Crape Myrtles Vs. Elms Vs. Sycamores

Street trees

Hey Red Phone. I’m calling because I’m concerned about our
street trees. With so much emphasis on replacing the sidewalks, I
wonder what’s going to happen to the trees.
Street trees

“Hey Red Phone. I’m calling because I’m concerned about our street trees. With so much emphasis on replacing the sidewalks, I wonder what’s going to happen to the trees. I see this is a perfect opportunity for Gilroy to create more picturesque neighborhoods like Felice Drive, Miller Avenue and Fifth and Sixth streets. I’m seeing a trend where the street trees are being replaced by crape myrtles. The trees are small and spend a good part of the year dormant. They’ll never make a street picturesque like a sycamore or elm. … I know that the roots are a huge issue here with the trees, but it’s my understanding that the new sycamore and elms are street-tree friendly and their roots don’t pull up the sidewalks like the old trees do. Thanks for your help.”

Red Phone:

When it comes to trees, it’s a matter of trade-offs, according to City Operations Manager Carla Ruigh.

“The sycamore and elms are responsible for a tremendous amount of sidewalk damage in Gilroy,” she explained. “They’re very large trees that require a large amount of planting area to avoid damaging utilities and their leaves clog our gutters. They’re very beautiful trees, but from a city maintenance standpoint they cause a lot of headaches.”

The crape myrtle loses its leaves later in the season and then “leafs out,” according to Ruigh, who said the tree is ideal for planting in the narrow strip between a curb and sidewalk.

“It’s a very innocuous tree – it doesn’t damage the sidewalks and utilities like water and sewer lines,” she said.

At the end of the day, the developer is often who decides the type of trees that get planted in the course of designing the project and obtaining the necessary permits from the city.

“There is no official policy on the types of trees,” Ruigh said. “It’s more driven by the design of the housing tracts. If you want larger trees, they need to provide a larger planting area.”

The infamous sign

Several callers have commented recently on the ‘Drive a Little, Save a Lot’ sign just off Highway 101. All have had the same complaint: Why is the sign reading about 20 degrees higher than the actual temperature? Unfortunately, your trusty Red Phone has been unable to find an answer – and it has had this problem before. After one call to the business where the sign is actually located, it was suggested to call the car dealerships. Red Phone did so, with no return calls. It then passed the question onto a Dispatch reporter, thinking perhaps she would have more luck. Red Phone was wrong – and it’s glad it’s not in the market for a new car because it seems no one wants to make contact.

But there’s good news! Though it was unable to get an answer, it did notice the temperature has been recently corrected to more accurately reflect the weather. Should any caller have information on the dealership sign – perhaps a contact name and number of someone who cares? – Red Phone’s all ears. Thanks for the calls.

Readers:

Contact the Red Phone at 842-9070 or e-mail [email protected]

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