City and County of San Francisco

Urban Forestry Council

Planning and Funding Committee




Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 4:00 p.m.

Offices of the San Francisco Planning Department

1650 Mission Street, Room 400

San Francisco, CA  94103


Committee Members:  Members Igor Lacan (Chair), Dan Flanagan, Andrew Sullivan and Jon Swae


Order of Business


4.    Presentation on Geary Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project. The Geary BRT Project team will provide an update on the project and development process, including the release of the Draft Environmental Document in November 2015, comments received from the Urban Forestry Council, the team’s responses to the comments, and schedule for the remaining environmental process and engineering design steps, phasing and construction of the project. Speakers: Chester Fung, Senior Transportation Planner, Arup; Kate Elliott, Public Information Officer, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency; Wahid Amiri, Geary BRT Project Manager, SFMTA; Nicholas Ancel, Landscape Architect, San Francisco Public Works. (Discussion)





Meeting Highlights


  • 113 Trees currently scheduled for clearing, most of these residing in the center-median in conflict with GearyBRT’s Red Carpet Lane
  • 50% of trees are reported to be in healthy condition although no individual tree health data was offered.
  • GearyBRT Plan only delivers 1 to 1 replacement for each cleared tree (not 2 to 1 as reported elsewhere)
  • Replacement trees will take a minimum of 10 years to be considered mature.
  • GearyBRT planners did not offer a comparison of environmental impact from each of their proposals. Staff only offered a tree impact report from the perspective of their Staff-Recommended option.
  • Planners claimed their GearyBRT will create 13% more green space compared to today
  • Public comment was reduced by meeting chair, Igor Lacan, from 3 minutes per person to 1 minute per person, even though there were fewer than 8 people from the public in attendance.
  • The only attendees who entered public comments were four members from RedCarpetMess.org all of whom are in opposition to the removal of healthy trees.
  • The meeting’s Public comment period lasted approximately 4 minutes in total.


General Meeting Notes


A total of 113 trees will be cleared out of the 1,400 trees within the GearyBRT Project Area. The area is comprised of two main section noted as Phase 1 and Phase2


Phase 1 begins at Geary and Van Ness and continues to Stanyan.

Phase 2 begins at Stanyan and continues to 34th Ave.


Red Carpet Painting would come before center-median demolition and could begin as early as January 2017


Center Median Demolition Construction is currently planned for 2019-2020


GearyBRT planners have committed to a 1 to 1 replacement of trees targeted for clearing. Requests were made for a 2 to 1 replacement which was tabled for further discussion. This item is contrary to discussions indicating that MUNI Planners will offer a 2 to 1 replacement. This fact has now been made clear.


GearyBRT reports that not only will all center-median trees interfering with GearyBRT progress be removed but trees along the sidewalk may also be targeted for clearing. It was reported that half of the trees planned for clearing are already in poor or worse health.


Trees to replace those that are cleared with require 10 years to reach maturity and it was acknowledged that a negative environmental impact would result in the removal of these trees, yet would offer comparable or better environmental benefit in the future (with no specific timeline offered).


The GearyBRT planning team could not provide data to directly compare the most basic measures of existing versus projected impact of removal and replacement, specifically CO2 absorption, O2 production and Canopy Size.


There will be a posting on trees that are subject for clearing and the community will have 30 days from the posting to appeal the removal of any given tree(s). After the first appeal period is completed, a second appeal lasting 15 days will occur thereafter and the final decision of which will be considered final.


The planning team reported that GearyBRT will provide 13% more green space compared to present day conditions.



  • The poor quality of GearyBRT presentation data is at best, misleading and at worst, deliberately manipulative. A few examples:
  • GearyBRT offers 13% more green space - More green space is deceptive in that MUNI Planners know that they have only planned to offer a 1 for 1 tree replacement. More importantly, the Canopy/CO2/O2 benefits from replacement trees won't begin to offer a comparable benefit to our current trees for 50 years.
  • 113 trees to be removed out of 1,400 trees - MUNI Planners are deflating the total numbers of trees they will cut down from the total number of trees along the Geary Blvd. Corridor. This hides the shock that 100% of trees within the project area on Geary's center-median will be destroyed.
  • Half of Richmond Dist. Trees are in poor health or dying - This has yet to be verified and the amounts of individually tree health grading is unreported.
  • GearyBRT offers value-added sewer and utility installation - Our team reports that only an 8-10 block section may need sewer replacement and the only reason that sewer may need to be replaced is due to the additional weight of MUNI Rapid Busses. This means that from Park Presidio to 34th Ave, the recency and quality of our Sewer system is expected to last another 20 to 50 years.
  • GearyBRT plan includes paved roads - This is almost infuriating in its deception. MUNI Planners have intentionally held up critical and necessary road improvements in order to force adoption of GearyBRT by the Richmond District community.
  • GearyBRT has benefits for everyone - Except for drivers (Lane Dieting, Two Lost Driving lanes)  and Bicyclists (no benefits to Bicycle riders at all on Geary Blvd.)