SAN FRANCISCO – In a city where parks are as revered as cathedrals and trees as valued as the banana cream tarts at Tartine’s bakery, a high crime mystery may have been solved.
On Wednesday morning, July 10, a 65-year-old man named Ken Frisch was arrested then cited and released after he was spotted in Golden Gate Park “damaging” trees. “Not with a saw, but just his hands,” according San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) public information officer, Tracy Turner.
Frisch has a reported history of harassing city gardeners, and by one account telling them off and then making “piles of branches”.
The incident in which Frisch was cited took place near the intersection of Chain of Lakes Dr. and John F. Kennedy Dr., a few hundred yards west of the Polo Fields and the park substation where SFPD has in the past kept its mounted unit.
Frisch, who lives in the city, was cited for misdemeanors including “malicious destruction of property, removal of a tree, wood or flowers from the park, feeding squirrels and a raccoon, and unauthorized performance of labor (Park code 3.14) — for altering a park path.”
Over the years there have been many similar incidents.
“Three years ago there was a rash of incidents,” says San Francisco Recreation and Park spokesman Elton Pon. “And last fall there was some similar destruction of rose bushes and trees in the music concourse (which faces the band shell).
“But we don’t have any information right now that would lead us to think that this is the same individual responsible for the other acts of vandalism.”
Pon added that some of the damage was done with a “tool” but not necessarily a saw. Some saplings were just snapped.
Police have been looking for the vandal for some time. More than 200 trees have been destroyed in the park since last September, and by one estimate have cost the city close to $50,000.
CBS SF Bay Area: Arrest made in Golden Gate Park Tree Vandalism
The Sacramento Bee: Man cited for allegedly vandalizing trees in SF
SF Gate: Man cited in GG Park tree vandalism