The City of San Diego is soliciting comments on the Draft Urban Forest Management Plan. Urban Forest Draft Report February 18
- The goals for the urban forest are outlined in the 2008 General Plan. This implementation plan outlines the objectives and actions for achieving those goals, principally to:
- Establish and maintain optimal levels of tree cover, age and species diversity to maximize ecosystem benefits provided by urban trees.
- Maintain trees in a healthy condition through good tree care.
Incorporate street tree plans and urban forest management in community plan updates.
- Require planting and maintenance of trees in development permits.
Foster public education and community support for urban forestry.
The City recognizes that trees and an urban forestry program are critical to meeting San Diego’s commitment to livable neighborhoods, climate mitigation and adaptation, stormwater reduction, water conservation, wildlife habitats, and other goals set out in the 2008 General Plan. With these goals in mind, the City has drafted a long-range Urban Forest Management Plan to guide the City’s urban forest into the future. All information on the project is available on-line.
Please review and send comments on this Plan by FRIDAY, MARCH 6 to
City of San Diego Planning Department
1222 1st Ave MS 413
San Diego, CA 92101 or send them via email.
This plan applies to trees planted in street medians and parkways (the strip of soil between the sidewalk and the road).
In general, the Friends of Rose Creek support this plan. However, there are a number of issues with this plan that we will be commenting on and which we invite you to include in your comments.
The list indicates species as native to the states of Baja and Alta California located in Mexico and the US respectively. However, the tree list does not indicate which trees are native to the City of San Diego. Most of the trees listed as natives are native somewhere but not necessarily in the City limits. We feel this is disingenuous. We appreciate the effort it took to include natives of the states of California and the Southwest. However, even in the City of San Diego there are trees native to some ecosystems and not native in others. For example Torrey Pines which are native in a very small area of the coastal zone but not native in the SDSU college area. This distinction will most likely be lost to the general public and is an oversight that should be corrected. A property owner who wishes to include trees from the list should be able to easily identify the tree species native to the City of San Diego. Perhaps where Native = Yes, a footnote such as YES (SD) could indicate which of these species are native within the City of San Diego to allow property owners to more easily identify San Diego natives.
While the plan does address the impact of planting invasive and non-natives on our Open Space Parks, not all native habitat is designated as an open space park. For example, lower Rose Creek from the southern end of Marian Bear Natural Park to Mission Bay Park is open space; however it is not dedicated open space park land. This natural area is owned and managed by a variety of government agencies provides critical freshwater riparian and salt marsh habitat. Nothing in the plan as written will prevent invasive tree species from being planted along lower Rose Creek. This issue applies to many other city owned lands as well. Page 20 of the plan, under Tree Planting Adjacent to Open Space, should be revised to include the following statement: “The exclusion of planting invasive trees near any natural canyons, creeks, hillsides or other areas currently containing vegetation native to the City of San Diego including but not limited to designated ‘Open Space’ areas.”
Goal CE-J.1. Develop, nurture, and protect a sustainable urban/community forest. Subsection D. Provide forest linkages to connect and enhance public parks, plazas, and recreation and open space areas. This section should be revised to include the following statement: “All linkages to open space areas should only include trees native to the specific open space area in question to tie the open space and the community together.”
Goal CE-J.2. Include community street tree master plans in community plans. d. Encourage where appropriate, the use of native, noninvasive, and water efficient species and collaborate with nursery owners on species selection.
Goal CE-J.2. requires communities to select a palette of trees during a community plan update that will be planted on parkways and medians. This will then preclude planting of other species of trees in property owner’s parkway areas. The Friends of Rose Creek feel very strongly that local natives should be included in the palette of trees and that Eucalyptus, California Pepper, and other non-native species that would hybridize with native trees be excluded from the plan and specifically from the community palettes for Pacific Beach, Bay Ho, Clairemont, University City, La Jolla and surrounding areas to protect Rose Creek.
We strongly recommend removing all eucalyptus from this list. While some varieties are not invasive, they all are highly flammable – something that we do not need in a City that burns on a regular basis. The oils in eucalyptus prevent other species of plant from surviving in the area and the ground under eucalyptus is normally barren. Furthermore, eucalyptus drops leaves profusely which wash into our storm drains and end up on creek banks where they slow the growth of native species. Furthermore, Eucalyptus have a serious and detrimental impact on the ability to grown other plants on parkway or in adjacent yards.
We also have strong concerns about hybridization between San Diego Natives such as Platanus racemosa (California Sycamore) and Platanus mexicana (Mexican Sycamore) and other similar species. If the California variety is acceptable, then including the Mexican variety does not seem justified due to the potential of hybridization.
We have the following suggestions on appropriate tree species. One, any tree species that is somewhat invasive or would hybridize with native tree species should be removed from the list. The alternative option is that trees which hybridize with local San Diego Natives or which are somewhat invasive be tagged as such and only be planted an appropriate distance away from open space – and this should be clearly listed on the list of proposed trees and currently is not indicated as such.. The challenge with this second approach is that it complicates the public’s understanding of which trees are appropriate and where. We are blessed to live in a place with an abundance of diversity in plants, trees and animal species and we care for these forms of life as trustees for future generation.
However, we strongly encourage you to review the plan and think about additional comments, questions, and concerns, you may have.