By Leah Bissonette
Late in the day on Monday, March 25, the City issued its report for the new, temporary Streetscape plan.
Many of us read it and wept.
On Tuesday, the mayor gave the State of the City report and proclaimed that Streetscape would provide 839 new trees along the Highway 101 corridor.
No weeping there. Perhaps she hadn’t read the report.
On Wednesday, the City staff presented the same report.
Impact on existing trees will be “minimized” as part of the plan and there will be no new trees, just parking and a pedestrian path in the dirt right-of-way between Highway 101 and the railroad.
Even the mayor seemed surprised. She asked, “Zero trees?” Yes, no trees as part of this temporary plan, was the response from staff.
At first blush you would hope that the no trees thing was because the City wouldn’t want to plant trees as part of a temporary plan, only to have to rip them out and move them later for a permanent plan. But no, that was not the reason. Because at that point Tony Kranz piped in to say that the railroad preferred not to have trees in the right of way as they could fall and be a problem for the railroad.
Tony is the City’s representative to NCTD and he calmly stated that this is always the policy. This is always the policy, no surprise.
Hmm. So somebody knew about this policy long before Streetscape was initially planned? Or why didn’t they know?
So why has every picture of the proposed Streetscape showed a beautiful tree canopy with many trees planted in the railroad right-of-way on the east side of Highway 101?
Why was it clearly stated in the EIR and in other presentations by the City that, while the City couldn’t plant additional trees on the west side because of the existing businesses and the need for wider sidewalks, there would be an abundance- in fact, according to the mayor 839 new trees- on the east side of Highway 101?
OK, things change. But this is not a small change. This means that Highway 101 will be the barren industrial parking lot strip that many have worried it would become for the last ten years of the fight over Streetscape.
Now the mayor knows that the new plan involves ZERO new trees and minimization of the impact on old trees. A net loss of trees. Indeed, the whole City Council had it stated baldly to them –NO NEW TREES.
And, the discussion made it clear that while the new plan is temporary, it will likely last for several years. Indeed, the mayor herself noted that temporary government plans often last for many years.
And yet, your City Council blithely approved the new plan. They’ve finally done it. They have paved paradise to put up a parking lot.
Oh, I guess if it’s a dirt parking lot, that’s ok.