SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Apple’s plan to build a new flagship store in San Francisco’s Union Square has been complicated by seven 35-foot tall trees that line the sidewalk on Stockton Street and the question now is whether the trees can be removed to make way for the project.

Apple owns the seven tulip trees but needs city permission to cut them down and staff from the San Francisco Department of Public Works said the trees, which are in fair-to-good condition, should stay.

“These seven trees in the Union Square area of San Francisco are mature trees, their healthy trees and we really want to protect our urban forest and not destroy it in anyway,” DPW spokeswoman Rachel Gordon said.

Apple said the trees need to be removed because the entire sidewalk is being re-done along with the entire streetscape around its proposed glass store at Sutter and Stockton streets.

City resident Patrick Lew told KCBS that he is a big fan of the Tulip trees is urging the DPW to let them stay.

“I walk up that street every day and when it’s a hot day, it’s just comforting to have those trees there to block the sunlight,” he said.

Apple’s arborist said that tulip trees are in bad health and, if given permission for removal, promises to replace them with another species better suited to the environment along with least 19 additional trees in the open space around the Apple store.

Gordon said the fate of the trees is now in the hands of a hearing officer.

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