By Alan Hirsch
Low-income people live in apartment complexes that are typically surrounded by parking lots. Typically, to gain approval, a landscaper plan encompasses a tree planting plan and a de facto commitment to maintain the tree into perpetuity. However, the city has a policy to not see if a tree is maintained as agreed upon. In fact, while the developer is required to plan enough tree cover to provide 50 percent shade for parking lots, in 15 years this is not enforced at all. The city draft of a new Tree Ordinance seems to have been written with no discussion about how to bring apartment and shopping center complexes back into compliance with city law … and their own promises.
Most code compliance by the city is driven by citizen complaints. However, the city has a policy not to release to the public the developer tree planting promises (Landscape Plans). The city claims its hands are tied by privacy issues but has not explored how they can avoid its using the “fair use doctrine” or the State Health and Safety Code. This means is it is hard for citizens to take action. This is another problem not remedied under the city’s proposed ordinance.
Below are some pictures showing mobile homes and apartment complexes, good and bad and power of public regulation to improve quality of life of lower income residents of Davis who typically don’t own the land there so that they can plant a shade tree.
Contrast tree shade with these two photos of mobile home parks. It is striking. Rancho Yolo (Pole Line and 5th) and Death Valley xeriscape of Davis Creek Park off Research Park in south Davis.
Rancho Yolo is in the city with some regulation, as trees had to be planted initially to get approval. Dave Creek Mobile Park (in south Davis off Research Park Dr,) is in the county, not city, with weak or no tree regulation. I would not call Rancho Yolo heavily treed—but, wow!
Parking lot asphalt gets heated to 140-150 degrees in the summer, so imagine living in a building on a hot plate. The next aerial shows the unshaded parking lot at Drake Apts. (fronting on both W. Covell & Drake between Anderson and Sycamore as comparisons). The city has a regulation requiring 50 percent shade of all parking lot surface for over 40 years, but it is not enforced and there is not plan in the new tree ordinance for any retroactive enforcement or application to shade to older parking lots.
Then there is the aerial is of multiple apartment complexes on the strip of land that parallels the Cal Northern RR between F and J Streets. This is between 8th St & Covell.
Note on on this picture:
- A) the great variation in Tree Canopy on parking lots showing trees are possible. Kudos to local landlord Tandem Properties for doing a good job!
- B) on Tandem and others, not the lack of street and open space between buildings. If our regulation only focuses on trees in parking lots we are missing something. Tandem Apartments have shade in “machine spaces” (parking lot) but also in the green spaces where people live and can hang out, i.e. by their front doors.
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