Linda Votaw moved into her house on Potrero Hill in 1998. There was a tree in front, which she liked, except that the roots were cracking the sidewalk. So she fixed the sidewalk. Ten years later the roots were back, cracking the sidewalk.
“It’s a ficus,” said Doug Wildman, program director of the Friends of the Urban Forest, which planted the tree in 1984. “Wonderful tree, lovely,” he said, but they ruined sidewalks.
In fact, the Urban Forest folks quit planting them. Sure enough, contractors told Votaw the tree had outgrown the planting area and would keep breaking up the concrete.
Votaw says she wrote and called the Department of Public Works for advice and never got a response. DPW spokeswoman Gloria Chan said, “We have no records of a resident calling our urban forestry division for information.”By January the sidewalk had buckled and the roots had invaded the sewer line. Suddenly, DPW was interested, marking the sidewalk and driveway, and demanding that repairs be made. So Votaw hired a contractor, who trimmed the roots and fixed the concrete.
In two days a notice from the city appeared, demanding the tree be removed in 24 hours.
So they cut the tree down.
“Within 10 days we received a letter requiring us to pay a nearly $1,700 fine for excessive root pruning and a $300 permit fee to remove the tree we had been ordered to remove,” she said.
Votaw appealed the fines and was told a hearing would be set soon. That was in March. She’s heard nothing.
“Honestly,” she says, “I don’t know what else I could have done.”
Maybe moved to a different city?
How about you – what kind of run ins have you had with the SF bureaucracy?