Towse: views from the hill

October 31, 2005

Tree ballet redux

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 9:41 pm

I heard the chainsaws this morning as I was downing my daily vitamins — with the passion fruit juice I found at the Marina Safeway the other day. (Ymm!) Chainsaws are not a common sound here in the wilds of Telegraph Hill, unlike they are in the wilds of the Santa Cruz Mountains around, say, Boulder Creek.

I sat out on our spiral fire escape and watched workers having at the trees that stand between us and Teatro Zinzanni, between us and Piers 27-29, between us and the Bay. Sad sight. I like the bit of green that blocks our view of the piers without interfering with our view of Treasure Island. I like watching the conures/parrots flock to these trees and squawk on and pet and kiss and mock on these trees. Noisy creatures — a squabble of parrots, we call them — but fun to watch.

Tree Ballet Redux, I thought. The original Tree Ballet happened just about this time last year.

Turned out, much to my surprise last year, there are no San Francisco ordinances governing trees on private property.

Turned out some of the neighbors were furious about the tree ballet last year that took down a tree that the parrots flock to. (n.b. not nest in, the parrots nest over in the Presidio)

Turned out some of the furious neighbors, and residents elsewhere who were furious with their neighbors for removing trees, were pushing for a city ordinance to cover trees on private property. Could the neighbor down the hill be working on the trees because the proposed new ordinance would curtail his/her right to take out the trees?

As I came back inside, I heard another set of chainsaws elsewhere on the hill. Something must be up.

I searched the Web.

Ah. … Tree preservation to be a decision made by voters
Daly’s controversial plan goes to June 2006 ballot
By Marisa Lagos, Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2005 11:20 PM PDT

A controversial proposal that would require private property owners to ask The City permission before cutting down trees — even those out of the public eye — will be taken straight to the voters, Supervisor Chris Daly announced Tuesday.

A less sweeping plan by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick — which would allow The City to landmark certain trees — will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors next week. The ordinance was shelved Tuesday to allow the City Attorney time to change and clean up some of the legislation’s language.

Daly’s proposal would designate most large trees in The City as a “landmark” and require private property owners to apply for a permit before cutting them down. McGoldrick’s, by contrast, would require private property owners, city residents and city agencies to apply for landmark status for a tree and hold public hearings before it is granted. If passed, Daly’s proposal would immediately affect thousands of The City’s estimated 668,000 trees; McGoldrick’s would apply to an estimated 150-300 trees a year.


At the October 18th meeting, McGoldrick’s proposal was continued again to October 25th. At last Tuesday’s meeting, it was continued again until tomorrow.

Today, the trees just down the hill are coming down.

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.

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