Hearing will focus on the challenges resulting from the program to transfer ownership and maintenance responsibilities for street trees from the city to private property owners
San Francisco, CA - Today, Supervisors David Chiu and Scott Wiener will call for a hearing on San Francisco's ongoing program to transfer ownership of all street trees from the city to private property owners. This program, which was enacted by the Department of Public Works after years of budget cuts, has shifted the maintenance responsibilities for street trees to adjacent property owners. This has subjected a large number of San Francisco's more than 105,000 street trees to inconsistent and negligent maintenance practices.
"Our street trees are a vibrant part of our urban environment and a key to a healthier city," said David Chiu, President of the Board of Supervisors. "But this ownership transfer program has caused a significant impact on residents in my district and trees on our streets continue to fall down and cause real damage. Street trees are too valuable to be treated as an afterthought - we need to find a more sustainable way to take care of our urban forest."
"This flawed program shifts the care of our city-planted trees onto property owners who didn't plant the trees and may not know how to take care of them," said Supervisor Wiener. "We hear again and again that this program isn't working. It's dumping our public responsibility onto private property owners, all while jeopardizing the health of our urban forest. Investing in our trees is an investment in cleaner air and a better city. We must do more."
Supervisor Wiener previously held a hearing in 2012 to look at this program, as well as other broader issues surrounding trees in San Francisco. At the hearing, the Planning Department presented the Urban Forest Master Plan, which was completed with the assistance of the Department of Public Works, the Recreation and Parks Department and community organizations, such as Friends of the Urban Forest. One component of the plan recommended different paths for the city to reassume ownership of the trees. However since that hearing, more trees have been relinquished to private property owners but no solutions have been presented to fix this program.
This hearing will take place at the Land Use and Economic Development Committee.