By Sarah Phelan
Everyone knows Ed Jew has a flower shop in Chinatown--the FBI raided it in May--but did you know that he stopped tree plantings in the Sunset District, which may or may not be where the District 4 supervisor lives?
Guardian photo of Ed Jew by Charles Russo
Ed Jew got back from China on Sunday, and while he is recovering from jet lag, word is spreading of a June column he wrote in the Sunset Beacon, in which he claims his family "now" live on 28th Avenue in a house owned by his father, and the Burlingame home is just a place his wife's family gather on weekends and holidays.
While the CIty Attorney figures out whether Jew's definition of "now" passes muster with City residency code, it's worth pursuing back issues of the Sunset Beacon for insights into Jew's views on, well, trees.
According to a recent Jew column, no sooner was the rookie supe sworn in than his office began receiving calls from Sunset homeowners, reportedly "furious that the city was planting trees in front of their houses without their permission." Turns out the trees were popping up as part of Mayor Gavin Newsom's tree planting initiative, which began in 2005, with the aim of adding 5,000 street trees a year.
According to Jew, the mayor's office had ordered the "greening" of the Sunset between 24th and 28th avenues, but not only were the tree placements raising legitimate concerns about sidewalk repairs necessitated by root growth, and the city's failure to maintain other trees planted in the same neighborhood, but the City also made the mistake of ignoring the principles of feng shui when placing the trees, which was very upsetting to many Asian Americans."
Thanks to Jew's complaints, Department of Public Works directors Fred Abadi and Mohammed Nuru halted new plantings, and a couple trees have even been removed and relocated to other sites.
Says Jew, "Street trees can be wonderful assets when they are of the appropriate species and are sensitively placed, and can raise property values while adding to the beauty of any neighborhood."
Now, according to the City Survey 2007, which is undertaken by the Controller's Office, 4 percent of D4 residents (of 273 surveyed) thought there were "too many" trees, 45 percent said there were "not enough," and 51 percent thought the number of trees in their neighborhood was "about right." One thing the survey doesn't clarify was whether those surveyed were home owners or renters. But the survey and Jew's rapid fire response to homeowners' complaints, begs the question: was Jew representing renters, too, in his "stop the tree planting" requests? And what about climate change and the efforts of Jew's favorite agency, the SF PUC, to stop the city's sewers from flooding by planting more trees and grassy swales citywide? And then of course there's that pesky little question popping up again: was Ed Jew even living in District 4 when he ordered a stop to the tree planting program? Jew has until June 8 to provide the City Attorney with documents which should answer this question, if not the others, once and for all. Stay tuned.
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