Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

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By Glen Mowrer

With little warning the City of Santa Barbara has acknowledged that 5 or more jacaranda trees near the Mission Street 101 freeway exit are soon to be permanently removed,  These trees are between San Pascual and San Andres where more than 10 older jacaranda trees have long survived.

These plants will not be replaced at that site.

The loss of these beautiful trees is another exploitation of the Westside neighborhood to which they have long offered prideful beauty.  It is also a loss to the greater community as the Mission freeway exit is a major visitor ingress into our town.

I have used this exit for decades.  When the season of jacaranda flowers in on us the drive from down Mission is magical. In addition, there is a serious historical issue at play for Santa Barbara is one of the earliest cities in California to import this spectacular Argentinean tree that came to our state for adoption at the time of the Gold Rush. [LAist.com]

This long standing joy is being taken from us for reasons that are somewhat hidden and certainly deceptive.  Though it seemingly only glances against the Westside, it is part of the forcible extension of dedicated bicycle lanes into that community.  It is another step toward the ultimate goal of making the conversion of street parking, pedestrian walks and traffic lanes into bicycles lanes a de facto accomplishment on the Westside.

I frequently drive on Micheltorena, San Andres, and often walk the residential streets in this neighborhood.  I can attest that the families that live in this community need their streets for the overnight parking of their business trucks and personal vehicles.  They need the car traffic lanes for their access to the rest of our town.  There is no alternative for the working people of this area.  They cannot simply build a new garage or car shelter on lots that are too small to contain such structures.  They cannot convert what would be substantial percentage of their living space into parking.

And they cannot make a living on bicycles.  Bicycles may be adequate for certain folks who are simply commuting to an office but they do not work for people in trades and services who must carry tools, parts, and machinery from site to site all around town. 

Better that these funds be spent on infrastructure that benefits the local community.  I can attest that there a major gaps in the pedestrian sidewalks of this neighborhood.  On Pedregosa near Manitou Road, for example, a long standing lack of sidewalk protection exposes pet walkers and bicyclists and others to significant risk daily.  I suggest the establishment of safe sidewalks would be a better investment for our community than would this expensive and little used bicycle benefit.

So I urge the people of Santa Barbara to take heed at what is being done so stealthily.  Start by demanding of your city council member and the mayor that the Mission Street jacaranda trees be protected and the esthetics of this city entrance be enhanced.  Then look at alternatives, should any be needed, to construct bicycle lanes in areas that such construction will not economically devastate this working class community.

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a-1592606279 Jun 19, 2020 03:37 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Thank you, Mr. Mowrer, for alerting the public to this proposed tree removal. My family and I have sent an email to The Mayor, urging that the removal of the Jacarandas be canceled.

a-1592606445 Jun 19, 2020 03:40 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

If others could please spare a few moments to join in to save these five trees: Here's the link to send short emails, urging that the tree removal be canceled. ----------------https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/contact/council/default.asp

a-1592606807 Jun 19, 2020 03:46 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Thank you for the alert!!!! Don’t these trees contribute to the overall city landscape?? The city would not let a huge pine be removed on Red Rose Way on the Mesa for that very reason! Those jacarandas have been beautiful fixtures on that stretch of Mission for so long, I cannot believe their removal is even on the table! Another bad decision from somewhere.

REX OF SB Jun 19, 2020 03:51 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

The goddamn bicycle cartel has got to be brought under control. They have gotten away with far too much for far too long. If they had their way, all motor vehicles would be banned from the city, there would be no on-street parking, and everyone would ride a bicycle. Sorry, it just doesn't work like that. These 2-wheeled warriors convinced the City to take out blocks and blocks of street parking on East Cota Street and erect dozens of large, ugly, dangerous bollards so a bikeway could go in. I drive on that street all the time, and the "bikeway" is virtually unused. Also in the works is a total disruption of Chino Street, where another bikeway abortion is planned. And now the destruction of a bunch of lovely jacarandas on Mission Street, so yet another unused bikeway can go in. STAND FAST, SANTA BARBARA! Don't let this happen. And thank you, Glen Mowrer, for bringing this travesty to our attention.

millimesa Jun 19, 2020 04:01 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Removing healthy and beautiful trees is heartbreaking but I do support safe and accessible bike lanes for travel. It’s hard to understand the whole story from the op-ed, but I do believe the area will provide landscape that evolves into comparable foliage.

CoastWatch Jun 19, 2020 04:06 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Not a fan of the NON- Native Jacaranda- which litters some part of the tree, twelve months out of the year- From the messy and sappy flowers to the tiny leaves that fall constantly, to then the sticks... They clog our creeks with tree litter. If you are a fan of this non-native species, plant a dozen in your yard and buy a bunch of rakes as you will wear them out...

a-1592614648 Jun 19, 2020 05:57 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Well, we could limit ourselves to native trees. That would be sycamore and California laurel I think. Anyone who has a sycamore in their yard knows how tough those leaves are. Pretty limited esthetic selection. If we are going to object to other trees the city has planted over the years consider the problems with the fig trees, the strawberry trees, the Italian pines, the liquid amber, the non-native palms, the poisonous oleander and so many others that have the audacity to drop flowers, fruits and other debris. There is no perfect tree but the jacaranda is, at times, close to it.

