A dozen eucalyptus in Burlingame are on the chopping block as city officials claim the mature trees are declining in health and need to be removed.
The 12 trees are slated to be cut down later this month in the area east of the train tracks on Burlingame Avenue, and officials will examine the health of 15 others suspected to be threatened as well.
The decision to cut the trees was issued following a health inspection from both the city and an independent arborist who began studying the state of the grove following two others nearby needing to be removed due to health conditions.
Parks and Recreation Director Margaret Glomstad said the exact location of each tree slated for removal as well as those needing further examination will be identified in a city report due before the next City Council meeting.
Each tree already removed has been replaced with a different variety of eucalyptus, said Glomstad, and those potentially cut in coming weeks will be replanted as well. The replacement eucalyptus will be a smaller variety, growing only 70 feet, which is 50 feet shorter than the existing species, according to city’s Facebook page, making them easier to care for and maintain.
Those identified for removal will be cut before the end of the month, said Glomstad, and the additional study on the rest of the grove will begin in July.
The planned removals follow three eucalyptus in the grove falling victim to the winter storms, when they crashed down due to root decay and other health issues.
The incident compelled officials to begin examining the health of all the eucalyptus trees in the area and do a more comprehensive evaluation of the rest of the grove near the Recreation Center, said Glomstad.
“Last year in the winter we lost three by the playground, and others were leaning and pulling up dirt,” said Glomstad. “It generated concern, so we hired an independent arborist.”
The third party found the 49 other mature trees have been properly maintained, but are susceptible to health issues, as their roots can be restricted by the surrounding concrete and asphalt, according to the report.
Several of the trees were visibly showing signs of decline with cankers, decay and rot, according to the report. For those 15 eucalyptus identified as needing a deeper health examination, tools gauging the strength and density of the wood will be used alongside excavations and X-rays to check root health.
Glomstad said officials want to move urgently in assuring all the necessary trees are removed and assessed before inclement weather hits.
“We want to get everything sorted out before we have more winter storms,” she said.
The tree removal comes a year after city officials struck an agreement with Caltrans to save a historic grove of eucalyptus along El Camino Real which the state transportation agency had threatened to cut under an effort to improve driver safety.
Officials and residents had advocated for less invasive means of improving driver visibility at the corner of El Camino Real and Floribunda Avenue as alternatives to trimming from the Howard-Ralston eucalyptus row, recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ultimately officials agreed cars traveling south along El Camino Real will no longer be allowed to make a left turn at Floribunda Avenue toward downtown rather than the road widening required to establish a left-hand turn lane, which would have required the tree trimming.
Officials recognize the community interest in preserving healthy eucalyptus, according to the report, in an attempt to assure the removal on Burlingame Avenue is done appropriately.
“As the proud city of trees, Burlingame strives to maintain its urban forest and preserve its tree canopy,” according to the report. “The city must also balance this proud tradition with the need to ensure the safety of all those who live along or near Burlingame Avenue or use the street to access Washington Park.”
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