I'm really disgusted with the awful decision to . I chanced upon the removal Friday morning, vaguely aware some trees were coming down, but... Who on earth authorized this clearcutting disaster?
The street where I live has very few trees and, not surprisingly, sound bounces and echoes from one house to another. We're going to find that Park Street's trees did more than look pretty and clean the air. Leaves also baffle sound, effectively acting as noise abatement. Now they're gone, and I don't envy the folks who live and work there.
Alameda has a long-term street tree plan. There was community and expert involvement in creating it, but it's sadly evident that whoever authorized this tree removal didn't even get past page 9 of a 200-page document. Specifically, the plan on page 10 says "no to:
• Wholesale tree felling
• Short-term, treeless streets
• False eveness plantings (I need to look that one up!)
• High risk trees
• Sidewalk and utility conflicts
The small trees planted on Park Street within the last few years are abused
and struggling due to vandalism. Why didn't the City give more care to
the existing mature trees to give the new trees time to grow? Thin out a few branches and dig holes to add MORE trees staggered with the old ones? Then, as the new trees flourish, the old trees can be taken out without as much
damage to aesthetics, environment and soul.
If anything, these martyred trees should be a wakeup call that this must not happen in other neighborhoods. We have long avenues of monoculture trees here, all planted at the same time. Visually it's a great, unifying effect... until they start to die off. Massive tree die-offs have happened all over the U.S. with Dutch Elm Disease; we've lost hundreds of Monterey cypress and pines in Golden Gate Park due to age and wind; we deal with Sudden Oak Death and pine beetle infestations; and who knows what unknown diseases and pests may arise in future? To help slow the spread of infestation, it's important to have a variety of trees rather than the admittedly gorgeous and impressive mass plantings.
We all know how disruptive liquidamber are to sidewalks; sycamores can live over 300 years but their trunks get very thick over time. City planners apparently must be urged to think forward to the expansion of trunks and roots that will make it necessary to eventually take large trees out. Wouldn't it make sense to remove a few sycamores (or liquidambers as the case might be) at a
time in 5- or 10-year phases, and replace with strong, healthy trees
of different types?
I regret having been preoccupied with other aspects of life rather than paying attention to whatever announcements may have been made to the public. But the City government is supposed to be adhering to the community's tree plan, and MANY Alamedans are going to be watching closely to see that street trees, from this point on, are handled appropriately.
San Francisco has a citizens' organization called Friends of the Urban Forest. It seems that Alameda needs a similar group.
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