Van Ness Trees on Death Row – Chris Parkes

Not all the threatened trees in San Francisco are in our parks. San Franciscans have been dismayed to find that many of the SFMTA road improvements seem to have been designed with no thought for the mature trees that are so important in reducing pollution, sequestering carbon, and providing habitat. We’ve written about these before HERE. Now the Van Ness Project is imminent, and the neighbors are fighting to save these trees. Here’s an article by Chris Parkes.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.”
William Blake, The Letters, 1799

Van Ness Trees on Death Row by Chris Parkes

Please call SF Supervisors Today!

In just a few days, most of the trees in the center of Van Ness will begin disappearing in the middle of the night.


Many sidewalk trees will follow. In all, nearly 200 trees, many 50 yrs old or 50 ft tall, will be cut down. Eventually they will be replaced by saplings as two car lanes on Hwy 101 are permanently converted to bus-only lanes as part a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

van-ness-threatened-trees-2The project sponsor will argue that the impacts are positive. Are they?

What are we getting? Even if you ride the bus all the way from Market to Lombard, your typical ride today is 15-19 minutes. How much time will you save for this huge expense? 3 minutes? 2 minutes? Less?
What else will we get? Traffic jams, increased fumes. Loss of half-century old trees.

The elderly and disabled will need to board the bus from a narrow median in the middle of a congested highway.

Please ask SF Supervisors for a ballot measure to let voters decide this. Let’s save our limited transit funds for better projects, such as a modern subway system.

Many were unaware of this project until the city posted signs on trees last year, only to learn it was then too late to change.

As this project unfolds or unravels, please call and leave a voicemail for your SF city supervisor TODAY, and often, to let them know what YOU think of it. If on the other hand you are ok with it, or do nothing, you will be pleased and comforted to know that there are many more similar projects that are already in the pipeline and that will soon become unalterable.


When the Van Ness project was first conceived, it was estimated to cost $60 – $65 million. Now the scope and cost estimate has blossomed to exceed $300 million, and ground has not even broken. Costs will continue to rise as changes mount.

Play a role in your city’s future. Please call your supervisor today.

As Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax once said: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”


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4 Responses to Van Ness Trees on Death Row – Chris Parkes

  1. Travis T VanBrasch says:

    Please include a clear and effective way to contact City Officials regarding removal of the street trees. I believe the San Franciscans will react if they are informed and there is a way to do so.

  2. Chris Parkes says:

    Hi Travis,

    SF Residents: Your Supervisor’s telephone number is here: or use the map:

    Bay Area Residents: The Mayor’s telephone number is (415) 554-6141

    Because the trees are scheduled to begin coming down in just a few days—
    I suggest:

    CALL your Supervisor, and if you are inclined, other Supervisors and the Mayor.

    Explain to the staff member that answers, or simply leave in a voicemail:

    Most important:
    • Express how YOU feel about the destruction of trees or other aspects of the Van Ness BRT project as described here:

    If you are inclined:
    • Request that this project be paused and that voters be given an opportunity to vote on this project and similar projects
    • Ask them to save our limited transit funds for better transit projects, such a modern subway system.

    If you can help others get the word, please send an email to:

    Thank you for asking!


  3. Pingback: The Native Species Arguments | SF CEQA

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