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San Francisco

Troublesome Upper Haight street tree is gone for good after shutting down block a second time

Just five weeks after being clipped by a delivery truck and requiring emergency arboreal surgery that shut down the block, the Australian blackwood tree at 1668 Haight Street was hit and damaged again this week — this time, for good. 

On Monday, shortly after 10 a.m., the tree was struck by a delivery truck that had been diverted to drive through what's normally a curbside parking lane. The detour was intended to accommodate work crews completing a sewer lateral replacement at Haight and Belvedere, part of the ongoing transit improvement project on the street.

But the detour had unexpected consequences for the truck's driver, and for the tree as well. 

Neighboring business owners said traffic on the street was closed for three hours, as city workers labored to extract both the damaged tree and limbs from an adjacent tree without harming the electric line immediately beneath both trees, which powers the 33-Ashbury bus.

The Australian blackwood tree was initially marked for removal a year and a half ago, along with a handful of others in the area, and is due for replacement over the course of the Upper Haight transit improvement and pedestrian realm plan.

But according to San Francisco Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon, the problems with this tree won't change the removal schedule of any of the other street trees in the neighborhood.

"We just need to make sure there's proper clearance," she said. "Obviously, we don't want to see this happen again."

Following the 2016 passage of Proposition E, which reverted care of some 125,000 street trees to the city, Public Works has steered away from Australian blackwood and ficus trees. As those trees age, they develop structural flaws that make them prone to dropping branches or toppling over entirely.

Thanks to tipster Andrew W.

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