I am disappointed to learn of San Marino City Council's plan to chop away the green swath lining its civic center retail area along Huntington Drive. It’s not the miscellaneous storefronts, but the green that makes this retail piece of town visually attractive.
Bird life in the trees controls insects and mosquitoes. Greenness adds property value. The tree canopy is a legacy that has taken decades to grow. It breathes clean air into adjacent neighborhoods, buffering exhaust fumes created by tens of thousands of car trips passing through daily. When all that green is gone, it won’t be pretty; it will take some years to recover the flair.
San Marino plans to replace the present ficus trees with Chinese Pistache Keith Davey trees. The non-native Davey matures similarly, to a 40- to 50-foot height, and 30-foot canopy width. The city plan claims a thinner canopy will benefit visibility of business signage; however, there will still be tree canopy covering signage.
Instead of slashing the ficus trees, the city could integrate attractive store signage at a more visible street level. (A lot of storefronts would look a lot better, too). One San Marino artist has already designed attractive signs designating the historical and architectural importance of houses on Fleur Drive; continuing such a design throughout Huntington Drive could be a solution.
In any case, San Marino’s strict tree ordinance certainly ought to require that replacement-tree choices be native species “built” for this climate, offering countless benefits to our biodiversity. I hope that the City Council of San Marino will quash the Huntington Drive tree-cutting project to consider other options.