Tree upkeep tough task for limited staff

More than two years after a tree that already had been reported as dangerous fell on a woman in Stern Grove, the Recreation and Park Department has adopted a proactive strategy to address distressed trees.

The problem of The City’s aging trees was thrust into the spotlight in 2008 after a falling redwood branch killed a 50-year-old woman who was walking her dogs in Stern Grove. It had been identified in a 2003 survey as one of 603 hazardous trees in the park, yet it was never pruned.

When the accident occurred, Rec and Park already had begun looking at ways it could improve its tree-maintenance strategy, and the department was eyeing ways to spend $4 million in bond money on that task. That money is just now beginning to be spent. Contractors have been hired to prune and remove trees in certain parks and reforest other areas, according to a Rec and Park spokesman.

However, the staff of arborists is so small it would take them more than 50 years to inspect and respond to every tree in San Francisco’s parks.

As it stands, Rec and Park’s 13 tree-care staff members decide which trees to prune or remove simply based on suggestions or complaints by gardeners and residents, according to the report, written by city contractor HortScience. This reactionary strategy appeases the immediate concerns of the public, but leaves thousands of trees uninspected and untreated as they age.

The report recommends shifting to a 50 percent response, 50 percent programmed-management strategy.

Bay Area NewsLocalRecreation and Park Departmenttrees

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

Just Posted

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Passengers ride the 14-Mission Muni bus on Friday, March 12, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit officials fear Free Muni pilot could hurt already-strained service levels

Supporters say fare cuts could increase ridership, help low-income residents

The vacant property at 730 Stanyan St. in the Haight currently houses a safe sleeping site for the homeless. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Affordable housing project on former McDonald’s site delayed as city adds units

The start of construction on an affordable housing project on the site… Continue reading

Visitors read a notice hanging on the Polk Street entrance to City Hall on Thursday, March 26, 2020, shortly after the building was closed. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City Hall reopening to the public on June 7 after long closure due to COVID-19

San Francisco will reopen City Hall to the public on June 7… Continue reading

Historic streetcars are undergoing testing on The Embarcadero to prepare for their return to service on May 15.<ins></ins>
What to expect for Muni Metro’s relaunch on May 15

Significant service restoration includes downtown subway tunnels and historic streetcars

Most Read