Enhancing San Francisco Street Trees Through Friends of the Urban Forest!

August 16, 2016

San Francisco looks and feels drastically different in many neighborhoods due to the efforts of a single, amazing organization: Friends of the Urban Forest.

I remember in the early 90’s, street trees were few and far between, isolated to the very posh neighborhoods. At that time Noe Valley was not one of them! I will never forget the transformation that took place on my block in Noe Valley, just in one single day. We helped plant a Chinese Elm on Elizabeth Street and later a Plum Tree in front of our home on Fulton.

Now out on 47th Avenue, we are again planting a tree because the tree there has become so old it is at the end of its life and needs to be removed. If the tree had been better maintained, its 25 foot canopy might have been able to survive years longer. This is a very costly endeavor and many property owners might not be able to afford to plant and maintain trees in their neighborhoods. This is where the Friends of the Urban Forest can step in and help keep the trees alive in our city.

You may be asking, who is Friends of the Urban Forest. This is a group that believes in the “green infrastructure” that improves and adds beauty to each of our neighborhoods. Along with all of the benefits that trees add to our ecosystem. Still asking questions, please click here for their full mission statement and available programs.

This fall the Friends of the Urban Forest are spearheading a ballot initiative due to an unanimous vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The best part is, this will not include a tax to the parcel homeowners AND because of that, passing this amazing program will only require a simple majority vote by all our friends and neighbors in the city. This measure will require that the City and County of San Francisco take responsibility for the maintenance of all street trees in the city, the repair of all tree-related sidewalk damages, liability for all trip-and-fall lawsuits due to tree-related sidewalk damage, the maintenance of trees in public schoolyards, AND it will also cover the cost of caring for an additional 50,000 new trees in the coming decades. Due to the hard work and creativity among the members of the Board of Supervisors, all the funding will now be acquired from a set-aside budget. The set-aside budget is a requirement that a specific amount of revenue be spent for a specific purpose each year, and ensures the funds will be used for our urban forest mission.

How can you help to get the word out and pass this along? You can join a committee that is sponsored by the Friends of the Urban Forest called the Coalition for Healthy Trees and Safe Sidewalks. Or, check out their website to learn more about volunteering, adopting a tree and support efforts of this great community program.

Painting by friend and client, Myriam Mardinian