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Statement from the City of Alameda about the Park Street Streetscape Project

A public meeting to discuss the Oct. 20 and 21 removal of the trees on Park Street is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Alameda City Hall.

NOTICE FROM THE CITY OF ALAMEDA

The City failed to notify the general public recently that the second phase of the Streetscape Project on Park Street would begin with the immediate removal of the trees between Lincoln Ave and Webb Ave and from Central to San Jose.

There is no excuse; this was a mistake. The sight of tree-less stretches of Park Street shocked and dismayed many, many Alamedans as they were going about their regular routine on the street.

We acknowledge that people were justifiably angry with City Hall for this unwelcome surprise.

Although the Streetscape Project had gone through a public process and gained the necessary approvals and eventual funding, all that happened several years ago and is clearly now out of the public’s mind.

The City should have conducted a new public outreach effort to remind and inform people about the tree removal and consider changes to the project based on lessons learned from Phase 1 (Park Street between Webb and Central). 

We will be holding a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at City Hall Council Chambers from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. At this meeting City staff will explain the project, listen to community feedback and explore options to improve the project that are within the parameters of the City’s Master Street Tree Plan.

The current project is scheduled for mid-October through March, 2012. The goals are to improve the street for pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders and automobile drivers and include these basic elements: 

  • Replant 60 trees for the 31 removed. The new tress will be a variety of species and size.
  • Remove 62 parking meters and replace with 8 parking kiosks.
  • Add 12 bicycle racks (there is only 1 now).
  • Add 2 bus shelters on each side of Park St. south of Encinal Ave.
  • Replace 11 existing cobra-head street lights with 38 dual-lamp historic street lights.
  • Repair areas of sidewalk that have been raised by tree roots, posing tripping hazards.

The City commits to holding community meetings prior to any similar project in the future.

The City of Alameda has also created a web page for the Park Street streetscape project.

Below are links to Alameda Patch stories and letters to the editor about the Park Street tree removal. 

Oct. 26: 

Oct. 24: 

Oct. 24: 

Oct. 21:  

Oct. 20: 

Follow Alameda Patch on Facebook and Twitter.

