Public Safety Concerns Bring About Redwood Tree Removal

The City and its Miller Avenue design and construction crew have worked to preserve redwood trees on Miller Avenue--two located in the median at Evergreen Avenue (across from Whole Foods) and one located in the median at 453 Miller Avenue (across from Union Bank). During the initial planning stages of this project, these trees were identified as being in conflict with elements of the new roadway. Concerns of limited visibility at the Evergreen intersection were raised, but the trees were nonetheless incorporated into the design in the hopes that they could remain in place and that visibility and construction design issues could be adequately addressed. 

Upon the removal of the concrete in the median, the City verified the very shallow rooting habit of the trees and confirmed the impact that construction of the new roadway would have on the trees. A large portion of tree roots must be removed to adjust the median, excavate and reconstruct this failed section of Miller Avenue pavement, create the new roadway alignment, and establish a road elevation and grade to accommodate accessible pedestrian pathways.  Considering these factors, the constrained location and poor health of the trees, both the City arborist and an independent arborist recommend removal of the trees. The independent arborist report acknowledges that the trees are in close proximity to pedestrians and traffic and would be “an unacceptable risk to people and property if retained.” Further, given the extensive work which will occur near the trees, their vigor and integrity would be extremely compromised.

Notices will be posted for the removal of the trees, and work crews will replace the three redwood trees with new trees as part of the landscaping phase of the project. The City and its landscape consultants will identify appropriate replacement trees, which will be reviewed and selected by the City’s Tree Committee. The replacement trees will be selected based on factors such as their size, aesthetic appeal and their ability to withstand the tough street environment. The trees will be planted in the new planting areas, with features designed to ensure their long-term health and vigor.

As part of the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project, 145 new street trees will be planted in the “Main Street” section (Willow to Reed/Valley Circle). Click here for a rendering and identification of tree species.

Please contact Danielle Staude, Senior Planner, with any questions, comments or suggestions for the three replacement trees:   

The following provides further detail about the trees and their replacement.

Why must the trees be removed?

The poor street median growing environment and drought stress caused the trees’ stunted root system and have caused the trees’ poor health. The roadwork will exacerbate the health issues and make the trees unstable. In the recent storms, City Public Works crews responded to and cleared more than 40 fallen trees. These recent storms illustrate the danger unstable trees pose. Safety of the public is the City’s first and foremost priority.

What kind of construction is taking place near the trees?
The project includes a new realigned roadway with a buffered bike lane, two lane traffic, accessible sidewalks and crosswalks that meet accessibility standards. The project will make driving, cycling and walking easier for all users, including seniors, people with disabilities, children, and people with strollers. To accomplish this task, the existing sidewalks and roadway is being demolished and excavated ( 22 inches) to adjust the grade to meet current standards.  

Does the project preserve any of the trees on Miller Avenue? 
Since construction of the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project began in June of 2016, the City has carefully planned and conducted all work near the trees with consideration to their preservation and well-being.  The trunks were protected during construction, pruning was limited to hazard reduction, and the project included new irrigation to the redwood trees. 

The project has successfully incorporated the magnolia and carob trees into the roadway design. As part of the reconstruction and realignment of the roadway, 50 trees have been removed from the central section of Miller Avenue, what we call “Main Street” - between Willow Street to Reed and Valley Circle, 35 existing trees will be preserved, and 145 new trees will be planted. Trees in other areas of the street are maintained with the project. 

When will the new trees be planted?
New street trees are anticipated to be planted by December 2017. 

Did the City seek community input into the trees and landscaping of the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project?
The Miller Avenue Streetscape Plan was developed over more than 10 years based on the input and guidance by the community. In 2011, local community members discussed the impact to existing trees, where the project modifies the roadway alignment, and eliminates the frontage roads. The redwoods in the median at Evergreen and Miller Avenue were discussed in depth, with some community members in favor of maintaining the trees, while others identified the trees as blocking visibility and creating a safety concern at the Evergreen intersection. The redwoods were incorporated into the project, with the understanding that they could be significantly impacted and potentially require removal to accommodate the realignment of the street.

Will the wood be re-used?
The City will repurpose some of the wood for potential uses such as steps, fence posts, trail boundaries and other projects.  

Are these considered Heritage Trees?
Although the trees are prominent, they do not meet the trunk diameter requirement to be considered Heritage Trees.