LocationAlhambra , 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.