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City fines Noe Valley building management $8,000 for illegal tree chopping

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Spokesperson says illegal logging of Clipper Street favorite was accidental

The stump of a tree in the front yard of Noe Valley apartment building.

Back in June, the unexpected and illegal removal of a particularly tall and fine old tree in front of a Clipper Street apartment building startled and angered tenants and Noe Valley neighbors.

(“I almost cried when I saw [the stump]” the anonymous neighbor who brought the removal to our attention said.)

And the rest of the city got in on the outrage after Curbed SF reported the scofflaw logging. Angriest of all were the Department of Public Works and Bureau of Urban Forestry, who didn’t like it one bit that contractors clipped their Clipper capital in the wee hours of the morning.

At the time, DPW spokesperson Rachel Gordon estimated that the penalty for chopping down a city-owned tree without permit could run up to $10,000. The final figure turned out to be a bit less dire, coming in at $8,000 after appraisal.


Although nobody at the 610 Clipper Street apartments or the unfortunately named Green Tree Property management company returned Curbed SF’s requests for a comment at the time, Green Tree spokesperson Ron Heckmann eventually told the San Francisco Chronicle this week that the whole thing was a mistake.

“There was some confusion regarding the ownership of the tree based on its location, but the removal of the tree was not intentional,” Heckmann said.

This probably refers to fact that the towering trunk (which was variously identified by neighbors and readers as a juniper or cypress tree) was only a few feet from the building.

Despite the proximity to private property, DPW repeatedly assured Curbed SF at the time that it was a city asset. And they sure let Green Tree know it too.

Heckmann says the company won’t appeal the fine and will also make some private donations for new plantings on Clipper Street.

It probably won’t mollify residents who were quite enamored of the absent arboreal asset, which is ironically still visible on the 610 Clipper website. But maybe time will heal all wounds.