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The residents of Van Ness avenue have petitioned the Board of Supervisers to allow them to plant grass and trees for a space of about eighteen feet on each side of the avenue.  This street, were it put in order, which it is not, would be the most splendid ride for the ladies, children, and equestrians generally, to be found in any State of the Union.  As it now exists, it is so full of ruts and holes that it is dangerous to life to drive or ride along it at all.  As the streets are the common property of the citizens, the Supervisors have no right to grant permission to the residents of any avenue or street to plant grass or trees on any portion of them, but it is their duty to see that this wide and beautiful drive be put in such order as to render it a safe and pleasant thoroughfare.  The real gist of the petition is not to beautify the avenue, but to lessen the expense of keeping it in order, by closing in thirty-six feet of its width from public traffic.  Of course, if trees and grass are planted on each side, the dimensions of the drive will be reduced to the size of an ordinary street.  It will cost nothing but a little water to keep the grass green, but it will deprive citizens generally of the use of a drive which belongs to them.  The petition is merely an excuse to get out of paying the ordinary cost of keeping Van Ness avenue in order  What is demanded, as the special right of taxpayers, is that the avenue should be kept in good condition for its entire width and length.  Then ladies and children could use it as an agreeable resort for equestrian and other exercise, and the value of the charming residences on either side will be far more enhanced by the good condition of the road than by any attempt to narrow its proportions by planting trees and grass.

San Francisco News Letter
September 23, 1876