Alameda is a city with character defined by our urban landscape. While changes in that landscape occur all the time, Alamedans have a right to a voice in the process that determines the path of those alterations.
What happened on Park Street on Thursday and Friday was jarring; the heart of our civic business district was clear cut, without any public notice. Given the city’s history with tree removal, the concerns about Park Street cannot be unexpected. The lack of public notice is unacceptable.
While we understand that the City Council does not implement projects, you do oversee the execution of city policies. This includes stated goals for transparency, public involvement and meaningful notification for public projects. These were ignored in the actions on Thursday and Friday and now the council must act to correct this.
We the undersigned are asking the City Council to immediately take action on the following items:
- Commit to planting 20% mature trees: It may be true that the trees on Park Street needed to removed, however it is a City decision to replace them with scrawny twigs that will take years to grow to a meaningful size. The trees in the previous phase are still small and inconsequential nearly 5 years after planting. Other projects have planted large trees and our downtown shouldn’t wait a decade for the benefits of this project
- Commit to a public planning policy: This project highlights poor consistency in planning project and policies in Alameda. The council needs to adopt a mandatory policy of public input at the beginning and end of all planning processes. The Sunshine Ordinance was a good first step, now it’s time to take the next one.
- Accountability: The community concerns were easily foreseeable and Public Works has a history of proposing draconian actions for mature trees based on engineering assumptions, only to find non-invasive solutions when pushed by the community. It is unclear on whether the clear cutting of downtown was required. What is clear is that the public was cut out of the conversation. The way in which this occurred is unacceptable.
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