The 500 block of Hayes Street is about to get a little less leafy.
After a long battle between the property owner at 580 Hayes and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, the fate of the two large ficus trees on Hayes and Laguna has been decided. They'll be removed, at the property owner's request.
We first mentioned the controversy last November, shortly after Hayes & Kebab closed its doors. Property management group Village Properties had asked the city for permission to remove the trees in the fall, citing conflict with impending construction. In October, the group's request was denied after an Urban Forestry Inspector found no health or structural issues with the trees.
Not to be deterred, Village Properties then appealed the decision, which resulted in a hearing on November 24th. In an effort to preserve the old trees, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association's Greening Committee got involved, citing environmental, economic and aesthetic reasons to keep the trees, which are just two of many that line Hayes Street.
Despite letters of opposition to the removal of the trees, the court decided to side with Village Properties during the November 24th hearing.
With the ball back in its court, HVNA appealed the appeal decision, and a second hearing took place on February 25th. Cynthia Goldstein, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Board of Appeals, told us that "ultimately, the Board was not able to reach a decision in this case," at the most recent hearing. "The vote was split 2-2, which means the permit was upheld by default."
As an added blow for tree lovers, the proposal to increase the size of the replacement trees from 36-inch box trees to 48-inch box trees was also denied—it needed three votes, but only secured two.
Demolition of the existing building is slated to begin this year, followed by construction of a 5-story mixed-use building with an underground garage. Though we don't know exactly when the trees will come down and the building will be razed, we'll keep you updated as things progress.