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Colorful ‘treescape’ coming to downtown

ENCINITAS — Downtown Encinitas streets could see a vibrant splash of color in coming years, as the City Council unanimously approved a tree-planting program on March 20. 

The plan calls for 170 trees to be planted throughout downtown to fill in the empty planter locations that dot the city’s core.

Once mature, the drought-tolerant trees — Chinese pistache, silk trees, Marina madrone, crape myrtle, golden trumpet and yellow jacaranda — will bloom in brilliant colors along the east-west streets, a different color on each street that will serve as sort of a legend for the visitors and tourists. 

“Looking at this makes me happy,” Vice Mayor Jody Hubbard said. 

And along downtown’s north-south streets, evergreen or semi-deciduous trees to help recreate the tree canopy without the ficus trees that dominate the current landscape, yet have been a source of ire for business owners.

The plan will cost an estimated $125,450, including $42,500 to plant the 170 trees, an estimated watering, tree care and monitoring cost of $78,700 and a $4,250 contingency budget.

A council subcommittee composed of Tony Kranz and former Councilman Mark Muir worked with the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee for months to develop the plan, which arose as city officials grappled with a high number of tree vacancies in downtown as well as how to diversify the area’s tree population.

The council formed the subcommittee in early 2018, in part to determine what to do with the ficus trees downtown. 

Supporters love the ficus’ winding branches and broad canopies, which provide shade and a unique look to downtown, especially along 2nd Street. But some business owners have complained that the trees are a nuisance, the roots damage sidewalks and snarl sewer lines and litter the city with fruit and foliage droppings at least once a year.

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