DPW tree removal hearings are held monthly on the fourth Monday to allow the public to weigh in on tree removals.
At the top of the Tree Removal Notifications website it states:
In accordance with Public Works Code Article 16, Section 806, a written appeal may be made in regards to the removal of a tree within 30 days of the posting date.Appeals must state the grounds for the appeal and may be sent to email@example.com or mailed to San Francisco Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry, 1155 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.
While this sounds like an open forum for the public to voice its views, in reality it is not.
1. In 2019 all public protests of trees slated for removal by the City were denied. In other words, if the City says the tree must be removed, the public’s opinion did not matter.
2. The official Director’s Decision on a tree removal is written up by a DPW Bureau of Urban Forestry (BUF) staff member, and sent to the DPW Director’s Office for a rubber stamp signature. In other words, BUF proposes the tree removals, conducts the removal hearings, and writes the decisions.
3. The Director’s Decision can be appealed to the Board of Appeals (BOA), for a $100 filing fee, plus submission of a brief, and an appearance before the BOA. A lot of work, and the BOA rarely decides against DPW.
The Nine Joy St Trees
The public was first notified of these removals in December 2019 and February 2020 on the Tree Removal Notifications | Public Works website. On the website only 4 trees were ever listed for removal.
A removal hearing was scheduled for May 11, 2020 and the official removal order listed nine trees, up five from the trees posted online. This is illegal. All trees must be listed to allow the public to protest their removal.
The May 11, 2020 hearing was rescheduled to June 1, 2020. In the interim, the original nine trees on a single removal order were split into three new removal orders. This makes no sense since all 9 trees are to be removed for a single developer. Cullinane Plastering, which is proposing to build four homes on the lots where the Joy St trees are located.
Here are the three documents submitted for the June 1, 2020 removal hearing in opposition to the three removal orders. Each asserts:
1. Not all trees were correctly posted for removal, and the removal order is therefore invalid.
2. DPW/BUF tried to assert that all nine trees were posted correctly, contrary to evidence of the limited website postings. In other words, BUF lied about the removal postings.