Red Phone: Dead Trees at Christopher High

I have noticed that there are approximately 20 trees that are either dead or dying, along with much of the landscaping at Christopher High School. I assume that this is due to lack of water. I think it’s ridiculous that in order to save a little water, the district is letting tens of thousands of dollars in landscaping die. Our tax dollars paid for the landscaping and they are always asking for more. GUSD, how about being good stewards with the money and resources you have been given?


Thank you, good caller, for bringing this situation to the attention of the good citizens of Gilroy. Red Phone contacted Alvaro Meza, who is the assistant superintendent of business services for Gilroy Unified School District, to get some answers on the thirsty landscaping at CHS.

Meza was aware of the dying trees at CHS. In April 2015, David Hamilton of Mighty Tree Movers, a licensed arborist, was hired to assess the health of all the trees in the district. Four out of 282 trees at CHS were removed. Since then, additional unhealthy trees were found and may be removed and replaced. Meza said, “We value the physical landscape of our property and plan to replace each tree that is removed.”

Meza also said that both drought and water restrictions can result in unhealthy trees.

GUSD is following the water restrictions put forth by the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD). As a result, Meza said, “We have discontinued or substantially reduced our watering of non-functional grass (i.e., grass not used as a part of our instructional or co-curricular programs such as physical education, sports or other activities), and ornamental landscaping throughout the district.”

So, what is GUSD going to do about this now? According to Meza, it will continue to monitor the trees, and the maintenance and operations staff will report trees and other landscaping showing stress. Operating within the current water restrictions, they will maintain the athletic and playing fields. Trees in non-functional landscaped areas will be manually watered as needed. GUSD is working with the SCWD for financial help in converting non-functional grass areas to drought-tolerant landscaping.

In addition, Meza said, “GUSD is working with the City of Gilroy to explore tapping into the city’s reclaimed water system at several sites.”

There is also some good news. Meza said, “Our water restrictions have just been lowered from Level 2 to Level 1, meaning we could water a bit more. Our irrigation team is already making the adjustments.”

No one can foretell Gilroy’s water availability, but GUSD is committed to maintaining its landscaping where it counts.