San Francisco Homeowners May Be Billed For Storm-Related Tree Damage

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – During the recent storms, hundreds of trees have come down in San Francisco alone. Once the debris is gone, homeowners could be slapped with a bill.

During the first few weeks of January, one expects to see Christmas trees scattered along sidewalks. But, after nearly a week of brutal storms, 300 non-Christmas trees have come tumbling down in the city of San Francisco.

“The ground has gotten saturated. That means the roots don’t have as much to hold onto as they did before. And you bring in the gusty winds and that really spells trouble for trees that might be vulnerable,” Rachel Gordon of the San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) told KPIX 5.

Public Works crews have been doing triage around the city since Saturday.

“If a large limb or a tree comes down, we prioritize them – where are they potentially endangering people or property,” Gordon said.

The city is racking up an overtime bill for cleanup costs

“We will start getting our bookkeepers on that one. It’s a lot of overtime. People have been working long shifts, again we’ve been bringing in extra crews,” Gordon said.

Residents could be getting a bill, despite a measure passed by 80 percent of voters last November.

Proposition E, which transfers all street trees back to city control, doesn’t take effect until July. Which means, if a tree that you currently have custody of is damaged, you may have to pay.

“If it’s a privately maintained tree, if it’s under their jurisdiction now, they have the responsibility. They will be the ones who will be taking care of it,” Gordon said.

DPW said homeowners would not receive a bill for minor jobs, such as removing a branch from a side of the road. Major work, such as cleanups involving an arborist, may lead to a bill.

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