A tree grows in the Sunset

October 8, 2008 8:39:08 PM PDT
A palm tree on 45th Avenue is a small piece of living history; it is believed to be planted by former San Francisco Mayor "Sunny Jim" Rolph when the area was part of his beach house, circa 1912.

There were more dunes, less concrete and fewer homes in the outer Sunset in those days.

But over a year ago, Pacific Gas and Electric informed the current property owner the tree had to be cut down because it is dangerously intermingled with power lines.

The owner and the neighborhood fought the order; they loved their mature palm in a neighborhood with precious few trees.

"This is a dead tree, this is a live tree; get it," neighbor JJ Hollingsworth said in reference to the power pole next to the tree.

The Department of Public Works gave the owner until Nov. 11 to move the tree or pay to bundle the lines, both at a cost to her of nearly $10,000. PG&E offered to cut the tree down for free.

"Maybe we weren't talking to the right people but got the run-around, I mean there's no doubt about it," neighbor Josie West said.

"Cut down, cut down, just easy way out," neighbor Paul Cavanaugh said. "Just like an old person or a young person or a sick animal, 'I'll just get rid of to save the money."

The neighbors looked to Supervisor Carmen Chu for help. Chu did recently get involved, but it was her opponent, candidate Ron Dudum who responded first. Former Supervisor Ed Jew's scandalous removal from office left the Sunset neighborhood vulnerable, Dudum said.

"These neighbors felt that personally, because this is what an elected representative is supposed to do, advocate on behalf of the neighborhood," Dudum said.

"To remove a tree that is perfectly fine is something that we are trying to avoid," Chu said.

"We're really proud to announce today that in working with the community, the neighborhood, through the leadership of Supervisor Chu, and working with important community members like Ron Dudum that we can save this tree," PG&E spokesperson Joe Molica said.

PG&E said it is working on exactly how it will move the lines to save the tree.


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