Tree plan takes root

In a year where the handling of Gilroy’s trees has been seen by many as anything but tremendous, Gerardo Orduno and Heriberto Denec with West Coast Arborists worked planting 12 new trees throughout the city shortly before noon on Tuesday.

“This one here, it’s too close to the driveway, so it’s going to get cut down,” said Orduno pointing to a 10-foot-high tree scheduled for removal. “But we’re going to plant a new over here, about three feet away.”

Controversy over the removal of 235 trees cast shade over the city’s decision to hire West Coast Arborists to remove trees thought to be either dead or which are believed to risks for falling limbs.

In March Gilroyan Camille McCormack filed a lawsuit against the city, citing that the removal of the trees would create significant environmental impacts on the city that would require a review under the California Environmental Quality Act. The suit also alleged that the city was in violation of the rules of open government, the Brown Act, when the May 1 city council agenda item “Budget and Contract Amendment with West Coast Arborists for Tree Maintenance,” – an affirmative vote that approved $258,000 for emergency tree removal; was considered misleading.

The city won the lawsuit and went ahead to remove the tree with the promise to replace the 235 trees with 475 new trees over the next five years.

“The good news is that with recent budget approvals, the city has plans to replant 95 trees each year for the next five years, effectively planting 475 trees and more than replacing the trees removed,” the City of Gilroy said in a press release in August.

A total of 69 sites on Miller Avenue, Eigleberry, Forest, Fifth and Alexander Streets have been chosen for the planting of new trees. West Coast Arborists will plant Valley Oaks, Red Maples, Southern Live Oaks, Silver Linden and Cork Oaks.

The city selected five sites on Miller Avenue to plant Valley Oaks, which were recommended due to drought tolerance and because the trees are native to the area. Forest Street had 16 sites chosen for Southern Live Oaks which are also drought resistant but will also complement the evergreens already found there.  Fifth Street will see Silver Lindens, which will tolerate varying growing conditions on 13 sites. Alexander Street will see the fewest new trees with only four sites chosen for the planting of Cork Oak. The most extensive tree planting will happen on Eigleberry Street where the city has decided 31 sites to plant Red Maples.