Everyone can work together to help keep the distinctive feel of the Coronado we all love by promoting a healthy urban forest, which currently includes 8,112 trees that help beautify city streets and parks. Just ask Public Services Supervisor Art Valdivia, who has a passion for getting trees planted, and is seeking the community’s help in getting residents to request trees be planted in front of their homes in time for the annual Arbor Day celebration slated for March 11 at 8:30 am at Spreckels Park (deadline to request a tree is Friday, February 17, 2023). Community members and groups, including families, are welcome to help plant trees, in coordination with city staff and the Street Tree Committee.
The city works with residents throughout the year to try and get more trees planted, which happens on a selected date around Arbor Day. So far this year, 30 trees have been requested by homeowners, but the city would like to see that number grow to 50. The city is encouraging residents to apply for a tree by February 17, so trees can be ordered. Last year, volunteers planted 38 residential trees for Arbor Day. Coronado has been part of Tree City USA for 37 years, which has a network of 3,652 other cities nationwide, focusing on planting trees.
“We need a coordinated effort between the city and Coronado residents to increase the urban forest,” Valdivia commented. The task is more difficult due to so many vacation and rental homes. The city has a hard time contacting those owners to coordinate tree species selection and irrigation bubbler installations, and so trees in front of their homes often die due to age or lack of water.
Some residents don’t realize that the city has a program where you can request trees and the city will coordinate planting them. Homeowners are allowed to give their top three choices from the approved street tree list, which includes 22 varieties. Tree selection is based on the owner’s request, the power lines, water availability, and how the tree will grow to fit in the space. Once a tree is requested, a city staff member will come out to meet with the resident and mark the location. Then after planting, the city has a program where they coordinate the installation of a dedicated irrigation bubbler to the homeowner’s existing irrigation system, and provide mulch to help the trees establish roots and enhance survivability. The new trees are then monitored for the first three years to ensure they get established.
Valdivia points out that residents are often not well informed on the amount of water needed to maintain tree health. Homeowners are responsible for watering public trees adjacent to their property, as stated in the city municipal code, and the city is working to educate homeowners to ensure trees’ longevity. Previously, 12 out of 50 trees planted were removed, in large part due to a lack of water.
The young-tree maintenance program involves a worker driving a water wagon from May through September, to provide proper watering and mulching, with 110 trees currently in the program. Since implementing this program, they have only had to remove one out of 38 trees. “Don’t be discouraged by small trees, because they establish better than large trees. They will be here for generations to come,” he comments.
“It important to understand that planting trees is not about quick results. They are an investment, and with everyone’s help we can maintain and grow the urban forest in Coronado,” he highlights. “We need the community to be tree ambassadors. If residents talk to each other about the importance of planting trees, we can make a significant difference.”
The urban forest canopy is getting smaller as trees are aging and new development occurs in Coronado, which is divided into nine sectors, with an urban tree canopy of an average of 15 percent. This number is constantly changing, with the ideal goal for an urban forest at 30 percent, but the city would be satisfied if 20 or more percent was achieved.
Residents can easily scan a QR code to access information on getting trees planted in the “parkway” – the public right-of-way planting strip between the sidewalk and curb in front of their homes. Deadline to request a tree is Friday, Feb.17, 2023.
To learn more, check out www.coronado.ca.us/331/Street-Tree-Information, call 619-522-7380, or scan below.