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Redwood tree near crooked Lombard Street may become a landmark

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This 55-year-old Redwood tree near Lombard Street is on track to receive landmark status.(Steven Ho/Special to S.F. Examiner)

A 55-year-old Redwood tree near the “crookedest” portion of Lombard Street could soon become a landmark near a landmark, pending approval by the Board of Supervisors.

That tree was nominated by neighbor Mari Jaye, who reportedly planted the tree herself in 1962. She’s faced an uphill battle to get the tree landmarked by the Department of Environment’s Urban Forestry Council Landmark Tree Program, as some neighbors have complained the tree is a hazard.

On Friday, the tree won unanimous approval by the council to become a landmark tree, but that decision is not final. A member of the Board of Supervisors must adopt the decision and it must be voted on by the full board.

Though the landmark status is meant to encourage “deeper appreciation” of The City’s trees and would add it to a list of landmarked trees, according to the Department of the Environment, it would also make removing the tree illegal.

That tree is rooted in District 2, under the purview of Supervisor Mark Farrell. This week the Board of Supervisors is on spring recess and Farrell was unavailable for comment.

Roland Jadryev, a San Franciscan who supports landmark status for the tree, said, “We are very pleased by the Urban Forestry Council’s unanimous vote,” and added, “now we need the support of the District 2 supervisor, Mark Farrell, to sponsor the tree’s nomination.”

Though some neighbors spoke in public meetings against the tree previously, public records reveal the fight over its landmark status was perhaps more bitter than seen at first glance.

An email obtained by the San Francisco Examiner from Jaye’s attorney, Matthew Gluck, to the Forestry Council raised concern that Jaye, an elderly woman, was allegedly taken advantage of by a neighbor.

The neighbor, Gluck wrote, asked Jaye to sign an easement for her property without an attorney present. The neighbor presented the easement as a document that would protect her beloved tree, but in actuality, Gluck wrote, it “effectively prevented any future development of any part of Mrs. Jaye’s property by giving [the neighbor’s] property permanent rights to the air, light and view extending from the existing residence, garage and garden ‘to the top of the atmosphere.’”

“Due to her age and fragile condition, and because she trusted her neighbor who appeared to want to help her, Mrs. Jaye acquiesced,” Gluck wrote, “and signed the easement on the spot.”

Gluck, however, later threatened this neighbor with legal action and he released the easement.

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