Glendale Public Works Will Re-Evaluate Trees, Consider Removal Options, Hold Community Forum

Glendale Public Works Director Steve Zurn addressed concerns about neighborhood tree removals by stopping the project to review options, explaining the process by which sidewalk repair + tree removal decisions are made, and by announcing that Public Works will hold a community forum to present findings. Details in his email below:

The project in question is a sidewalk repair (removal and replacement) addressing damaged and unsafe sidewalks in this and other adjoining areas. On an ongoing basis, we try and maintain a delicate balance between having safe sidewalks and flourishing mature trees, which can sometimes be difficult as they exist in such a confined area. We consistently go to great lengths to maintain the trees.

As part of the project design process we have our certified arborist review the condition of the trees, the root mass development (the leading cause of sidewalk damage) and the structural integrity of the tree, in relation to the work being considered. In this case, the arborist discovered during his review that several of the trees were in declining health as a result of plant disease that we apparently cannot arrest or reverse and which can be “passed from tree to tree”. As is the case with many tree diseases and simply age-related decline, to most observers the trees look healthy and thriving but continue declining and eventual there is partial or complete failure.

Last week word got back to me that the five worst trees had been removed. There was concern expressed about the removals and at that point I stopped the project at least as it relates to the trees until I could personally review the situation.

[This is] the planning and design process our staff goes through with all projects of this nature to determine what if any options exist, including but not limited to the following:

• Evaluating the current state of all trees including determining does the tree pose an imminent danger. The results of the recent wind storm where we lost over 350 trees and will likely lose another 400 due to severe damage, showed that many trees in a weakened state were especially vulnerable and were destroyed, however we fortunately did not have anyone injured. That is something we want to make sure to always protect against. I don’t know if that is the case with these trees but I intend to find out.

• Will we be able to maintain the structural integrity of the tree as we remove the roots ca us ing the sidewalk damage?

• What is the current decline rate of the trees that are diseased and can we push out any replacements over an extended period of time to avoid several removals in a short period of time?

• Will the disease continue to spread and thus expose more trees to potential degradation and possible removal in the future?

• Is there any means to slow down or try and reverse the plant/tree disease to extend the tree life?

In addition while our in-house forestry professional and maintenance staff are very good at what they do, I have asked for a second opinion on the trees from an outside certified arborist.

Once I have completed my review I will bring findings to residents in the form of a community gathering to present and discuss before proceeding further [with] both construction and forestry staffs present to provide a complete picture. I hope this helps bring a little more clarity and provides some relief at this point that we will be stepping back and getting together with the residents.