Two prominent Panhandle trees collapse in unrelated incidents

Yesterday's fallen Australian blackwood tree at the DMV. | Photo: Citizen app
By Camden Avery - Published on August 21, 2020.

In just over a week, two large, prominent trees in and near the Panhandle Park have fallen in seemingly random occurrences — one of which required firefighters to free a trapped person from their destroyed car.

The first tree, a large Monterey cypress, fell into the Panhandle at the corner of Masonic and Oak last week. Officials believe that its root system gave way.

About one in three Monterey cypresses, which feature prominently in the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park, expire due to root failure, according to a 2014 study.

More commonly, the cypress trees drop their limbs — equally dangerous, given their girth and the typical 70- to 90-foot height of a mature Monterey cypress. A Berkeley man was killed in 1998 when a cypress fell on his car.

The other tree fell yesterday afternoon into the parking lot of the DMV, at 1377 Fell St. It landed on two cars, one of which was occupied. 

The San Francisco Fire Department responded to the incident and freed the person from the car. Public information officer Lt. Jonathan Baxter said the person was uninjured. 

The fallen tree appears to be an acacia melanoxylon, or Australian blackwood — a common street tree in San Francisco that's prone to trouble.

The Panhandle and its adjacent area has a long history of fallen trees and tree limbs, due partly to the maturity of its trees, and partly to the park's narrow shape.

The design of the Panhandle gives it maximum surface adjacent to vehicular traffic on busy thoroughfares, as well as its heavily used pedestrian and bicycle paths. Over the years, fallen trees have blocked the paths, and come very close to injuring cyclists.

Jan 22, 2021
San Francisco Twin Peaks

SFMTA proposes reopening most of Twin Peaks to vehicle access

SFMTA staff are recommending reopening more than half of Twin Peaks to cars, despite broad public embracement of the park for non-vehicle recreation. Read More

Jan 19, 2021
San Francisco Chinatown

$1.9 Million Chinatown relief measure passes Board of Supervisors

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a relief measure that would pay ailing Chinatown restaurants nearly $2 million to serve up meals for their neighbors in need. Read More

Jan 19, 2021
San Francisco Tenderloin

The Tenderloin used to have a bar where a woman was convalescing in a bed behind a curtain in back

An autobiographical essay titled "The Hard Crowd" by novelist Rachel Kushner, published in last week's New Yorker, offers some vivid snapshots of several long-gone Tenderloin bars, including one with a convalescing person in a bed in back. Read More

Jan 19, 2021
San Francisco Castro

Milk Club holds MLK Day tribute at Castro's 'Hibernia Beach' honoring community leaders

Yesterday the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club (Milk Club) held a Martin Luther King Jr. Day tribute at Castro's Bank of America (501 Castro St.), commonly referred to as 'Hibernia Beach,' honoring the civil rights icon and the passing of recent community members. Read More