City to plan old trees’ future 

Long-range solutions for replacement being reviewed

BURLINGAME — A plan is being developed to replace the towering Easton Drive eucalyptus trees — some of the oldest in the city— as they die or become diseased in the future.

Park Superintendent Tim Richmond said the city is seeking public input on a plan for what is considered a historic section of approximately 80, nearly 100-foot trees — most of which are eucalyptus that can historically live more than 200 years — on Easton between El Camino Real and Vancouver Avenue. The trees are currently between 80 and 100 years old, but some might need to be removed in the next 10 and 50 years.

"We needed a plan so it’s just not a patchwork hodgepodge of trees," Richmond said.

Officials only remove city-owned street trees if they’re dead, dying, diseased, have bad root health, stability problems or significant structural defects, Richmond said. Last week, the city started its fall season round of tree removals, which typically yield more than 100 trees.

Richard Hill, arborist with Brisbane-based Davey Tree and Shrub Care who has worked with the Easton trees in the past, said that blue gum eucalyptus trees are fairly disease-resistant. Pavement, however, can block oxygen the tree roots need for stability — causing serious health problems for the tree and expensive sidewalk repairs for cities.

Richmond said the city might therefore opt to plant elm or redwoods instead.

A suffocated tree could suffer root damage but still grow smaller roots to provide nutrients to the foliage. These roots are not enough to help keep the tree stable — which can present safety and liability issues during high winds or heavy rain, Hill said.

"The tree can continue to look healthy, but its root system could be significantly compromised," Hill said.

The Beautification Commission met last week to hear a presentation on the Easton trees and gather any resident input on how to replace these Burlingame icons in this so-called City of Trees, home to some 18,000 trees in total. Commissioner Jeanne Carney said the commission will revisit the issue at its meeting next month.

Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia, but came across the Pacific Ocean as seeds in the late 1800s. The trees grow much faster and larger in the United States — due to the soil’s higher nitrogen content — and usually have long lives, Hill said.

tramroop@examiner.com

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