Laurel Heights residents furious over development seeking permit to cut down hundreds of trees

ByKris Reyes KGO logo
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
SF residents upset by development seeking permit to cut down hundreds of trees
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In San Francisco, there's a big push for a new mixed-use development that includes affordable housing for seniors. Part of the cost? Chopping down hundreds of trees.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Walk along California Street in Laurel Heights near Golden Gate Park and you'll feel as if the trees are speaking to you. Handwritten yellow signs have been placed in front of a row of trees, each with a message or a plea.

One reads, "replacement is murder, am I so easily replaced?"

Another, "I am healthy and I help you. Help me!"

The signs were made by Roz Arbel who has been organizing a grassroots movement to block the Prado Group from getting a permit to clear hundreds of trees in the area to make room for a mixed-use development, that includes affordable senior housing, but also retail, parking, residential and childcare spaces.

"What we want city officials to do is to start pressing developers, how can you preserve the natural resources on this site, how can we have both," says Josh Klipp, an urban forest advocate who's one of the more vocal advocates around the issue.

"This proposal, which is a good proposal in a lot of ways, but it also seeks to take down 200 trees at a time when our city needs them more than ever," Klipp adds that already San Francisco has the smallest urban canopy of any major city in the country.

On the website and Facebook group residents have expressed anger, sadness and confusion about the need to get rid of mature trees

"City officials, don't pave paradise to put up a parking lot. Save our old-growth trees and its wildlife for humanity and create real affordable housing for families and seniors," said Kathy Denny who wants to remind city officials that Laurel Hill was the inspiration for Golden Gate Park.

We reached out to Prado Group, the developer behind the project, for comment. We did not get a response.

The development includes 13 new buildings with plans to plant new trees. But, organizers of Save The Trees 3333 says that's not good enough, they are urging concerned residents to attend the last hearing on the issue by the Board of Supervisors, Tuesday afternoon.

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