Tree vs. solar problem solved

July 16, 2009 5:50:06 PM PDT
There's a follow up to a 7 On Your Side report about a couple who got a city grant to install solar panels, but a city tree was blocking the way. However, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney helped come up with a solution.

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This is a classic case of two policies directly conflicting even though they have the same goal -- to protect the environment. However, a compromise was possible and now the solution turned into action.

Norman and Minnie Cromartie plan to put solar panels on their San Francisco roof. The city even granted them $6,000 to help pay for it. One problem was a big eucalyptus tree.

"It's too tall and it will block the solar panels," said Norman Cromartie.

However, the tree belonged to the city and the Cromarties figured the city would gladly trim it back to make way for solar, but it wasn't that easy.

"We'd have to go back and consider the benefits of the solar and the benefits of the mature tree," said Christine Falvey with the San Francisco Bureau of Urban Forestry.

Ironically, the city's go solar program is helping people pay for solar. On the other hand, the city's urban forestry bureau is staunchly protecting trees. It won't prune if that would damage the tree -- not even for the sake of solar.

"The mayor wants people of San Francisco to go green," said Minnie. "The whole thing is very confusing."

So the Cromarties called 7 On Your Side. They got the solar people together with the city tree people and they came up with a new plan. By pruning a bit and refiguring the panels, voila -- they get solar and trees.

On Thursday, the city tree crews were out in force making it all happen. The tree got a pretty good haircut, clearing a path for the sun.

"We'll be going forward with the project and the tree shouldn't interfere," said Minnie. "It took two years but, 7 On Your Side to the rescue."

The Cromarties plan to begin installing solar panels next month. They hope their case will help others who are bound to run into this type of conflict as more people use solar.

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