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By Bill Warden and Brian BlauBERLIN, Germany (Reuters) – The sun has set on California, and the country has lost one of its most iconic landmarks.
A giant statue of a sun-baked cowboy is the state’s biggest tourist draw.
But it’s a different story for the giant oak-and-hued wrought iron handrails that make up the centerpiece of the state capital.
It’s a moment the world has long known about, but one that will come to be seen as the last hurrah for a city that has been in decline for nearly 40 years.
It was the only big tree in San Francisco before the state decided in 1960 to take it down.
A few years later, the city began to suffer a massive tree disease.
A year later, a state audit found that the city had failed to follow state tree-planting rules.
“There are no big trees in San Franciscos historic center,” said city manager Eric Gautreaux.
“We are in the middle of a crisis.”
The city has long relied on tree-planting companies to pick and plant the trees, but they were struggling to keep up with demand.
The city has hired hundreds of new workers and plans to open new parks and green spaces.
But now, more than a decade after the state approved the city’s tree-picking ban, the once-beautiful downtown is fading.
“We are losing a major piece of our history,” said Daniel Ziemba, an art historian who studies California architecture.
In 2010, the state allowed the city to begin a project to save a second-growth oak.
But the plan was delayed when the state audit faulted the city for failing to follow tree-planning rules.
The audit found the city did not have proper permits to plant trees and had missed a deadline to start the project.
“The tree-cutting project was delayed for a long time,” said Gautfass, the municipal manager.
“It was not an effective plan.”
The tree is still a thorn in the city and city workers have said they are struggling to get permits for it to be planted.
The city, which has around 1 million residents, is in the process of building a park and green space with a goal of creating an open space for people to walk, cycle and play.
But some residents say the plan has no value.
“I think it is a little sad,” said David Riggs, a longtime resident of the Mission District who has lived in San Mateo County for nearly 20 years.
“But you can’t do anything about it.
It will get worse.”
The state has ordered the city not to start a tree-picking project, and Gautresa said he does not expect it to happen anytime soon.
“It is a very sad story for our city,” Gautregas said.