Almaden Valley Community Association (AVCA)
Informed Citizens for Constructive Action

c/o Art Boudreault - President

6426 Hidden Creek Drive

San Jose, CA 95120

 

 

Mayor’s Vision on Trees – Approved – Dec. 2007.

 

 

At its regular meeting held on Monday, Dec. 10, 2007, the Board of Directors of the Almaden Valley Community Association voted unanimously to support the mayor’s Green Vision Goal “to plant 100,000 new trees in the City of San Jose within 15 years.”

 

The city arborist noted that the current estimate of the number of trees existing in San Jose is about 1 million trees. The mayor, in a general plan update meeting noted that there are about 135,000 missing street trees.

 

Comments about tree permitting are listed below. The AVA has not taken a position on the current permit policy or any change to the policy.

 

The AVCA president preferred another approach, which he called “One tree for every resident” as follows:

 

"I propose that all new trees be permitted, but at no cost unless it is part of a major renovation of an existing dwelling or new construction. By also requiring a permit for all tree removals, the city can achieve a better inventory, help the owner in selecting trees native to the area, and help the owner to choose a different species than is currently in vogue in the neighborhood. This allows the tree inventory to be more easily counted and to be less likely to spread disease throughout the neighborhood. It will also prevent the ‘almost heritage tree’ from being cut down unnecessarily."

 

The president also noted that permits are not required to remove residential trees; a free permit is required to remove city sidewalk trees and a high cost permit is required to remove “Heritage” trees, which are primarily trees more than 18 inches in diameter. The president originally proposed that all trees be covered by a “no cost” permit. After the idea of permitting was not supported, Kitty Monahan made a motion to support the mayor’s proposal and to ignore the permitting issue.

 

Comments in favor and in opposition to the “One tree for every resident” position are listed below for reference.

 

Comments by Dave Armstrong:  I looked at your proposal on trees, and I generally agree that heritage trees should be protected to the degree practical. Also, the planting of trees should be encouraged by the city by proving literature/webpage on the best choices of trees, and encouraging tree nurseries to sell the best choices of trees. The city should offer a credit on the tax bill for planting a tree, rather than an expensive program using city labor.


But, your proposal is terrible in that it encourages a new city bureaucracy to monitor our personal landscaping, which would be an absolute ridiculous waste of money.
1. I can just imagine having a city worker in my little tract house yard, explaining the oak tree that was planted by a squirrel hiding an acorn, the privet that sprang from a seed, the plum tree that sprouted from the root of an existing tree, and the dead tree that I threw in the recycling bin.
2. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, with competing needs for limited tax dollars. I would prefer to keep the libraries open and have a music program for the schools, than paying a city worker to tell me how to landscape my backyard. On our street, we have from three to ten crimes, like car break-ins, every year, and the city is doing little to stop it.
3. Please check the Mercury News webpage and check out how much the city workers are paid. A bus driver earns $116K per year, and you can double that for benefits and overhead.

Please, if you make your proposal to the city, tell them exactly how many actual signatures you have in support. I doubt that it will be more than a half-dozen. It is not fair to imply to the city that your group speaks for any large constituency in Almaden.
Thanks for asking for comments on the proposal.

Comment from Jerry Mungai: Art, so what do you do for the numerous apartment complexes in town or even fourplexes where there is barely enough space for car parking let alone trees? Some of the older residences downtown have been converted into small apartments with say, 16 people. Do these properties have space for 16 trees?

Comment by Alice Fayne: Thank you for your fine tree policy. I walk daily and have almost fallen many, many times from the ball bearing like pods and other tricky debris some trees drop onto the sidewalk.

Comment by Bob Boydston: Art, you state,” By also requiring a permit for all tree removals.” Is this to be at no cost? Some trees are only 2-3 feet high when removed as weeds. Permit required?
 

Comment by Marjorie McCarthy: This sounds pretty good especially requiring a permit for tree removal.

 

I wish we could find a way to prevent people from planting inappropriate non-native trees when their property adjoins natural wilderness. My own house backs onto Quicksilver at the top of Mockingbird Hill Lane and I’ve taken pains not to ruin my oaks and bay laurels by over-watering or planting palm trees and the like amongst them and I would never plant invasive species that could spread into the park. There is nothing worse than seeing palm trees poking up through our beautiful oaks. San Jose is above the palm line and these trees don’t belong anywhere near our wilderness areas.

 

Down on the valley floor I think there can be more leeway but even then, we should be planting native trees or those from similar climates like South Africa and southern Europe.

 

Many people alas are clueless about plants and gardening and I have neighbors who landscaped with pampas grass as if we didn’t have enough trouble pulling this out everywhere in the park already. The SJ Water Company produces an excellent pamphlet detailing which plants work well, drink little, and are ecologically sound for our area and which should not be planted for reasons of invasiveness and thirstiness. I wish we could give out copies of this to new homeowners in wilderness areas and have them available at the library.

 

The real culprits are often landscapers and from experience, I know that they are often pretty ignorant about plant species and the native flora. Maybe we need to make their contractor licenses dependent on knowing more about the above.

 

Comment by Norm Hulberg: Thanks for your email. I am quite opposed to the proposed policy, a copy of which is below.

 

Requiring a permit for ALL tree removals would be quite burdensome and costly for residents. The city already has a tree removal policy. And we don’t need the cost of more city employees policing our trees. If AVCA really feels it is not effective enough, perhaps fines could be increased. But, rather than punishment, I think education about the importance of trees may be helpful.

 

I believe money and efforts are better spent on planting new trees than making the removal process more difficult.

 

Comment by Bob Boydston: In 1965, we bought some land in the Almaden Valley and had a small house built on it. There were no trees on the property. The city put in one street tree. We planted over two dozen trees such as Magnolia, Fir, Sycamore, Redwood, and the like. Now 42 years later some have grown quite big.

Over a period of time our land use has changed and two of the Fir trees are causing difficulty with my raising vegetables, so I would like to remove them, but here is the rub. It seems that the trees are no longer ours, but are under the control of the city. This happened when the trunk reached 56 inches in circumference at 24 inches off the ground.


Now to remove these two trees we had planted, we need to ask permission. To start this process we need two copies of an accurate scale of our plot plan showing structures, power lines with statistical description of the trees to be removed including location and the location of the required 15 gallon replacement trees and also showing the location of the other two dozen trees remaining plus photographs of the trees to be removed. The filled out application must be delivered in person to City Hall. For a single family the fee is $114. If the city wants more information about the trees, a certified arborist’s report may be required at several more hundreds of dollars. Then notices must be sent to all my neighbors within 300 feet to see if there are any objections.

I think this whole process is outrageous. These are trees we planted. They would not exist if we had not done so, but the city requires replacements even though there are another two dozen trees on the property.

The code says that if one of my neighbors wants to cut down one of his trees, I can object saying I like that tree. His trees should be none of my business. If I like his tree, I should plant one of my own on my side of the fence.

What if there were no restrictions on our trees, would the Almaden Valley homeowners wantonly cut down many of their trees. I don’t think so. We plant them because of their beauty, shade, and property appreciation. If this punishing code were removed, Almaden Valley would still remain wooded.