Large Ficus Tree Falls in North Beach, Prompts Response From Supervisor

A large ficus tree fell near San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood this morning, a spokesman for Supervisor Julie Christensen said.

The roughly 40- to 60-foot tall tree fell on Columbus Avenue between Stockton and Vallejo streets around 10:20 a.m., said Gary McCoy, a spokesman for Christensen.

McCoy said he was having coffee with a constituent nearby at Caffe Greco when the tree went down in the area, which falls within Christensen’s district.

The tree landed in the middle of the road between cars, he said.

As soon as the tree dropped, many people were shocked and ran out of the way, according to McCoy.

Police officers and fire crews responded to the scene to block off the street and cut a few branches from the downed tree, which struck overhead wires used by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, he said.

McCoy said he did not know of any injuries or property damage that resulted from the fallen tree.

The tree that fell today was one of nine ficus trees scheduled to be removed in the next few months, McCoy said.

The city is slowly replacing ficus trees with other types of trees, McCoy said.

The trees tend to break and fall over due to windy conditions, but that did not appear to be the case with today’s fallen tree, according to McCoy.

In the past month there have been three other trees that fell in the North Beach neighborhood, McCoy said.

In a statement Christensen said, “The large ficus trees on Columbus Avenue and Lombard Street are a beloved part of our urban forest. But we have become concerned about the safety risk posed by the increasing number of failing trees.

Christensen said she was in a meeting less than two weeks ago with officials from the city’s Public Works and Urban Forestry divisions to discuss removing and replacing the “more dangerous” trees along Columbus Avenue.

“The frightening failure today on Columbus Avenue underscores the dangers these large, heavy trees pose and the need to replace them. I am working with the City to insure this is done quickly,” she said.

Jamey Padojino, Bay City News

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