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Residents protest possible destruction of trees at Marengo Avenue development

Photo by Cheri Cabot.


Alhambra , CA United States

Residents protested in front of Alhambra’s City Hall on Monday against a proposed development that they said would lead to the destruction of dozens of trees, as well as a potentially historic church.

The protestors expressed concern that the development on Marengo Avenue meant cutting down a wide variety of mature trees. The developer previously announced plans to build condominiums, a new senior healthcare facility and a retail space for the project.

“This area is a treasure to our city and it would be a tragedy to destroy it,” said Cliff Bender, one of the concerned residents.

Alhambra’s planning commission approved the project on April 17, on the condition that the developer commission a survey that would recommend which trees could be saved in place and which ones could be replanted elsewhere. The City Council initially approved a general plan amendment to allow the project, located in a residential area, to include retail space. Yet they delayed final approval in order to address concerns about the project.

The tree survey concluded that the majority of the trees were in good condition. Still, it recommended that 229 out of 268 trees be removed for the new development.

This recommendation was made not only to account for the health of the trees, but for the needs of the proposed development, said Richard Ibarra, the arborist who put together the tree survey. He said some of the healthy trees were in the way of the new buildings and were too large to put elsewhere on the site. He also said that soil changes needed for construction might not accommodate the trees.

Yet cutting down those trees could have significant environmental effects, said William McKinley, an arborist that one resident hired for a second opinion. These trees could absorb harmful gases like carbon dioxide and reduce the need for air conditioning by providing shade. It could take 30-50 years for a tree canopy like this one to grow back, he said.

Councilmember Barbara Messina said that there was little the City Council could do to save more trees or the potentially historic properties on the project site, since the property is privately owned. Messina said that she would support ordinances to protect trees and historic properties in the future, if both were reasonable.

Neither the developer nor the property owner could be reached for comment.

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2 thoughts on “Residents protest possible destruction of trees at Marengo Avenue development”

  1. Melissa Michelson

    When he was running, now Alhambra Mayor Sham said he was for preserving historic and cultural resources. Why then would he vote “yes” on June 12, 2017 for owners of Sunnyview Care Center allowing them to demolish a historic chapel on site along with 80-100 year old trees? (Could that he got $5,000 from the owners back in 2014 for his city council run be influencing him?)

    Q: What would you like to improve in Alhambra?
    A: I would love to preserve the historical aspects of the city—the many homes and features that date back to the early years of the community.

    Q: READER QUESTION: Some residents are advocating for an official policy in the city that will preserve its historic and cultural resources. Do you support implementing a historic preservation ordinance in Alhambra?
    A: The city has single-family residential design guidelines to preserve the charm, history, and aesthetics of our residential community. I am open to other steps to preserve Alhambra’s unique charm, including enacting a historic preservation ordinance. It’s important to preserve our past, especially our local historical treasures. But we have to craft it in a responsible way. I look forward to having a dialogue about the best way to move forward.


  2. The trees and the church should NOT be destroyed by this developer! I also want to know why the five Council Members approved this project. What is the relationship between the Council Members and the Chinese or (Chinese American?) owners?