Online petition wants ‘City of Trees’ back on the Freeport water tower

Is Sacramento the “City of Trees” or “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital”?

An ongoing Change.org petition seeks to bring back Sacramento’s “City of Trees” title on the Freeport water tower that’s become a local landmark.

Last month, Visit Sacramento, the city’s former Convention and Visitors Bureau, replaced the slogan on the water tower off Interstate 5 with “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.” The city gave itself that honor in 2012 with support from local chefs and farmers. Sacramento is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world with more than 1.5 million acres of farmland and more than 40 year-round farmers markets.

“Many Sacramento natives including myself, grew up seeing ‘City of Trees’ on that water tower almost every day of our lives coming and leaving from home,” wrote petition organizer Kelan Johnson on its page. “The water tower is not just a billboard advertisement to funnel tourists in to spend their money at our local restaurants.”

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, the petition had collected 1,376 signatures. Once it has 1,500, it’ll be delivered to Vice Mayor Rick Jennings and Ray Tretheway, executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation.

“They are both great slogans for the city,” Tretheway said. “It would be great to re-establish the ‘City of Trees’ on the tower. It doesn’t have to delete the current slogan.”

Sacramento was the first city in California to be designated a “City of Trees” 39 years ago by the Arbor Day Foundation. More than 100 other California communities have since received that same honor.

Dennis Rogers, Jennings’ chief of staff, said the city is focused on economic development, and the tower was an opportunity to reinforce Sacramento’s unique brand.

“We have tens of thousands of people driving by there that are not Sacramento residents,” he said. “It’s a giant billboard that gave us an opportunity to tell people about Sacramento. It doesn’t replace anything.”

According to Rogers, painting over the water tower was fully funded by Visit Sacramento, which is a nonprofit group. Tretheway said the Sacramento Tree Foundation is ready to fundraise for additional painting costs if the petition is accepted.

Walter Ko: 916-321-1436, @juntaeko

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