Al Wright October 28, 2011 at 05:25 AM
Well, this is a good start. Thanks for the mea culpa; thanks for the opportunity to discuss this in public. Now, if you really want to endear yourselves to the merchants in the affected areas, you'll postpone the work til after the holiday shopping season. How could you schedule construction work at this time of year in a retail area?
Morty October 28, 2011 at 07:20 AM
Since Park St. has literally been destroyed, the city council should consider renaming it. Here are some suggestions: Accursed Ave., Annoying Ave., Atrocious Ave., Awful Ave., Barren Blvd., Beastly Blvd., Bleak Blvd., Bungled Blvd., Detestable Dr., Distasteful Dr., Drab Dr., Dull Dr., Lackluster Lane, Lewd Lane, Listless Lane, Lousy Lane, Rancid Rd., Repugnant Rd., Repulsive Rd., Revolting Rd., Sabotaged St., Sickening St., Stifled St. and Stricken St.
Turnstile October 28, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Parkless Street
Frank October 28, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Who was the genius who located the solar panel for the new crosswalk safety lights right next to one of the newly planted trees of an earlier phase? The leaves are covering the panel face now.
joel October 28, 2011 at 05:00 PM
how about E14 street south , only thing missing would be couple check cashing , cigarette discounter , 2 porn shop , the street walker and crack dealer will be right behind .
Alana Dill October 28, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Moving right along... I'm glad that the next phase of development will be more transparent, and I hope the new construction will be accomplished with a MINIMUM of inconvenience to holiday shoppers. I also wish they'd keep the parking meters - whoever thinks kiosks are a good idea has never dealt with a child under 5 in the rain. Do you leave the baby in the car while you're getting the parking slip? No. Illegal. Do you take the kid out in the rain and dash madly back and forth? That doesn't go over too well. And all that extra activity is probably very tough for seniors and disabled folks as well.
Mark Irons October 28, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Berkeley had some central kiosks which sold time in a similar way, but still displayed the time for each space at the kiosk itself, thus eliminating the run back to the dash board to leave the receipt . It occurs to me that there may have been inefficiencies with the meter reading as those kiosks have not proliferated. Old style meters are a lot like telephone poles to which we become inured. Reducing the clutter is the up side of kiosks. Maybe east Oakland boulevards are not so beautiful, but I think it shows a bit of that famous Alameda xenophobia to keep using them as a pejorative. Transit village improvements around Fruitvale BART aren't bad and driving to 98th along International yesterday I did see a number of trees, (and just one hooker).
Darcy Morrison October 28, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Just incidentally, Berkeley installed the parking kiosks at least in part because they had a tremendous problem with vandalism directed against parking meters. The meters were being chopped off the poles on a regular basis, quite a lot of them too. Due to that and other damage, a large proportion of the meters were routinely out of service. The kiosks are more impervious. The use of the word "beautification" in connection w/ the Park St. project is part of the problem here. It's the standard term, but in reality the project was utilitarian in nature. As I understand it, the merchants felt that the trees obscured the business facades. I also read somewhere that they wanted to attract more outside customers, so I'm speculating that the trees were cut down so that someone coming here from whereever (Oakland, San Leandro) would be able to locate a business. If so, then that's not a very good rationale. The city's tree plan has provisions for protecting mature trees that should have been followed here. I don't agree that a group of merchants has the right to clear cut a street strictly for their own (imagined) convenience.
Al Wright October 28, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Ms. Morrison, I was on the PSBA Design committee for years. Having mature trees in front of a business that are not routinely and properly pruned can present a challenge to a business owner because it does hide his/her facade and signage from potential customers. We tried for years to get the City to properly prune the trees, to no avail. We showed them pictures, we hired a commercial tree trimming company to do a demonstration with a City crew, and the City just never 'got' it. So that is part of the challenge. I invite you to look at the two trees on the lot of Big O Tires at the corner of Park and San Jose, and compare them with some of the larger trees on Park St closer to the bridge. Big O (or their landlord) routinely trims/prunes their trees to keep them open and airy, and to allow a passerby to see through them. Granted, they are a little dense now, but more often than not they are great examples of a good maintenance program; one that the City should adopt for all its trees.
Al Wright October 28, 2011 at 09:08 PM
BTW, with all that said in my previous post, I am also personally upset about how this tree removal (and the revitalization project as a whole) is being handled by the City.
a94501er October 28, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Al, that is the dumbest reason I'v read so far re: the clear cutting of the trees (ranks right up there with "out of proportion wrt the street". No wonder you clowns are all on the PSBA. btw, not all the stores have pretty facades as is amply evident now.
Darcy Morrison October 28, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Mr. Wright: This doesn't make sense. The city was willing to spend the money to cut down the trees and remove the stumps (plus carry out all the other aspects of this project), but it wasn't willing to thin the trees? It sounds ot me like you're passing the buck, saying that the city somehow made you do this. I don't see why the city would be that concerned about business signage, not without a lot of pressure from PSBA.
Al Wright October 28, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Ms. Morrison, please be aware that I am only a member of PSBA now by default, in that I have a business within the boundaries of the Park Street Business Improvement Area. I am not now sitting on the Board of Directors or any committee. You'll need to talk to someone wiser than I am to understand the City's thought process. The City didn't make me do anything. I wasn't out there with the chain saw. I was not trying to rationalize the City's actions, I was only trying to give you some background on what it's like to try to work with/reason with the City. The City should be concerned about business signage because it regulates signage, but more importantly, the City derives revenue from the sales tax collected by businesses in the city, and therefore should be concerned about the financial health of it's businesses and help them to the extent that it benefits the City. One simple way they can assist businesses is to insure that their facades and signs are visible to passing motorists. Of course, this visibility needs to be in balance with the overall streetscape goals, which could include trees of a size to provide shade, cut down glare, act as a sound barrier, and visually soften the hardscape.
