Trying new locations for sidewalk trees


Click on pictures to enlarge.

By Dave Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

Shady sidewalks are slowly becoming a reality along Alameda de las Pulgas between Avy and Ashton avenues in unincorporated West Menlo Park.

And the San Mateo County Public Works Department is again engaged in trying to realize more of that vision. Workers are moving the sidewalk planter boxes slightly to help a new set of young trees avoid the fate of their predecessors: being run over by heedless drivers.

The planting in 2004 of some 40 sycamore trees along the two-block-long commercial district promised an end to sidewalks baked or blessed, depending on your point of view by uninterrupted sunshine.

Some merchants objected to the trees, seeing them as hindrances to vehicle parking in what was already a congested scene in a community in which SUVs are popular.

It didn't take long to justify their prediction. About a third of the young sycamores had short lives punctuated by repeated bashings from vehicle bumpers until they lay stretched out on the sidewalk. As did two or three rounds of replacement trees, each of which were tended by Public Works Department workers to help them grow roots sufficient to reach the water table and survive without irrigation.

Jeff Grech, a supervisor with the Public Works Department, was on the street recently to oversee the relocation of the luckless sidewalk planter boxes and their eventual replanting.

Would this expenditure of sweat and public funds have a different result? "I've photographed a lot of those trees lying on the sidewalk," this reporter told Mr. Grech.

"I've picked a lot of them up," Mr. Grech replied, unfazed.

Carpenter Luis Carlos, interrupted during construction of a new frame for a planter box, noted that that stretch of sidewalk will now have one tree instead of two.

"Hopefully (the tree) will survive if people will show a little bit of concern about it," Mr. Carlos said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Linda
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jul 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Glad to see some work finally happening in this area. Each year when I see the assessment on my property taxes, I wonder where the county has been.

Yes, drivers are careless and shouldn't hit the trees.

However, the county also has a responsibility to maintain the trees. Many of the older trees are leaning and haven't been straightened. Some have broken branches that haven't been trimmed. There are weeds growing in the area around the trunks. Some of them have rubber around them to hold them to a stake and that rubber (or metal) is now choking the tree trunk.

Let's hope this round goes better and that both the community and the county do a better job of taking care of the trees!

Like this comment
Posted by Plotter
a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2010 at 6:17 am

[Post removed, terms of use.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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