It’s not often that you post a story of general interest and live it out yourself a couple of days later. That’s what happened with the post linking to the SF Chronicle story on confusion about the City’s tree maintenance program. Here’s a link to the original Chronicle story.
I came home the other day, feeling pretty good about getting my flu shot and remembering to take my 20% discount coupons into Bed Bath and Beyond. Then I came upon an unexpected sight in front of my house.
With no warning, the tree between my and my neighbor’s house was being pruned by SF Public Works. Only a couple of years ago, we shared the cost ($800) for a professional arborist to trim the tree. With the mantra “The Worst First” playing in my head, I approached Joseph, a SFPW worker, to find out why our tree was chosen for maintenance so soon. It was neither dead nor failing, and it wasn’t encroaching on any power lines — some of the reasons street trees are given priority in the program.
As was described in the Chronicle, a detailed census has been done of the 125,000 street trees in the city.
Joseph explained that the trees are tracked by a grid system. Neighbors are notified if a tree has been given priority for maintenance or removal. If a crew is on a grid that has priority trees in it, they’ll check their lists to see what other trees on the grid might be listed for tending, since they’re in the area anyway. It’s more efficient than hopping back and forth to different areas to maintain a tree here and there.
This was the situation with our tree. In comparison to many other trees, ours was kind of OK, but many branches were drooping due to their weight. The lower hanging ones were blocking visibility to stop signs, and trucks were brushing against them as well. I wasn’t aware of all these hazards; it took the vigilance of the tree crew to recognize them.
I went online to the SFPW website to see what I could find out about our tree, a New Zealand Christmas, common in SF and one of the recommended street trees by Friends of the Urban Forest. This page has a navigable grid map where you can find the trimming schedule for your tree.
Sure enough, I found our tree.
It’s in Prune Grid #228, in Active status, with an Estimated Prune of 2018.
If a resident prefers to maintain their tree/s privately, they can opt out of the city tree maintenance program through the 311 system.
In our case, we were very pleased with the results of our “surprise” tree trim, and the money it will save us in the future.
Just like the earlier part of my day, things were just falling into place.
Postscript: In another twist of fate, I received this door hanger today. It all makes sense now.