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PRESS RELEASE - SF Arbor Day 2017 Signature Tree to Honor Rose Pak - 3/15/17

For immediate release: March 15, 2017

Contact: Rachel Gordon, 415-554-6045



Ginkgo biloba tree to be planted in St. Mary’s Square as living tribute to civic leader


San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Public Works, in partnership with the Recreation and Park Department, will plant its annual signature tree on Thursday, May 16, in honor of impassioned Chinatown community leader Rose Pak as part of the San Francisco Arbor Week 2017 celebrations.

Pak, who died last September, was an influential civic leader who devoted herself to serving the community.  She was instrumental in extending the Central Subway into Chinatown, advocating for more affordable housing, rebuilding and modernizing Chinese Hospital, enhancing economic vitality and preserving the rich culture and history of Chinatown. Pak also encouraged Chinese Americans to take part in political engagement and community service.

The Ginkgo biloba selected to honor Pak will be planted in St. Mary’s Square in Chinatown. The historic species awes with beautiful fan-shaped leaves that turn a stunning yellow color in autumn. Like Pak, the species is a native of China.

“Even though Rose has left us, her presence lives on in Chinatown,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “She was a tireless advocate for this community, and her activism helped bring more affordable housing, improved health services and important cultural resources to Chinatown. Her beloved home is a better place because of her, and this tree will be a beautiful reminder of the special impact she left on the community.”

  • What: Arbor Week signature tree planting in honor of Rose Pak
  • Date: Thursday, March 16, 2017
  • Time: 11 a.m. 
  • Location: St. Mary’s Square, at Pine Street and Quincy Street

Each year for Arbor Day, San Francisco Public Works plants signature trees dedicated to community leaders and advocates. Past honorees include Dr. Espanola Jackson; Irene Crescio; the Brown twin sisters, Marian and Vivian; Nelson Mandela; Sandra Cuadra; Wangari Maathai; Charlie Starbuck; Rosa Parks; Cesar Chavez; Ruth Asawa; Dr. Ellen Wolf; and Dana Woldow.

“It is a tradition of our City to plant trees to honor people who devote themselves to improving their communities,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “Rose Pak was a dear friend of mine and a respected community leader, who dedicated her life to advocating for her beloved community and City.  The signature trees we plant serve as living tributes to civic leaders, community advocates, artists, and local activists who inspire us to continue working together to build a stronger community.”

Added Supervisor Aaron Peskin, “If Rose Pak had a memoir, it should be called A Ginkgo Tree Grows In Chinatown.  The fact that the Ginkgo tree is one of the world’s oldest living tree species is a testament to its hard-scrabble endurance – just like Rose.  She lives on in the collective memory of this community, and we’ll make sure to hold some meetings under her special tree to keep her in the loop.”

Phil Ginsburg, Recreation and Park Department General Manager, said, “San Francisco Rec and Park is honored to be part of the remembrance efforts for Rose Pak during Arbor Week. St Mary's Square is the perfect location to plant a tree in commemoration of Rose's work and life, as it serves as a gateway to the neighborhood she loved.”

Malcolm Yeung, Deputy Director of the Chinatown Community Development Center who worked closely with Pak, said the signature tree planting in Chinatown is a fitting honor to her legacy. "Rose has been Chinatown's guardian angel for the last four decades,” he said.

The signature tree planting is the first of several Arbor Week events in San Francisco. On Saturday, March 18, San Francisco Public Works, in collaboration with the Port of San Francisco, Department of the Environment and Recreation and Park Department, will welcome volunteers to our annual Community Clean Team Arbor Day workday event, where participants will plant nearly 150 trees and work on other neighborhood beautification projects in District 10.

The public also is invited to the Community Clean Team Arbor Day Eco Fair, which will be packed full of  family-fun activities, including planter box-building and planting, bucket truck rides, a petting zoo, carnival games, face-painting and more! All activities are free.

The Community Clean Team kickoff and Eco Fair get underway at 9 a.m. at Warm Water Cove, 24th Street and Michigan Street in the Dogpatch neighborhood.

About San Francisco Public Works: The 24/7 City agency cleans and resurfaces streets; plants and nurtures City-maintained street trees; designs, constructs and maintains City-owned facilities; inspects streets and sidewalks; builds curb ramps; eradicates graffiti; partners with neighborhoods; trains people for jobs; greens the right of way; and educates our communities.






Press Releases
Release Date
Wednesday, March 15, 2017