Darcy Morrison October 29, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Yes, I agree. The city does have to be concerned about the financial health of its businesses, but it's not really an either-or, it's a question of degree. In any event, the issue regarding the thinning might be an appropriate topic for the special meeting.
Al Wright October 29, 2011 at 01:04 AM
Shush. . .they forgot one! They left a tree standing in front of the Woori Market. Don't tell anyone or they'll come back and waste that one, too. See the photo above.
Michael October 29, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Stump Street
Lisbeth Allen October 29, 2011 at 04:28 AM
I think, as mitigation for the loss of the Park Street forest, the City of Alameda should create a replacement forest. If the City had destroyed a wetland, it would be required to mitigate the loss and recreate a wetland elsewhere if it couldn't happen in place in the original location. How about a nice little instant forest/ park at the corner of Lincoln and Park where the car dealer was? One can dream right?
Tom Brody October 29, 2011 at 02:16 PM
I like the comment of the above reviewer, regarding the suggestion to change the name "Park Street" to "Stump Street." However, in view of all of the hubbub, I took the opportunity to tour Park Street. I was not shocked by anything. There are still plenty of trees, albeit young trees and a few adolescent trees. Thankfully, a minority of these trees are gingko "trees." Gingko "trees" are ugly because their branches have a disorganized and random distribution, and because the distribution of leaves on the branches is disorganzed looking and random. Besides, my understanding is that a gingko "tree" is really a seed fern, and not a tree.
Mark Irons October 29, 2011 at 04:49 PM
Al, I give you credit for not losing your patience with Darcy and that yahoo a94501er for his/her insults and not understanding the roll of the average merchant and accusing you personally of passing the buck. Wanting people to be able to find or see ones place of business doesn't make one a clown. There are lots of pretty good businesses on Park which have failed. Part of why some of the store fronts have been left to become so drab is that they've been camouflaged by the trees. The City has had a facade improvement program right Al?
J.E.A. October 29, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Here's a idea. Since the trees are gone (and I think someone should be fired but it is not going to happen) let's move to the next step. The buildings are drab so let's use some of the money to do a fabulous paint job. Not all the same color but give the buildings each a unique look. Buy some great awnings and flower pots. Make downtown standout instead of looking like everywhere else. Think out of the box instead of what we always do in this town. Hell, I bet we could get some local talent to do a mural or two.
Lisbeth Allen October 29, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Enough with the gingko is not a tree, it's a seed fern pejorative. Per Wikipedia where you said you got your reference - "The most plausible ancestral group for the order Ginkgoales is the Pteridospermatophyta, also known as the "seed ferns," specifically the order Peltaspermales." Wikipeda is implying that the tree evolved, most likely from the seed fern family. They are not saying that the Ginkgo is a seed fern. By your logic, we are gorillas and chimpanzees. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginkgo
Darcy Morrison October 30, 2011 at 04:20 AM
Mark - I sent Al Wright's comments to the city along with a note asking them to discuss the issue at the upcoming meeting. I'd like to know whether the city had the option to thin the tree canopy rather than cut down the trees, and how that decision was made. So I don't think I'm "disrespecting" Mr. Wright. I tried to be constructive and I think you should do the same. I agree that merchants deserve support and assistance from the city, but that obligatation doesn't extend to clear cutting several blocks of trees.
Mark Irons October 31, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Darcy, I'm just saying he didn't deserve accusation of having passed the buck or to be called a clown. How is that disrespecting anybody?
Mark Irons October 31, 2011 at 12:24 AM
To Joel's reply to me above on specialists: they have a cost. The vigilantes of public government complain about salary costs and pensions. Do you think we need a full time arborist or is this an appropriate time to bring in a consultant? "Consultant" is another buzz word used to invoke staff hiring people to do their jobs for them, which the citizenry also belly aches about, but how much is a person paid to mow lawn supposed to know? Perhaps some staff at PW could be paid to go to Merrit College at night and take classes. I don't claim to know squat, just trying to make a point that arm chair quarter backing is too easy. BTW- good street theater at the stumps today....tree ghosts say Boooo to tree cutting. Nice to see some creativity and humor.
joel October 31, 2011 at 04:10 AM
Thanks Mark , if you paid attention to the cost of replacement of the tree that were "butchered by the so call tree trimer and so called specialist , something I posted on another blog and actually got feedback from the very same peoples that did the survey , trees from Alameda avenue , Gibbons, Broadway area among other were killed by over pruning in the middle of the summer , they even went as far as pruning tree they knew had endangered bird nesting on Park , did they care no .they are suppose to my knowledge to sanitise the tools in order not to transfer disease to healthy tree , to my understandng City staff was supposed to control them , no one ever did , but they are paid to do it . The cost to you and me is in the Hundreds of trees , the same for park street they did not need to cut them off , thin them yes definitely , I am not a starsucks customer,never been never will , however would you rather enjoy the shade of a tree or the blazing sun , they cannot put humbrella it is against the City regulation , Consultant no , just have the City staff do the job they are extremely well getting paid to do , check the city payroll , it is also a regulation in this City to post a sign to any tree that will be cut down with contact info if anyone want to oppose it , one of my neighbor got fined close to $2000 by the very same peoples that clear cut the trees on park street for cutting one tree out of 15 in his back yard .....
Chris November 08, 2011 at 03:58 PM
I wonder if they are going to install these new streetlights with spying capabilities on Park St. : http://www.infowars.com/dhs-official-you-would-never-know-if-new-street-lights-were-spying-on-you/

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