Daily Journal file photo
One palm tree at Broadway and Theatre Way in Redwood City was removed last year due to fungus and at least two others in the same area are also infected and will be removed soon.
A fungus that killed one palm tree in downtown Redwood City last year is also prompting the upcoming removal of two more which became infected.
The spot where the tree on Broadway at Theatre Way was has remained empty since its removal because the deadly fungus fusarium remains present in the underground dirt. City staff says they can’t concretely predict when the fungus will die off but a new tree will be planted when it is no longer detectable.
The fungus is common to palms and is the same one that caused the removal of several trees on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, said Redwood City Assistant Public Works Director Terence Kyaw.
At least two other trees in the same area are also infected and within several months will be pulled out of the ground by the root ball using a heavy-duty crane. The city can’t just cut the trees down because the sawdust goes straight to the other palms and risks infection, Kyaw said.
The other challenge of tree removal is navigating the paver stones that surround them and the underground utilities and irrigation system.
“We can’t really go wild in the middle of the road and yank it out. We have to slowly loosen the soil and work around it,” Kyaw said.
The tree removal costs between $8,000 and $10,000 apiece and replacement palms run about $35,000 each.
The removal will happen in the next several months once the city coordinates with the crane company and ensures there aren’t other activities blocking the streets, Kyaw said.
The city is spraying the remaining trees every few months to keep the fungus from spreading.
In the meantime, city staff is looking at ways to spruce up the blank spots where the tree once stood and where the others will soon be gone, according to a letter City Manager Bob Bell sent to the Downtown Business Group.
An orange cone and barricade that had been on the empty site was related to a recent event and not the tree issue. It will be removed, Bell wrote.
Kyaw said the city is considering replacing the removed trees with a different type of palm but the aesthetics of not being uniform may not be welcome by the downtown businesses.
A call to the Downtown Business Group was not returned.
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