Elderly Man Accused of Vandalizing Trees in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park (CA Penal Code §594)

When someone says the word “vandalism,” it usually conjures up images of graffiti or the destruction of public property like signs or private property like vehicles.  However, when the public property in question is a tree like the ones in Golden Gate Park, it seems odd to call it “vandalism” when someone alters a living thing – yet, it is.  Under CA Penal Code §594, public parks are included in “damaged property” and 65-year-old Ken Frisch has been accused of having done just this.  He was ticketed near the Chain Lakes and John F. Kennedy Drive for purposefully wrecking park property, taking trees from the park, unauthorized feeding of animals, and changing park paths without permission.

It seems that Frisch has a history with local authorities – he’s been accused in the past of harassment of city administrators.  Now, he is suspected of having participated in snapping the tops off of over 200 young saplings planted by park officials, although police have stated that they believe that others are responsible for this latest rash of tree destruction.  Depending on the value of the trees and on how many of them law enforcement officials can prove were defaced, the culprit or culprits (whether Frisch or others) may be looking at hefty fines and/or time in jail.  If the amount of destruction is over $400, for example, an individual may spend up to 1 year in county jail or a fine of $10,000.