We all have a stake in greening our neighborhood, but over the long term there are problems to be dealt with. Here is some information about the solution that Friends of the Urban Forest (along with others) is offering. A representative from FUF will be giving a presentation and answering your questions at the August 1st SNA quarterly meeting at St Finn Barr Auditorium (7 p.m.). [Source: http://www.fuf.net/fix/]
Friends of the Urban Forest: Fix the Tree & Sidewalk Mess
Why the system is broken
Over the last 30 years, the City has cut the budget for street tree maintenance and sidewalk repair so deeply that individual trees don’t get inspected or pruned nearly as often as they should. Trees should be pruned every 3 to 5 years, yet the majority of San Francisco street trees are pruned only every 12 to 15 years. This increases the risk for limb drops and tree falls, which endanger people and property.
Compounding the problem, the City’s tree relinquishment program, which transfers responsibility to the property owner, has created confusion as to who is responsible. Additionally, most property owners don’t have the resources, desire or knowledge to maintain the trees in front of their properties — resulting in further dangerous neglect.
Meanwhile, the roots of some street trees have created cracked, uneven and dangerous sidewalks, and many property owners either don’t realize that the city holds them responsible for repairs, or they lack the resources or desire to repair them. This means sizable bills for property owners, liability for trip-and-fall lawsuits and mobility hazards for residents – particularly the elderly and disabled communities.
The Proposed Solution
Friends of the Urban Forest worked with many stakeholders to research best practices and craft the San Francisco Urban Forest Plan, which contains recommendations for a solution that will ensure sustainable funding for regular maintenance that will improve public safety. Under the plan, the City will take back responsibility for the care and maintenance of all street trees, fix all tree-related sidewalk damage (over 90% of sidewalk damage is tree-related), assume liability for trip-and-fall lawsuits, and support the care of trees in public schoolyards.
The program will cost $19M annually — $8M in secured funding from the general fund (based on the City’s current average tree/sidewalk budget) AND $11M from a uniquely structured parcel tax with a progressive rate, based on linear frontage at the curb:
- $29.50 per condo, yearly
- $35.50 per year for typical single family home (25 linear feet)
- $1.42 per linear foot for properties up to 150 feet of frontage
- $2 per linear foot for larger properties over 150 feet (fewer than 1% of parcels)
Polling conducted in March 2016 showed support for the proposed solution. This is good for trees, and great for our residents.