Supervisors celebrate landmark trees planted by CA's "Mother of Civil Rights,"

(February 26, 2008)

Supervisors Sophie Maxwell and Ross Mirkarimi join members of the Urban Forestry Council to celebrate the memory of Mary Ellen Pleasant, know as the mother of civil rights in California, as well as a physical legacy she left for future generations: the row of stately trees she planted on Octavia Street at Bush. The trees, now designated as landmark trees, are located at the site of her former residence.

Mary Ellen Pleasant was born into slavery in Georgia and later was an operative for the Underground Railroad, helping fugitive slaves escape into freedom. She arrived in San Francisco in 1852 where she operated several successful businesses, and was able to secure jobs for local African Americans. This power and effectiveness brought local blacks to nickname her "The Black City Hall." Her 1868 battle for the right to ride the San Francisco trolleys set precedent in the California Supreme Court.

In San Francisco, trees with special historic or neighborhood value--or with unique size, age, or other characteristics--can be designated as landmark trees. The property owner, the Board of Supervisors, any City Department or Agency head, the Landmark Preservation Advisory Board, and the Planning Commission have the authority to nominate trees for landmark status. Residents who want to nominate a tree that is not on their own property can work with the member of the Board of Supervisors who represents the district.

The Landmark Tree designation helps preserve San Francisco's most historic and remarkable trees. The urban forest brings a bit of nature to the city's dense, urban ecosystem. Trees also take pollutants out of the air and water, help save energy, and can increase property value. The also provide valuable habitat for our resident wild birds and animals.

WHAT: Landmark Tree Press Conference

WHEN: Thursday, February 28, 2008, 11 A.M.

WHERE: 1661 Octavia Street at Bush