In an effort to mitigate the loss of the trees, which will be removed as part of a renovation, city officials are considering a plan to plant 300 smaller trees on and around the golf course, and add native grasses to enhance the natural habitat. The staff recommendation is to invest at least $200,000 in mitigation for tree planting and maintenance for up to five years.
As the city prepares to chop down 543 trees as part of a renovation of Palo Alto (Calif.) Municipal Golf Course, officials are weighing options to mitigate the loss, Palo Alto Online reported.
The Parks and Recreation Commission will consider a plan by staff to invest $200,000 in mitigating the loss of trees around the golf course and an additional $20,000 in annual maintenance fees, which would be deducted from golf fees, Online reported.
In a memo, officials from the Public Works and Community Services departments lists a number of variables that should be considered as part of the city’s mitigation plan. Some of these, including number of trees and size of the canopy, are quantifiable. Staff estimates that it would cost between $130,000 and $200,000 to replace the downed trees based simply on the quantitative analysis, Online reported.
Other benefits are “qualitative” in nature, including general health of the ecosystem and new recreation opportunities. These, staff wrote, “cannot be measured easily, or require lengthy time frames to determine whether success or reversion occurred.”
The proposed mitigation strategy, which the commission is scheduled to sign off on tonight, would include benefits of both sorts. Under the plan, about 300 trees would be planted at and around the golf course, though these species would be smaller than the ones taken down. In addition, staff is recommending that the city plant native grasses in the Baylands, thereby enhancing the natural habitat, Online reported.
The recommendation is to invest at least $200,000 in mitigation for tree planting and maintenance for up to five years. After that, $20,000 would be invested every year between 2019 and 2034 from golf course revenues, Online reported.
The golf course renovation was prompted by a regional flood-control plan spearheaded by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority. Last year, the council decided to go beyond the golf course adjustments relating to the flood-control project and to reconfigure the entire course, with the goal of highlighting its Baylands setting and making it more attractive and profitable, Online reported.
While the proposed renovation has received the support of the council and local boards and commissions, some commissioners have expressed concerns over the past year about the high number of trees that have to be taken down. At a hearing last July, Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Ed Lauing said he and his colleagues have been “entirely comfortable with” the planned axing of trees, Online reported.
At that meeting, Rob de Geus, assistant director of the Community Services Department, said that under the city’s plan, all trees would be replaced within a decade—though not all would be at the golf course, Online reported.
“A lot will happen on the golf course, but the new golf course and Baylands isn’t a good place for a lot of the trees,” de Geus said.