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Due to the years of California watering restrictions and drought regulations, the City of La Palma did its part by limiting watering in the street medians, ultimately resulting in the lackluster appearance of vegetation in the medians. In December 2017, staff issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Median Island Landscape Evaluation / Design Concepts to redesign the medians to be more drought tolerant, aesthetically pleasing, and improve the health and safety of median trees. In May 2018, the La Palma City Council awarded the median redesign contract to NUVIS Landscape Architecture of Costa Mesa, CA.
The City of La Palma has five arterial street medians, consisting of 48 median islands for a total of 3.85 miles long, including:
As part of the project’s scope of work, a certified arborist conducted a field survey of the street tree’s condition on the five arterial streets. Based on that report and in further consultation with other certified arborists, it was recommended that a number of trees, both in the street medians and on the street sidewalks, be removed due to health and public safety concerns, and in some areas be replaced with new trees that fit the new median design and requirements of the City’s Tree Policy.
The goals of the project include reducing water usage, improving visual appeal, and presenting a consistent design throughout the City. To meet these goals, the new design consists of a vegetation palette that includes a variety of drought-tolerant plants and trees with a cobblestone stream bed and a drip irrigation system to significantly reduce water usage and water runoff into the streets.
At the May 5, 2020, City Council meeting, the Council discussed the City’s Long Term Fiscal Status as it pertains to the anticipated economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The City Council decided and directed staff to remove the Median Island Project from the FY 2020-21 Capital Improvement Program to free up funds that can be used to offset expected budget shortfalls. Additionally, by not spending the allocated funds for this project, the funds could be used for other street projects with little to no impact on the City’s Capital Outlay Reserve fund.
Because of the economic impacts of the pandemic, the City Council postponed the Citywide Street Median re-design project to a later date. As part of the approved design, a certified arborist inspected all of the trees located in the center median islands. The report identified 51 trees that need to be removed due to their health or structural condition. Below is the list of trees to be removed along La Palma Avenue.
Golden Rain (Koelreutaria)
To help offset the loss of median trees in the City’s urban forest, the City’s arborist will remove and replace street trees along La Palma Avenue. This includes removing a total of 49 dead trees, removal of root balls from 38 empty tree wells where the trees have already been removed, and converting the existing surface tree well irrigation to a deep watering system. The trees were impacted by a leaf scorch blight, which occurred a few years ago. The City’s recently adopted Tree Policy was utilized to select 12 new 24” box trees, which will diversify the tree pallet should a future blight occur.
Australian Willow (Geijera Parviflora)
Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Indica)
Marina Strawberry Tree (Arbutus “Marina”)
African Fern Pine (Podocarpus Henkelii)