Renter aims to save South City cypress

South San Francisco — A large Monterey cypress — 13½ feet in circumference and estimated to be more than a 100 years old — is worrying some residents in South San Francisco’s West Winston Manor neighborhood.

The tree is classified as protected under city law, but it doesn’t belong to the city. The cypress stands in the front yard of a private home on a residential street. Two weeks ago, the property owner submitted a request to remove the tree from his yard. Days later, an ad appeared on Craigslist.com asking “the Craigslist Community” to save the tree from being cut down.

The ad was submitted by Barbra Cuva, who rents the property and loves the old cypress.

“The Craigslist community is really good about banding together on environmental issues,” Cuva said. “I was hoping to generate a flurry of calls protesting the removal of this very large tree.”

The ad asked the readers to call the Public Works Department and protest the removal. But Parks and Facilities Superintendent Mary Bates said the department has received only a couple of calls.

An arborist from the department came out to look at the cypress and said he will file his recommendation next week on whether to remove it. If the tree has to be removed, the property owner will have to pay forthe removal and replant new trees somewhere on his property — a process that can cost several thousand dollars. The property owner could not be reached for comment.

As a renter, Cuva is worried that the city will decide to get rid of the cypress.

“Before we go chopping it down, we need to make sure we have exhausted all alternatives,” she said. “If it was my house, I would try to work it out — unless it was ripping out my house, I’d find a way to live with it.”

The tree is causing mild damage to the house next door, where the roots have raised the cement on the driveway. The homeowner, Mike Ghiglieri, said he is worried it will get worse. He says that when he first moved into his home 22 years ago, the tree was often trimmed, but it hasn’t been trimmed for many years.

“It’s not like I don’t like trees,” Ghiglieri said. “But it’s just not for the front of a house.”

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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