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Tree plan heading to City Council

Submitted by on 1, November 10, 2009 – 6:00 am2 Comments

20The Planning Board – or rather, the half of the Planning Board that was in attendance for Monday night’s meeting – moved forward an exhaustive, two-volume master tree plan to the City Council for approval.

The plan, the first update the city has seen since 1989, will go to the council with a five-page tree removal policy that lays out when trees can be removed and what level of public participation is required for that decision to be made.

The removal policy lowers the percentage of the city’s trees that can be removed in a year to 5 percent, from the 10 percent that had been included in the tree plan when it was presented to the board in September.

The goal of the plan is to keep the Island pretty while addressing safety and maintenance concerns. The plan excludes private developments, Alameda Point and the city’s parks. It lays out a series of goals that includes providing regular maintenance for the city’s trees – and for figuring out ways to pay for that.

Board President Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft offered a big thumb’s up for proposed public-private partnerships that could see local residents taking classes at the Recreation and Park Department to learn how to care for the Island’s street trees themselves.

“As much as we would like to be out there maintaining all the trees, washing trees with organic soap – the city can’t always do that. We’re hoping that we can partner with residents,” said Barbara Hawkins, the public works staffer who has honchoed the creation of the new street plan.

Another suggestion concerned notification of potential tree removals for public projects. The plan the board reviewed Monday night allows trees to be removed for such projects without notifications posted.

“If there’s a good reason for the trees to be removed, they should be removed. But there should be a public process,” said Christopher Buckley, a local resident who has been working with Hawkins and others to modify the new plan.

Board member Lorre Zuppan also said the council should be asked to consider studying the cost of properly pruning its trees, which she said could be a cost-saving measure that could avoid the cost of dealing with trees that get sick for lack of care.

The Island is home to about 15,000 trees.

Ashcraft and board members Anne Cook, Rebecca Kohlstrand and Zuppan were in attendance Monday night. Members Art Autorino, Andrew Cunningham and Patrick Lynch were not at the meeting.

Much later, the board okayed extended holiday hours for Kohl’s but ixnayed a proposal to keep the store open until 11 p.m. for an additional 85 days a year. It also approved Trader Joe’s request to extend its truck delivery hours to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. from the current 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. but held off on similar requests made by five other tenants at Alameda Towne Centre, saying additional criteria would need to be established to help the board decide when to support or deny such requests.

The board also opted to hold off on a proposal to consider changing the Island’s truck routes.


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