For arborists, danger just part of the job

Some people may question a day job that requires standing at the edge of a steep hillside while grasping onto a growling chain saw.
But that’s just a day at the office for San Francisco’s arborists.

On Wednesday, three veteran arborists with the Department of Public Works appeared unfazed as they cut into trees that had grown awkwardly out of an acacia tree stump on a daunting Telegraph Hill slope.

Their courageous balancing act helped quash neighborhood fears that the weight of the dangling trees would cause erosion or a damaging landslide, said Carla Short, an urban forester for Public Works.

Trees are known to stabilize hillsides, but the sprouted stump beneath Alta Street had created a unique problem, she said.

“The suckers had gotten so big that we were afraid the whole thing might come down,” Short said.

But the difficult-to-reach hillside was of little concern to the arborists, who have each been in the business more than 20 years.

One arborist balanced at the cliff’s edge, cutting into the trees with a chain saw and fastening ropes around them. The other end of the rope was attached to a Public Works truck, which when put into reverse pulled the trees up from the hillside and onto Alta Street.

Public Works has 10 full-time arborists who are responsible for maintaining 40,000 trees that grow from public rights of way in San Francisco, Short said. Property owners are responsible for about 68,000 trees, she said.

Not all jobs require a fearful balancing act, but arborists don’t seem to mind the periodic thrills of the job.

“A guy that’s afraid of heights does not belong in the trees,” arborist Nili Niu said.

Besides, few offices in the nearby Financial District could offer the views the arborists enjoyed atop Telegraph Hill on Wednesday, Niu said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalSan Franciscotrees

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Officer Nicholas Buckley, pictured here in 2014, is now working out of Bayview Station. <ins>(Department of Police Accountability records)</ins>
SF police return officer to patrol despite false testimony

A San Francisco police officer accused of fabricating a reason for arresting… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced that funding would be diverted from the police budget toward the black community in June 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City directs $60 million toward Black community services and housing support

San Francisco released new details Thursday for how it plans to spend… Continue reading

The Stud, The City’s oldest gay bar which is vacating its longtime home at Ninth and Harrison streets after more than 50 years, on Thursday, May 21, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City’s nightlife recovery fund approved but struggling business owners fear relief may come too late

As San Francisco’s nightlife scene approaches nearly a year of a complete… Continue reading

Riordan Crusaders versus St. Ignatius Wildcats at JB Murphy Field on the St. Ignatius Prepatory High School Campus on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)
State allows high school sports to resume, but fight is far from over

For the first time since mid-March 2020, there is hope for high… Continue reading

Most Read