Spray may solve city’s dilemma

Six Pittosporum trees became an allergy nightmare for one Easton Drive resident, but a local arborist says the problem likely has a cheap, hassle-free solution.

Thomas Hornblower first wrote the city in March to request removal of the flowering trees outside his home on Easton at Vancouver Drive. He told the city’s Beautification Commission in May that he is allergic to the tree’s blooms and noted that even the strong citrus smell of the blooms forces him to stay indoors much of the time.

The Beautification Commission is set to take up the issue again at its meeting next week.

Hornblower said he was willing to help fund the cost of removing the trees, which, according to arborist Kevin Kielty, can grow to more than 25 feet tall and are often used in planting strips or are trimmed into hedges to form natural barriers around private properties. The flowers typically bloom in late winter or early spring.

Kielty, who is advising the city on this issue, will suggest the city use an acidic spray to stop the tree from flowering. Interim City Manager Randy Schwartz said the commission will likely get on board with the plan, especially since pruning trees can get expensive year to year. Spraying the six trees will likely only cost $300 annually, Kielty said.

“It keeps the flowers from growing, and at the same time, we don’t have to cut the tree down or constantly be up there pruning it,” Kielty said.

There is currently an acidic spray that tree experts use to stop growth of fruit on olive and gingko trees — which typically prompt plenty of complaints because they leave messy residue on cars, homes and sidewalks. Kielty is hoping to apply this same idea to stop or slow flower growth on trees.

Though allergy-sufferers typically blame their seasonal woes on trees with big or bright flowers, Kielty said pine, oak, redwood and olive trees are often the culprits.

The city has between 16,000 and 18,000 trees, Schwartz said, earning it the nickname “The City of Trees.”

“It really seems like the best solution for everyone at this point,” Schwartz said. “We don’t want to set a precedent for cutting down all our city trees.”

tramroop@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

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

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

A health care worker receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Courtesy SFgov)
SF to open three large sites for COVID-19 vaccinations

Breed: ‘We need more doses. We are asking for more doses’

San Jose Sharks (pictured Feb. 15, 2020 vs. Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center) open the season on Monday against the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis. (Tribune News Service archive)
This week in Bay Area sports

A look at the upcoming major Bay Area sports events (schedules subject… Continue reading

Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Bernal Heights resident, named San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tongo Eisen-Martin becomes San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate

Bernal Heights resident Tongo Eisen-Martin has become San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.… Continue reading

Homeless people's tents can be seen on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner)
Statewide business tax could bring new funds to combat homelessness

San Francisco could get more than $100 million a year for housing, rental assistance, shelter beds

Most Read