Also gone – the tall trees that lined Clarendon Avenue in front of the Aldea San Miguel UCSF student housing.
I remember a time when you couldn’t even see the fence from the street. When UCSF thinned the vegetation there many years ago, they promised plantings that would conceal the chain link fence. Well, they planted some vines, but the concealment didn’t happen.
The chain-link fence is more prominent than ever.
And across the road, a swath of trees adjacent to the homes on Clarendon have been felled too, I think by SF Rec and Parks (or possibly Sutro Tower, not sure).
Over the last decade, we have lost a lot of the glorious trees that made Forest Knolls a community surrounded by forest. I’m glad I had a chance to see them in their former beauty.
The Sutro Stewards and UCSF are going ahead with plans to build the Clarendon connector trail, which would run inside the screen of trees that divides Forest Knolls from UCSF’s Aldea Housing. This is, coincidentally, the area that was severely thinned in August 2013. (Before picture above, after picture below.) This means that the actual trail probably will cause less destruction than it would have before. They hope to finish it by November 2016.
The trail would start on the Clarendon- Christopher corner, go into the narrow alley behind the pump house and fence, and continue on parallel to Christopher. (That’s the orange line on the map below.)
They’re also going to punch a new trail through on the South Ridge (the purple squiggly line), in addition to the Quarry Road Trail that was built with no notice to the community. These trails would not be bad, except that they always end up destroying trees – if not immediately, a year or two later when tree lining the trail are declared hazardous. Over 1500 trees have been removed since 2013, with around 350 being felled this last winter. There’s such a thing as too many trails for a 63-acre forest.
NEW TRAIL HEAD PLANNED
On March 14th, they had a meeting to design a formal new trail head at Clarendon x Christopher. (The red labels aren’t original to the picture, they’re just to orient you.)
The initial designs showed a seating area of granite, a kiosk with maps and signs, and gravel. The idea was to provide a well-marked entrance to the forest from the UCSF side (there is already one from the Stanyan side) that would avoid the campus, connect to new trails across Clarendon Avenue being built by San Francisco Recreation and Parks (SFRPD) near Sutro Tower, and have street parking available since UCSF has no plans to provide additional parking for this. They were looking for public input on what they wanted at the Trail Head.
Some of the ideas – seating, some kind of shelter from the wind that blows up Clarendon, a water-fountain, an earthen berm along the Christopher side to provide wind protection, permeable pavers on the ground instead of gravel.
So far, no funds have been set aside for this. It seems to be a fund-raising opportunity for the Sutro Stewards, who plan to write grant proposals for the money. UCSF may provide some funding too, but it is unclear how much. The team – the Sutro Stewards, and Julie Sutton of UCSF, seemed to want people to think big. Maybe that would justify a bigger grant?
CONNECTING TO OTHER SFRPD TRAILS
Lisa Wayne of SFRPD attended, to show how the new trail would link to three other trail projects SFRPD is working on: The Creeks-to-Peaks Trail from Glen Canyon to Twin Peaks (already being built); the plan to turn half of the figure 8 on Twin Peaks into a bicycle/ pedestrian area by restricting cars to the other half (in design); and trails to connect Twin Peaks to Mount Sutro via trails past Sutro Tower (yellow dotted line below – in planning).
She’s hoping to get work started this summer, for an opportunity to use VOCAL volunteers. Hope this doesn’t mean cutting down trees in the nesting season. Actually, not cutting down trees at all would be better, but trees are apparently the casualty of every SFRPD project, especially near any “Natural Area.”
CONNECTING TO THE BAY AREA RIDGE TRAIL
Several people from the Bay Area Ridge Trail group came, and Bern Smith spoke about how this new trail would connect to other trails and become part of a 550-mile trail system around the Bay.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FOREST KNOLLS?
Quite aside from such issues as tree removal and thinning of the forest, this project will practically be part of our neighborhood. On the one hand, if there’s enough seating, it might make a picnic or gathering spot for a neighborhood that doesn’t have one. On the other – could this mean parking problems on nice days?
UCSF is taking comments. You can send them to Christine Gasparac: email@example.com
COMMENTS AT THE MEETING
The gallery below shows the comments from people at the meeting – which included a few members of the public, but no neighborhood representatives. If you click on the pictures, they should become legible.
Squat and Gobble, the West Portal eatery that was being rebuilt after the fire there, had sought approval to remove a tree to provide heavy machinery access to the site. (I’d thought it was two trees that were scheduled for removal, but it was one.) But, as I reported then, work was well underway and both trees were still there. I was glad; West Portal has lost some beautiful trees, most notably an old one near the tunnel entrance when work was done there.
I wrote to Carla Short at the Department of Public Works, asking if the trees had been saved. She didn’t know. She replied:
As for the West Portal trees, only one tree was approved for removal in order to accommodate the crane for construction. I have not heard that they are planning to preserve that tree, so it may be still coming out. Their permit is valid for six months. If they found a way to work around it, though, perhaps they are preserving it, I just haven’t heard anything. If it does get removed, they will be required to plant a replacement tree, and some additional trees on the West Portal frontage.
Well, the tree was there through much of the construction, but when Squat and Gobble reopened, I found it was gone. Even the tree-basin the tree had grown in was gone. There’s no replacement tree there, nor any along the West Portal frontage. I hope they’re planning to put them in.
It’s just one tree, and it was removed through a proper permitting process. But I’m beginning to see an anti-tree ethos in this city. Whenever there’s a project, whether private or City-led, trees are the casualty. There seems to be no emphasis on trying to preserve and work around them.
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” – William Blake, The Letters, 1799
This tree is near West Portal, and I pass it probably twenty times a week. I’ve admired it for years. It dominates the street; there’s no other tree of that size or beauty near there.
A few years ago, I was writing a piece on Memorable Trees, and wanted to add this one. But around that time, the owners had it pruned. It was very well done, not butchered, but still the tree looked shorn, like a child after the kind of haircut you get them when you don’t want to have to struggle with it too often.
For a tree, unlike a kid’s hair, it takes quite a time to come all the way back. In the last year or so, I’ve been noticing it again, and I thought I’d better get photographs before it’s time for another pruning.
To the owners of the tree, should they encounter this post – Thank you!
Thanks for caring for it. It’s a grace to the whole community.
A few months ago, I reported that the two trees were marked for removal, next to the burned-out Squat & Gobble restaurant on West Portal. Though they’d survived the fire and the fire-fighting, they were in the way of the cranes that would be needed for rebuilding on the site.
It was sad. So many trees were being lost. There used to be a splendid old tree at the station, opposite the library; it was removed when work was done on the Station.
But… here it is, mid June. The rebuilding is coming along nicely.
And our trees are still there.
If they have indeed been saved, a big thank you to whoever preserved these trees.