Will City Enforce Its Building Code on Trees?

By Alan Hirsch, Part-time Lorax

The Oak Shade Mall at Pole Line x Cowell is asking for conversion of some of its office space to housing in the Wednesday Davis Planning Commission Meeting.

However, I must note the Oakshade Town Center, now over 25 years in operation, is currently non-conforming with its original landscape plan that called for 50% shade for all its parking spaces after 15 years. I have attached an aerial photo showing this gross failure.

This is due to

  • Neglect of irrigation system that has caused trees to die or be stunted.
  • Topping of trees in parking lot across from Safeway.
  • Choosing to planting trees that won’t grow big enough to shade spaces as promised.
  • Failure to replace dead or diseased trees in a timely manner, if at all.
  • The failure of trees to thrive also indicate likely poor (AKA cheap) planting technique when they were originally constructed that stifled the tree root growth.

There is currently no city enforcement mechanism or penalty to bring this shopping center into conforming with the city’s parking lot shade ordinance, to which the developer had promised to conform as part of receiving their original entitlement.  I must note the center has taken advantage of this by not just neglecting trees but also by abusing its tree canopy by topping trees they have grown to keep
them small.

I suggest that if the city grants the shopping center owner the entitlement right to convert office space to housing,  the city should require the shopping center owner also to post a performance bond to bring the tree canopy into conformance with City Code. I suggest  $230,000 (based on the value of a mature tree they failed to grow at $5000 x the number of undersized trees which I count as 46), and the shopping center be given no more than a 10-year time frame to bring the center back into conformance with city code, or the bond be forfeited to the city.

The shopping center has had over 25 years to conform to a 15-year regulation, but as its topping of trees indicates, it flaunts the law because it can.

And finally, I must note, given their neglect of the trees, the owner calling this center “Oakshade” is a kind of cruel joke on the city and its residents.



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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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14 thoughts on “Will City Enforce Its Building Code on Trees?”

  1. Alan Miller

    For shame!  Exposing the fact that the City has no enforcement policy.  That developers can make promises that they and the City knows need not be kept.

    That’s the advantage of being around awhile, you get to see the same promises made in presidential race after presidential race and see that they are hollow and won’t be kept, but four years later the suckers take them all in again.  And also, how so much of what is promised with development agreements is never enforced, indeed no means ever to be enforced.

    This City claims to love it’s trees, but there is little follow up.  Witness Slater’s Court slaughtering the line of trees across from the Amtrak station for a new unit, being fined by the City, which then caves when Slater’s hires lawyer.  Or the beautiful historic tree that was deemed safe by arborists slaughtered when the family that bought the house said they were afraid a giant branch would fall on their children.

    Do we really love our trees?

    Only when they aren’t in the way.

  2. David Greenwald

    Ashley Feeney from the city sent the following information to the Vanguard: “The proposal is for a different property by a different owner.”

    The Oak Shade Town Center is not the subject of the application that is to be heard by the Planning Commission on Wednesday night.  The proposed entitlement application is for the Oak Shade Commons property across Cowell Boulevard from the shopping center.  The proposal is limited to one specific existing building in the apartment complex which is shown in the aerial you included in your email showing a bus stop symbol in front of it.  The property is not under the same ownership as the town center. “

      1. Howard P

        Nexus?  No entitlement being sought… not currently in the codes/ordinances… government excess to require/impose beyond those two?

        “Should” is philosophical… then, there is the “law”…

        1. Keith O

          I suggest that if the city grants the shopping center owner the entitlement right to convert office space to housing,  the city should require the shopping center owner also to post a performance bond to bring the tree canopy into conformance with City Code. I suggest  $230,000 (based on the value of a mature tree they failed to grow at $5000 x the number of undersized trees which I count as 46), and the shopping center be given no more than a 10-year time frame to bring the center back into conformance with city code, or the bond be forfeited to the city.

          I’m just wondering if the author will still suggest this since he had the wrong info and there is no office conversion going on at this site therefor the city loses that leverage?  That’s all.

  3. Ken A

    I’m wondering if David is going to take down the story, edit the story, or just keep it up (like so many sites that don’t care if they run “fake” news)…

    1. Howard P

      The generous thing would be to take the erroneous story down, make sure it doesn’t get “archived”, and just chalk it up as a “whoops”… If the author wants to revise it to focus on the non-erroneous parts (the real issue of follow up on the shading standards), they can re-submit…

      No dog in this, but a suggestion…

  4. Tia Will

    Some may not have noticed that this is a guest piece, not written by David. While correction of some sort is in order, having authored a number of guest pieces here as a doctor, I do not expect David to have the knowledge, or even the time to go through and screen all guest submissions for accuracy. In this case, I believe a clarification and correction statement should be adequate since I think it is apparent that no deception was intended.

  5. Eric Gelber

    Brings to mind Gilda Radner’s classic character:

    “That’s Oak Shade Commons, Miss Litella, not Oak Shade Town Center … Commons.”

    “Oh, that’s very different. … Never mind.”

  6. aaahirsch8

    I am working to fast…and went out of town after this was posted. .

    This is not the property asking for conversion.

     

    So I suppose we are all good on Ignoring building code violations re: Tree Shade…until they publicly ask for a CUP or other public process permit.

    Are we all good on continue to OK ministerial building permits and ignore the tree violation, right?

     

     

     

     

    1. Howard P

      So I suppose we are all good on Ignoring building code violations re: Tree Shade…until they publicly ask for a CUP or other public process permit.
      Are we all good on continue to OK ministerial building permits and ignore the tree violation, right?

      Haven’t seen anyone say that… that part was a legitimate concern, in my view.
      You ‘polluted’ an important point by the way you presented it erroneously.
      No one’s fault but your own.  Own up to that, and make your point, and what logically/legally you propose to be done to correct the issue.
      Don’t whine.

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