Sierra Club Position on Market Street Tree Removals

From: Hunter Cutting <>
Date: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 6:38 PM
To:” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, Aaron Peskin <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, Gordon Mar <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>
Cc:” <>, Becky Evans <>
Subject: Sierra Club on proposed Market Street tree removals

San Francisco Group of the San Francisco Bay Chapter

28 July 2021

Dear Supervisors, Directors, and Colleagues:

The Sierra Club is deeply concerned about a pair of proposals to remove hundreds of trees from the Market Street area, driving the loss of the street tree canopy and Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly habitat on Market Street.  It is extraordinary that at a time when the destructive impact of climate change is in the news every day, simple measures are not being implemented to counter the environmental damage of removing trees and established habitat.

BART Station Canopies: BART applied to SF’s Department of Public Works to remove nearly 50 trees to facilitate installation of its new entrance canopies. While entrance canopies are very welcome, the design of those canopies should accommodate the nearby street trees. These trees not only add to the enjoyment of Market Street for residents and visitors, but also provide habitat for the Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. We understand that SFDPW has denied BART’s application with regard to 12 of these trees because they are not within the footprint of the new BART canopies. We are grateful to SFDPW for this sensible result, and look forward to understanding how BART will adjust its construction practices to align with SFDPW’s decision. Additionally, we are informed that BART had previously agreed to install living roofs on its canopies to support the butterfly habitat but has since declined to move forward with this innovation.

Better Market Street Project: The last known projected number of trees proposed for removal per the Better Market Street Project was around 600 trees. According to the American Forest’s Tree Equity Calculator, this corridor already has a canopy of only 4%. Although some replanting is planned, it will likely not be 1:1 because of new and existing infrastructure. However, even at a 1:1 replacement ratio, one small, immature tree will not replace the environmental benefits of a mature tree until decades have passed. In contrast, science has established that we have only a decade or so for action to secure the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Proposal: To combat the impacts of climate change and to provide a positive environment for both visitors and residents, we ask that all proposed removals receive heightened scrutiny, and that agencies adopt a minimum replacement tree replacement ratio of 4:1 – even if this entails planting trees along streets adjacent to Market Street, where BART riders and those enjoying Market Street are likely to traverse. Further, although BART has committed to a canopy design that requires the removal of dozens of trees, BART could acknowledge the error and reverse course. Failing that, BART should minimally commit to a 4:1 replacement ratio and installation of living roofs, including an aggressive long-term maintenance plan for those roofs.

Conclusion: San Francisco and the Bay Area strive to be forward-looking and environmentally progressive communities.  However, we can only confront climate change through concrete actions that promote and protect environmental health. We look forward to hearing how this tree habitat loss will be addressed.


Becky Evans, Chair San Francisco Group



Bevan Dufty, BART Board Director:

Carl Holmes, Assistant General Manager, Design and Construction, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District:

Tim Chan, Group Manager – Station Area Planning, BART Planning, Development + Construction:



Alaric Degrafinried, Interim Director of SF Public Works,

Carla Short, Superintendent of the Bureau of Urban Forestry

Nick Crawford, Assistant Superintendent, Bureau of Urban Forestry


SFMTA (Better Market Streets)  

Britt Tanner,

Kevin Day



Board President Shamann Walton,

Aaron Peskin,

Matt Haney,

Dean Preston,

Ahsha Safai,

Gordon Mar,

Hillary Ronen,

Catherine Stefani,

Connie Chan,

Raphael Mandelman,

Myrna Melgar,


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