Ben Carlson from Friends of the Urban Forest informs us of some extreme pruning on Stevenson Street, near The Armory, that basically leaves the trees for dead. The process, known as topping, is illegal in San Francisco, with fines of $1,754 per tree.
The San Francisco Department of Public Works issued a fine this week of $17,540 to the owner of property in the Mission where trees were “topped” in June. The fine is for $1,754 per tree for 10 topped trees. Topping is an excessive form of pruning that damages and often kills trees, severely diminishes the benefits trees provide, and is illegal in San Francisco (Article 16, Sec. 811 of the Public Works Code).
The DPW and Friends of the Urban Forest were notified by concerned neighbors that the trees, on Stevenson Street adjacent to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, had been “massacred.” One resident observed birds trying to find their nests among the piles of discarded foliage on the ground.
“We’re afraid that incidents of tree topping are likely to rise, because the city is transferring its tree maintenance responsibilities to property owners who don’t know how to care for trees,” said Doug Wildman, program director of Friends of the Urban Forest. “The city’s tree maintenance program is understaffed and underfunded, and consequently our urban forest is in decline. We’re working closely with city officials to identify possible solutions.”
That looks pretty harsh. Why would you want trees that look like that? I happen to really like those trees. Ficus Microcarpa, I believe? They’re what the trees in The Secret Alley are built to resemble. I mean, I’m a plant eater, so obviously I’m not against killing plants, but this just seems lame.
Anyone who sees a tree being topped, or that has already been topped, should report it to the city, along with the address of the tree, the name of the company or individual responsible for the topping (if known), and a digital photo (if possible). Topping may be reported by calling 311, or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Property owners can ensure the proper maintenance of their trees by using only ISA-certified arborists. Friends of the Urban Forest maintains a list of such arborists at http://www.fuf.net/resources-reference/arborist-referrals/.
For more information about the fine for the Stevenson Street trees, or about the city’s urban forestry program, contact DPW spokesperson Rachel Gordon at 415-554-6045.