San Ramon council to talk resolving Dougherty Valley tree problems

Also: The Preserve development, new vice mayor, budget and city goals update

The San Ramon City Council is set to consider whether to approval the proposed Dougherty Valley Tree and Planting Strip Management Plan following a hearing Tuesday night.

The plan would address the large tree species planted in narrow turf planting strips throughout San Ramon's Dougherty Valley, which are causing significant damage to infrastructure in the area, according to city officials.

Ever since late 2012, city officials have reported receiving hundreds of citizens' requests for service due to damage or potential damage caused by tree roots in the planting strips.

In response, the San Ramon council approved a specific capital improvement project in 2013 to deal with the problem, which would include removing individual trees that had caused or had the potential to cause infrastructure, and, where appropriate, replace them with other, smaller tree species.

But because of the wide scope of the tree damage, city staff later recommended crafting a new plan to handle the troublesome trees -- by January 2017, tree roots had caused thousands of irrigation breaks and significant sidewalk damage at an estimated cost of over $450,000 since 2012 and millions more in potential future damage. About 400 new trees had been planted to replace the over 600 that were removed.

"Since that time, tree removals have been put on hold, except for emergency situations," reads the plan's environmental review document. "As the region has emerged from drought conditions, treeā€related repairs and costs have continued to increase along with continued tree growth."

On Jan. 10, the council authorized an agreement with California Tree and Landscape Consultants, Inc. (CalTLC) to develop the Strip Management Plan, and three months later the council appointed a group of residents to the Dougherty Valley Citizens Tree Committee.

After months of discussions and deliberation, the Tree Committee has come up with three options for the plan.

The first -- preferred by the committee as the "hybrid option" -- would develop an initial annual plan to address existing service requests, and then a follow-up multi-year plan to remove and replace trees and landscaping in areas with significant damage (or potential damage) to utilities and infrastructure.

The second option would involve proactively removing and replacing trees and turf with appropriate species, and the third option is to respond to service requests and deal with problems as they arise.

The council will consider approving the tree plan itself as well as the accompanying environmental review at Tuesday's meeting. The costs of implementing the plan will be presented during the fiscal year 2017/18 mid-year budget review, and additional funds for the project will be requested as part of the city's five-year capital improvement program 2018-23.

If the plan and environmental review are approved, staff will begin developing an annual work plan and schedule, create a report to revise the city's tree ordinance and form a standing Urban Forest Citizens Review Committee, as recommended by CalTLC.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chamber at San Ramon City Hall, 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road.

In other business

* The council will consider moving forward with new actions on The Preserve development, with three items on the agenda revolving around the project: a resolution that would approve annexation of four subdivisions to a San Ramon Community Facilities District, along with two resolutions that would approve the final maps and authorize the mayor to execute improvement agreements for two of the subdivisions within the project.

The Preserve (formerly known as the Faria Preserve) is situated on a parcel of land between Bollinger Canyon Road and San Ramon Valley Boulevard, about 1,500 feet north of Crow Canyon Road, within the Northwest Specific Plan Area.

The facilities district is authorized to fund a variety of public facilities and municipal services, such as police services and facilities, parks and recreational services and facilities, street lighting and landscaping services and flood and storm protection and water treatment.

The annexation resolution was already up for approval at a council meeting on Oct. 10, but council members requested that the item be reviewed by the Finance Committee for additional information. After review of the development's fiscal impact study on Nov. 6, the committee recommended the council consider the annexation as recommended by the study.

Also on tap for Tuesday, the city will consider approving final maps for The Preserve's subdivisions 9443 and 9457. Subdivision 9443 covers an area of about 21.70 acres on the north side of Faria Preserve Parkway and west of Purdue Road, and will create 141 residential lots. Subdivision 9457 consists of an area of nearly 10 acres, also on the north side of Faria Preserve Parkway and west of Purdue Road, and will create 69 residential lots.

* Council members will consider appointing a vice mayor for 2017-18.

* Mayor Bill Clarkson will recognize the participants in this year's Citizen's Planning Academy in a special presentation.

* Inez Mahon, chair of the Senior Advisory Committee, will present to the council the committee's annual report.

* During a special meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, the council will hold a workshop, during which time the council will hold a recap of their council-appointed budget focus group and update the council's 2017-18 goals.

The special meeting will be held in the EOC Meeting Room, also at City Hall.


1 person likes this
Posted by Member
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 14, 2017 at 8:34 am

Hopefully the city will only plant "low allergy" trees from now on (see OPAL scale). The landscaping is making our community sick with heightened allergies and asthma.

1 person likes this
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Besides the choice of tree types used, the original planting of trees in the planting strip areas just had too many trees planted, too close together.

Landscape designers and contractors of course like selling lots of trees and shrubs, and it is typical for them to recommend far more trees and shrubs than are actually needed, spaced too closely together.

Things look great right after the planting, but (surprise, surprise!) trees and shrubs grow. And pretty soon it is apparent that they are too close together.

This isn't rocket science - anyone who has ever dealt with landscape designers knows that you often/usually need to cut down their recommended quantities, and space things farther apart, based on what the plantings will look like in 5+ years....

(This is not to say that ALL landscape designers "oversell" things. But the ones who did the original plantings along Bollinger Canyon Road in Dougherty Valley certainly spaced the trees way too close to each other.)

24 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:47 pm

This is your esteemed government at it's best. The county screws up by planting trees too close to curbs, etc., so that those trees must be removed & associated damage repaired, all to the tune of something like $11,000,000-, & San Ramon annexes Dougherty Valley & gets stuck with the bill. How do these rocket scientists get away with things like this? The answer is simple, a disconnected non-critical thinking electorate that doesn't hold the city & city council accountable. Only about 20% even bother to vote bothers to vote in off year elections.

3 people like this
Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Nov 16, 2017 at 7:07 am

There are also certain varieties of trees which don't have as many surface roots and/or grow slowly. I worked in a nursery many years ago and found that trees are like dogs in some respects......Everyone loves puppies, but don't always know what to do once they become full grown dogs.

2 people like this
Posted by Dissapointed
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2017 at 2:17 pm

[Post removed due to excessive and/or repetitive post by same poster using different screen names]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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