What a difference a week makes!
I have great news for you, but let me preface it with a reminder of how bad things looked just a few days ago.
Last Tuesday, our plan to fix San Francisco’s broken urban forest was derailed when the Board of Supervisors was unable to reach agreement about which of several competing urban forestry measures to place on the November ballot. The Board decided to postpone the matter for a week — and put it on their agenda for today. That gave us time to mobilize our community.
One advantage of having been founded 35 years ago is that Friends of the Urban Forest has developed a strong network of people who care about San Francisco’s urban forest and the vital benefits it provides to everyone who lives in, works in, and visits our city. So last week, we asked everyone in that network to contact the members of the Board of Supervisors and urge them to reach agreement on this vital issue. And yesterday, we asked our allies to join us at City Hall for today’s hearing — to remind the supervisors that their constituents expect a solution.
Wow, was that effective! Over and over today, as members of the Board spoke about the issue, they mentioned the outpouring of concern they heard from constituents. More than 250 people packed the chambers where the Board met today. At one point, we were asked to stand up if we were there to support the urban forestry measure — and most of the room stood.
Members of the Board reported that they had worked together across their differences to reach agreement on a consensus measure that would remedy the crisis facing our urban forest. And by consensus I mean the members of the Board are now unanimous in their support for a plan to solve this 40-year-old problem once and for all!
Big thanks to supervisors Scott Wiener and John Avalos for leading the way and crafting a measure that will create dedicated, lockbox funding to transform San Francisco’s urban forestry program from a national embarrassment into a national model. And we thank their colleagues, all of whom showed true leadership by working together to reach agreement.
And giant thanks to all of you who took action, stood with us, and spoke out for the trees. You should be proud of what we accomplished together.
We still have a lot of work ahead of us — the matter now goes before the voters, so we must communicate the importance of this measure well beyond our current network of supporters and allies. But polling suggests that our efforts will be rewarded in November — and then the REAL work begins, as we assist the City in putting the new funding and new plans to effective use.
I’ll share further details with you soon, after I stop levitating….