- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco moved Tuesday to take back responsibility for its street trees, years after foisting maintenance onto reluctant property owners.

Supervisors announced they would place a measure on the November ballot, returning ownership of the trees to the city and paying for the care with a guaranteed set-aside from the budget.

Unlike other large cities, San Francisco requires homeowners to care for street trees they probably didn’t plant and may not have enough money to maintain. Property owners also are liable for repairing sidewalk damage caused by trees.

“We’re an anomaly,” said Dan Flanagan, executive director of Friends of the Urban Forest, which pushed for the change.

Supervisors rejected a proposal to pay for the trees with a new parcel tax, saying they should be able to find $19 million a year for tree care out of a $9.6 billion budget.

Supervisor Norman Yee said a proposed luxury real estate tax, also on the November ballot, is expected to raise $44 million a year, more than enough to pay for tree care and other city needs.

Trees may not be the sexiest subject, said Supervisor Scott Wiener, but they are critical. The city started relinquishing care of its street trees in 2011, saying it didn’t have the money.

Supervisors are expected to vote formally this week to put the measure on the ballot.

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