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
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.