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Broadway tree meet is Thursday

Submitted by on 1, April 19, 2010 – 4:45 am3 Comments

Photo by Ani Dimusheva

By Ani Dimusheva

Broadway Avenue is about to become a little bit barer and bleaker in appearance, for a few years anyway, before it blossoms beautiful again. This is because Public Works is moving forward with a tree overhaul plan for the busy street, on the heels of the Master Tree Plan adoption this February.

Seventeen trees between the 1000 and 17oo block of Broadway have been labeled with a notice declaring them in decline and potentially hazardous. The notice invites residents to attend a meeting at 7 p.m. April 22 (Earth Day) at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue, Conference Room 360, to discuss the removal and replacement plan.

According to a consulting arborist’s report, the trees are in declining health as a result of age, spreading fungus, and decay as a result of overpruning in the past, and they pose a safety hazard. All of the targeted trees are Modesto Ash — a species on the phase-out list in the Master Tree Plan because of its proneness to disease.

Nine of the proposed removals are from the 1100 block of Broadway.

While this number exceeds by far the new Master Plan’s rule of removing no more than 5 percent of all trees on a block face in one year, trees that are deemed a threat to safety are an exception that does not require a public notice prior to removal. However, because of the scale of the operation, the trees are noticed as a courtesy, and to give residents a heads up on what’s coming. Broadway residents have also received a letter explaining the scope and reason for the proposed operation, and are invited to bring their opinion and questions to the public hearing on April 22.

Matt Naclerio, the city’s director of public works, agrees that the removals will cause major change to the streetscape but sees no alternative. “Those 17 trees need to come out immediately. The limb and trunk decay is so extensive that they are a potential safety concern,” he said.

Tom Millar, a resident whose front tree has a note on it, agrees it’s time for a new tree. “The one they took out last year was hollow” he says, pointing to a spot nearby, already occupied by a maple sapling. “And a branch out of this one fell on our wires recently.” “I wish we’d get a big one, like the one over there,” he adds, waving toward the only unscarred, full-crowned tree on the block.

In a tiny office at the bottom of Grand Avenue, Todd Williams, a public works supervisor in charge of street trees, is busy placing color-coded circles on a printed map of Broadway. The planting-to-removal ratio in the first year will be two to one, dropping to 1.5 to one when the overhaul is complete, according to a letter mailed to residents. These numbers include direct replacements, as well as filling in spots that are currently empty. The replacement trees, some of which are already in, are medium-sized maples, elms and Kentucky coffee trees, a species fairly unknown to Alameda that is on the Master Street Tree Plan approved list. White Ts painted on the curb mark future tree spots.

Christopher Buckley, who is working closely with the city on monitoring the tree replacement operation says he strongly supports the proactive planting but hopes for a more gradual replacement process where the removals are most concentrated. “The City should correctively prune at least one of the trees as a demonstration so that we can all see what it would look like. If it is so severe that it compromises the tree’s value, then removing the tree may be the best option. But if a tree can be pruned and able to remain safely for a few more years, that would give time for the new trees to become established before the old ones are removed.”

Disclosure: Ani Dimusheva is a contributor to The Island and a member of Friends of Alameda’s Forest, a tree advocacy group.


  • Joel says:

    Does anyone know why the giant tree at the corner of Central and Gibbons was taken down? It was massive but looked outwardly healthy. The stump alone looks big enough for three or four adults to stand on comfortably. It looks like not everyone was happy to see it go, since there was a bouquet of flowers sitting on the stump this morning.

  • Neal_J says:

    The tree appeared outwardly healthy & had some green leaves before they took it down.

    After it was taken down, my kids & I went to look at the stump and most of the middle of the tree was rotten and gone. What little remained was as squishy as pudding, as one of my kids discovered when he jumped in the hole in the center of the stump.

    Godspeed, Mr. Tree.

  • Joel says:

    Glad it was cut for a valid reason other than the fact that it was huge- if it truly was in decay, it was big enough to take out 2 or 3 houses if it fell.

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