Tree Slated For Removal Tumbles Today On Columbus

Tree Slated For Removal Tumbles Today On ColumbusPhoto: Bryan J.
Geri Koeppel
Published on October 10, 2015

A large ficus tree that was one of nine scheduled for removal along Columbus Avenue abruptly tumbled over today in front of Caffe Puccini at 411 Columbus Ave. near Vallejo Street.

Photo: Bryan J.

It turns out that even a ficus can't fall in the neighborhood without involving itself in local politics these days.

Gary McCoy, senior legislative aide to District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen, was having coffee with a constituent this morning at Caffe Greco next door when the tree fell over. "It was frightening," he said. "It kind of came out of nowhere."

Photo: Gary McCoy

The tree fell on live Muni lines and started smoking, he said, so the SF Fire Department came out, and SFPD wasn't far behind to block off the street. "I’m glad it didn’t happen during the parade tomorrow," McCoy added, referring to the Italian Heritage Parade that's expected to attract about 150,000 lining the streets, including Columbus. "It could’ve been a much worse outcome."

The tree was smoking where it connected with Muni lines. Photo: Gary McCoy

Four tipsters, including Christensen herself, reported the downed tree to us this morning.

Christensen—who's locked in a tight race for her seat against Aaron Peskin and Wilma Pang—told us she had recently met with Carla Short of the Department of Urban Forestry and John Thomas of SF Public Works. They walked Columbus to discuss sidewalk repairs that she's asking for in conjunction with the Columbus Avenue Safety Project, expected to start in January 2016.

She said they also identified nine ficus trees in need of removal for safety concerns, and they were slated to come out within the next few months.

 Photo: Bryan J.

"We’re going to take nine ficus out between Broadway and Filbert, and we’re going to fill in some of the empty basins," Christensen said. "I was worried about people being upset about the removals. I hope this underscores why we feel this is necessary and in the public interest." She added, "We’re planning on replacing ficus with Brisbane box and maybe tulip trees."

The "Broccoli Block" of Lombard. Photo: Lance Carnes

In June, we reported that several neighbors asked Public Works to remove 28 ficus trees along the "Broccoli Block" of Lombard Street that were at risk of falling and causing damage, injury or worse. At the hearing, some spoke out in favor of keeping the trees. Public Works approved the removals.