Noe Valley getting greener

Property owners in area plant trees, hope arboreal growth will attract business

Building owners on 24th and Noe streets were up early on a recent Wednesday planting trees along their sidewalks, hoping the extra green would attract more people to their neighborhood.

The recently formedNoe Valley Association of Commercial Benefit District spearheaded the effort to plant 32 trees, ranging from sycamores to flowering cherries, in front of the restaurants and businesses along 24th Street.

Debra Niemann, the executive director of the association, said a study done by the Wharton School of Business found that a “healthy tree canopy increases foot traffic, attracts shoppers and reduces petty crime.” Mei Ling Hui, of Friends of the Urban Forest, said another study conducted by the University of Washington showed that business areas with trees see an increase in sales of 12 percent. The Wharton study says traffic is increased because residents feel safer in neighborhoods with trees, since they make the area more inviting and also reduce noise and improve health.

“It’s the best way you can improve public space,” Niemann said. “It’s just the aesthetics that trees provide. It can bring shade and cool on a hot day.”

Businesses and building owners are committed to beautifying the neighborhood so much that they agreed to have an additional fee added on their annual property taxes to pay for planting the trees, as well as cleaning the streets and maintaining benches and garbage cans. The tax varies based on the square footage of each building, but Niemann said on average building owners pay $900 a year for the service.

The newly founded association is part of a larger movement across The City to establish community benefit districts to help maintain neighborhoods. The Board of Supervisors, which must sign off on every benefit district, recently agreed to let the Fillmore neighborhood form The City’s seventh district.

The association plans to plant another 40 trees on the street in November. They have identified that they need to plant 98 trees in the area to achieve maximum benefit.

The City could use more trees, according to Hui, who said San Francisco is not as green as other majorcities in the country.

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