San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SF RPD) has been claiming that it will plant 163 trees to replace the 58 trees it currently plans to fell for the Rec Center (2008 Bond) project that will move the existing tennis courts uphill and make way for a grand entrance to the park.
We have noted that most of those 163 “trees” are bushes and small trees.
WERE WE EXAGGERATING?
They’ve been spreading the myth that we are making it up. Here’s what an article published in the Glen Park news blog says:
[SF Forest Alliance] statements have also said that much of what would be planted would not in fact be trees, but bushes. However Mauney-Brodek said that the species could include madrone, coast live oak, dogwood, evergreen elm, Islais cheery and cottonwood trees. “They range in size up to 100 feet at maturity.”
Except it’s not true. We obtained the Master Planting Plan dated May 2012, which according the SF RPD is the latest they have on that matter.
[Click here for a PDF of the Plan: a 05-12 Round 1 – May 2012 – Master Planting List for Project ]
It only lists 116 “trees” to be planted. Of those, how many will be 100 feet at maturity? Only 6.
Here’s what their Master Plan says they will plant:
- 40 Bushes. Of those, 40 are actually bushes – flannel bush and gooseberry (35 of them), which grow about 6 feet tall, and five redtwig dogwoods, which are 5-20 feet tall.
- 38 Small Trees. Another 38 are small trees (Hollyleaf Cherry, Madrone, Buckeye, and Coast Live oak), which would be about 25 feet tall at maturity. (We’re including the seven Coast Live Oak here, because they’re so slow-growing they take 20 years to reach that height. If they survive the epidemic of Sudden Oak Death that has already arrived in San Francisco, they could grow up to 80 feet.)
- 31 Medium size trees. Some 31 trees (Elm, Mayten, Tristania) that will actually be 40-60 feet in height at maturity. (Of these, 11 will be street trees, presumably planted along Elk.)
- 6 Tall trees. Then there are the cottonwoods, which can indeed exceed 100 feet in height. There are six of them.
LOTS AND LOTS OF NATIVE PLANTS
Most of the Master Planting Plan, for those who don’t actually want to dig through the thing, is mostly about small plants and seeds – almost all Native Plants. They’re planning on lupine and California bluebells, coyote brush and coffeeberry, Douglas iris, sticky monkey flower, manzanita and rosemary. Ceanothus and western sword fern. Purple needle grass, which is incidentally not so good for dogs – it can stick in their ears.
How much is this going to cost? We’re not sure, (the plants alone would be around $175,000 at retail) but we wonder if establishing a Native Garden is a higher priority than some of the other things they have not funded in this project.
What they have shared, besides the Master Planting Plan, is a map which shows “trees” to be planted as big green dots, and trees to be removed as small green dots and small red dots.
[Click on the link for a PDF: October 2012 – RPD Diagram of Plan of Tree Removals and Planting ]
It’s confusing, not to say ironic, given that the trees being felled are mature and large, while most of those planted will be saplings and bushes. So here are a couple of improved versions: We’ve put red dots for all the trees being removed, and put blue ones for the “trees” being planted. (Except, of course, we know that many of those are not actually “trees.”) [Edited to add: It was so confusing that even we got confused. Here is a corrected version of the map.]
It’s also confusing for another reason: It doesn’t match the Master Planting Plan. The forest of blue dots on the East Slope ? Mostly bushes, with 13 madrone, coastal live oak, and buckeye. It’s going Native, which is of course in keeping with the Natural Areas Program – it’s within the Natural Areas boundary.
This picture below is from the other side, near Bosworth. Here again, the red dots are trees being felled, and the blue dots are “trees” being planted.
WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?
Does SF RPD have a new planting plan with 163 actual trees in it? If so, they have not shared it with the public.
[Edited to Add: SF RPD published a new planting plan on Nov 1, 2012. Our analysis is HERE.]
Transparency and communication is essential to restoring trust. This is not achieved by communicating more misleading statements through allies like Glen Park Association (which often quotes SF RPD staff on its blog), but through providing transparent information and engaging with its critics.