Saving the Trees on Jefferson Street

A few days ago, we were contacted by Kathy Hallinan, who was determined to save 25 trees on Jefferson Street in Fishermans Wharf. They had been posted for destruction.

No one had any idea these trees had been targeted as part of $5 million in planned improvements in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. Only when the notices were posted did the public realize that the plan was to remove all the trees for two blocks. These were healthy mature London Planes (sycamores) and pittosporum trees, and they would be replaced with… lamp posts. With hanging flower baskets.


San Francisco Forest Alliance as an organization, and many of the members individually, supported the effort to save the trees. A petition was started at, and we helped spread the word. We helped build a website for easy access to information.  (Those who follow us on Facebook would have seen both the pleas and the petition.) We attended a hearing on August 27th to voice our support for the trees and the activists seeking to save them

San Francisco Forest Alliance sent in a formal letter to the SD Department of Public Works (SF DPW), opposing the felling. (Though the trees are on Ports land, they do not have a tree-felling process, and defer it to SF DPW.) The Sierra Club had a resolution in opposition [to the tree-cutting]. Liam O’Brien, lepidopterist, pointed out that London Plane trees were the favored habitat of the native butterfly, the Western Tiger Swallowtail, and noted that the trees would be full of pupae now, ready for over-wintering.

The petition gained almost 200 signatures in under a week, and the rate at which the signatures were coming in was snowballing.


We attended the SF DPW hearing on August 27th expecting to face considerable opposition. We were thrilled, therefore, with the presentation from the project manager, who said they had modified their project with a compromise.

Only 4 trees would be felled, 3 because they needed to make a passenger drop-off place in front of Hotel Argonaut, and one because it was in the way of planned construction. Three others in relatively poor condition would be monitored. Four new trees would be planted, but probably not on Jefferson.

We’d like to thank the project managers for reconsidering the tree-destruction.

And kudos to Kathy Hallinan, whose determination and inspiration brought this potential destruction into the public eye, and saved the trees.

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4 Responses to Saving the Trees on Jefferson Street

  1. Thank you SF Forest Alliance; Sierra Club; Liam O’Brien Lepidopterist – Conservationist; Jake Sigg environmental newsletter; South End Club; Dolphin Club members; and every one of the petition signers who were coming in every 10 minutes the last day of the hearing. People were signing locally, regionally, nationally and internationally – All in just a few days – the world stood tall to protect those marvelous creations of Nature on Jefferson Street in Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco on Port property – all the while these trees were doing their part quietly to clean the air, for us, provide habitat for species, shade for humans, symbiosis in resources – 24 hours a day for us all. These trees were essentially a learning moment for all involved. Like the trees it took the branches, the trunk, the roots, the leaves and the butterflies to win this endeavor… this is an enormous victory for us all… thanks to DPW SF City Planners to agree to change their plans at the eleventh hour to save the Jefferson Street Trees and the Western Tiger Swallowtail swale habitats and the sleepers there now from being destroyed…

    I intend on continuing my support now that I have found new friends in the Sierra Club; SF Forest Alliance; Liam O’Brien, The Port of San Francisco, The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Business District on Jefferson Street. All of whom whose eleventh hour work helped create this victory…for these species.

    Signed: Kathy Hallinan..lover of trees..and All species..Horse Rescuer – Crafts artist licensed by the Art Commission for 38 yrs – San Francisco Street Artist Program – Selling on Jefferson Street there with the trees and butterflies-also for 38 years in Fisherman’s Wharf on SF Port property, – 40 years resident of San Francisco.!!..Thanks goes out to all of us…!! .for saving these species….Every one of us made this happen…this shows what community means..!!! lets do this again…!!

    Webmaster: Thank you. Kathy, for alerting us to this opportunity to save some trees and for showing extraordinary energy, resoucefulness, and leadership.

  2. Liam O'Brien says:

    A pleasure to throw my efforts in your direction. If they could, those trees would reach down with their branches and give you a big hug, Kathy. On behalf of one species of San Francisco butterfly, thank you. You should feel proud.

  3. Joel shipper says:

    Great news! So wonderful to see this senseless destruction stopped.

    I will call my Sierra club chapter and end all donations until they get in the right side of the trees!!

    Webmaster: Actually, the Sierra Club was on the side of the trees on Jefferson St. However, they are supporting the destruction of healthy trees in the “natural areas” so a call to the Club on behalf of those trees would be in order. Thanks for your support for our trees.

  4. Pingback: Jefferson Street Trees: Update « San Francisco Forest Alliance

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