San Francisco tree could get landmark status or the axe

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The fate of a tall and slender pine tree in the backyard of a San Francisco house that’s at the center of a dispute among neighbors is now in the hands of San Francisco city leaders.

The Board of Supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to grant landmark status to a 100-foot-tall Norfolk pine hybrid estimated to be a century old even though it’s on private property and the owner wants to cut it down.

Neighbors have been rallying for a year to save the tree, saying the pine is an important part of the street’s landscape and the single-story Italianate house’s history.

The saga began last year when the new owner of the house on Cook Street in the Laurel Heights neighborhood cut down three trees in his backyard — two palms and one of two pines — as part of a plan to redevelop his property.

Afraid the owner, who bought the property in 2012, would cut down the remaining pine tree, a couple living in the carriage house in the backyard and another couple living two houses down secured a 90-day restraining order to stop its removal and began their attempt to get it landmarked, over the owner’s objections, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (

Only 16 trees in the city have landmark status, because they are old, historic, or especially important to the environment.

The issue was forwarded to the city’s Urban Forestry Council for a final decision. But the committee deadlocked 2-2 in July and now the decision is up to the Board of Supervisors.

Attorney Barri Bonapart, who represents the homeowner, says the tree is an ordinary pine that poses problems for the home’s infrastructure.

“It’s a lovely tree. It’s just in the worst possible place,” Bonapart said.

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