The sudden absence of greenery that had over the years become part of the local landscape might have come as a shock to many residents who did a double take at the south side of Huntington Drive between Kenilworth Rd. and Del Mar Blvd., but San Marino Environmental Services Manager Ron Serven said the new look is actually the result of a decade-long negotiation between the city and local businesses.
“Sign visibility, nuisance berries that were tracked into buildings and staining sidewalks, near slip-and-falls on the berries and the roots that were lifting the concrete, that is the beginning of the list of objections we have heard from the local business community,” Serven said.
Out go the Ficus nitada and hello Chinese Pistache, a deciduous tree that Serven claims will provide less challenges to all concerned.
The Chinese Pistache is a deciduous tree that will display brilliant fall colors – oranges, reds, golds,” Serven said. “It is also very drought tolerant with a well-behaved root system,” reminding Serven how the Ficus trees were also “entering into the sewer systems of many of the businesses and causing a large amount of damage.”
Many of the new trees have been planted with a few more remaining to take root. The Chinese Pistache seedlings are 10-12’ tall at this point but should sprout to the 30-40’ height of their predecessors.
Serven also said the new trees are easier to prune, which will help sign visibility, long a complaint of local merchants. The new trees will be planted in slightly different locations as Serven said the city “doesn’t want to plant back in the same root system,” and are also trying to plant in new locations that will enhance sign visibility.
“Hopefully, this will get people to slow down, notice the businesses and frequent our merchants,” said Serven.
Other areas of the city may receive the same treatment, of mention is the area in front of Coldwell Banker. Money for the project is coming from the city’s general fund and has so far cost about $10,000.
“We are going to give the project some time to see what the areas look like and then proceed accordingly,” said Serven. “So far, the feedback has been excellent. There have been a few questions as to what types of trees have been planted but we have heard nothing but positive back from the business owners.”
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