees and our mechanized vehicles. We would hate to see this relationship grow strained for want of a simple tarp. Thus, looking ahead, we trust that these sorts of interactions can be managed more elegantly.

PHOTOS: Neighbor Janna