Heart of the City Archives

Beware of falling trees, rising poll numbers
by Hank Donat

Trees always lose the war. It's a theme that came up so often over the past several days as I made my way through the City.

At the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park, sudden oak death has arrived in San Francisco. That the City is the 14th county in the state affected by sudden oak is underscored by the sad irony that the tree disease showed up in a grove dedicated to the men and woman lost to a human disease. In spite of this, the grove is as serene and beautiful as ever.

In the Presidio near West Pacific Avenue, several horizontal eucalypti were visible from the 43 Muni line as improvement projects continue in the northeast part of this national park.

I began to suspect a conspiracy when I arrived home and found workers topping a four-story pine in the inner gardens near my apartment. The tree is a favorite of the Telegraph Hill parrots. It's now a three-story pine, but I'm optimistic that the parrots will still be able to find it.

Next came a press release from David Baker of the ad hoc Tenderloin Tree Campaign. Baker and others were frustrated in their effort to save a 100-foot Norfolk Island pine when a property owner at Ellis and Hyde streets decided it had to go. Says Baker, "Any attempt to save a tree is complicated when it's located on private property. The Bureau of Urban Forestry says nothing can be done." I made a similar discovery a couple of years ago when I inquired about the ring of poplars that was then being removed from Sydney Walton Square, a privately owned park in the Golden Gateway Commons.

Baker says, "This is a disaster for the Tenderloin. It further degrades the area when trees are lost."

My encounters with endangered trees occurred as Republicans in New York appeared to whip up more than just the party faithful with speeches at their national convention in New York. By pointing to the many failures of President George W. Bush and calling them successes, the Republicans appear to be fooling more of the people more of the time.

After returning from the Democrat's convention in Boston, Dr. Lawrence Brilliant told me that the dems are more united than he had ever seen at previous conventions. "In fact," said Dr. Brilliant, "with schisms on issues of abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research, it's the Republicans who are divided over what kind of Republicans they want to be."

As poll results reflect the Bush/Cheney convention bounce, I am increasingly concerned about what kind of America America wants to be.

On Russian Hill, a visit with the rock world figure Dr. Twist revealed more of the same political angst measured against falling timber. Dr. Twist complained bitterly about the poor job an absentee landlord did after the landlord was forced to trim some acacia trees that were blocking a street lamp across from Dr. Twist's apartment.

Next, Dr. Twist shared a story that's all-too familiar along the neighborhood grapevine, where anecdotal evidence of things like increased Ellis Act evictions and worsening Muni service always reaches a fever pitch before hitting the media. It seems a friend of Dr. Twist was Ellis-evicted from his apartment of 20 years in Bernal Heights.

Says Dr. Twist, "The last time I saw my friend he was standing on the side of the street with his stuff like some kind of 'Grapes of Wrath' character."

North Beach activist Marc Bruno will moderate a forum on Ellis Act evictions in the Marini Gym at the St. Francis Shrine, 610 Vallejo Street, this Thursday at 8 p.m.

North Beach has been hard hit by these evictions, which allow property owners to get rid of renters then sell units as tenancies-in-common (TICs). Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Bevan Dufty, and Tom Ammiano are expected to attend the educational forum at the Shrine.

Scooplet: Angela Alioto has been chosen as the Grand Marshall for this year's Italian Heritage Day Parade in North Beach.

Update: The good news is that the Resting Hermes sculpture, which was stolen from the University Club last month, was found in a bar in Crockett and returned to the club. The bad news is that Hermes will stay under lockdown until the club figures out how to securely display it.

Welcome to MisterSF.com. Please visit the site often to keep in touch with San Francisco, for your own amusement, and to use the Local Joints section as a portal for independent businesses. Keep your money in the neighborhoods... Watch this space for observations, interviews and more from around town. All other sections of MisterSF.com are also updated continually, so come back and watch us grow!

Contact MisterSF.com

Copyright 2004 Hank Donat
mistersf.com home