Minibeast Jun 19, 2020 11:56 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

COASTWATCH. Never would have pegged you for a leaf litter/tree flower litter whiner. All trees create leaf litter. Many create tree flower litter, too. Glad you weren't supervising the planting of trees in Santa Barbara way back when. What's your favorite tree? Artificial Xmas tree?

Britinsb Jun 19, 2020 04:32 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Pretty sure the trees are coming down because of a sidewalk extension, so the blame likely lands on pesky pedestrians this time.

bigman Jun 19, 2020 04:45 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

This bike lane BS is getting ridiculous and over the top. Leave it to a bunch of elitists who can afford to tool around on a bike all the time while others, who constitute the majority in this town, have a smaller voice. Do not remove the Jacarandas! Perhaps someone could get this to the local and maybe even state news. These trees are adored in many places in CA as they do not grow much outside SoCal or here.

RHS Jun 19, 2020 04:45 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

BRITINSB: Here is the confirmation of the purpose from CouncilmemberJordan. While the staff postulates that the trees will be "replaced" it is hard to see how they can be planted at this very public place since the purpose is to create room for a bike lane.

Glen - thanks for your email.
Unfortunately several trees will be removed for a significant community benefit project. Many more trees will be planted as replacements.

Here is the information on the project from staff-

There are five jacaranda trees that will be removed and replaced along the south side of Mission between San Pascual and Modoc. There is a need to provide a safe way to connect from San Pascual Street to Modoc for cyclists, and turning left across Mission street is not a safe alternative for most riders. The sidewalk along the south side will be widened to 10’ between San Pascual and Modoc, creating a short and safe connector path. It’s part of a larger project to provide safer connections from Downtown to and through the Westside. The eastbound bike lane will be eliminated, and the parkway will be moved in its place.

We really wrested with this, removing trees is never preferred. We’ve been working with the Urban Forest Superintendent to identify nearby suitable planting locations, and in addition to replacing these trees, about 50 other nearby tree planting locations have been identified thus far as good candidates for this project, and we’re still working to identify more locations. You’ll also notice that a number of new jacaranda trees were recently planted on Mission Street east of Highway 101 as part of the Mission St refurbishment project

Mike Jordan
City of Santa Barbara

Britinsb Jun 19, 2020 06:15 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Ah ok I think I get it, so a combined sidewalk/bike pathway kinda like out on Hollister past Fairview? I live around there on the other side of the freeway so cycle through that intersection quite before going up Modoc - it's definitely a bit of a sketchy intersection to cycle on but will take a closer look soon.

Ahchooo Jun 19, 2020 07:18 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

A ten-foot sidewalk? How wide are the people who will be walking there? Also, I wonder, is there funding for all these promised tree replacements? Because I’ve been trying to get a dead tree replaced near a bus stop near my house, and I’ve been told it’s on a list, but the money ran out. I’ve been trying for almost two years.

Sensibly Common Jun 19, 2020 06:16 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

The trees are being replaced. I emailed the city last week about this and they said the curb is being moved out to widen the sidewalk and replace the trees.

Glenn, please make sure you fact check.

RHS Jun 20, 2020 02:50 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Sensibly common: I did fact check and nothing you found is different than what I reported. "Replaced" is simply a weasel word. I am being told that the trees removed from Mission will be "replaced" at a different site. But if the staff has told you that they will be putting trees back in the same location as the removed ones I am very happy. (And, factually, my name is spelled "Glen" not "Glenn".)

a-1592623842 Jun 19, 2020 08:30 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

One cool thing about trees is that they grow. I love trees as much as the next person (we’ve planted over 15 trees on our lot since we moved in 5 years ago), I ride my bike through that area many times a week and I’ll appreciate a safer street. New trees will be planted, albeit in different locations, so things will be fine in a few years.

a-1592635778 Jun 19, 2020 11:49 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

In reply to: JUN 19, 2020 08:30 PM------One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how people assume that, once a nice healthy stand of trees is gone, the birds making use of those trees will just magically "move on," relocate somewhere else, find new trees to inhabit. Birds are very territorial, even the migratory birds. Birds find certain trees to their liking and they use the trees for perching, shade, nesting, sustenance, feeding their young, etc. When one or two or more established trees are removed, just where do you think those birds find "new"/ replacement trees?

pstarSR Jun 20, 2020 09:29 AM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

do birds just stop and look around and say " hmm, my trees gone. I might aswell give up and stop flying around to the other trees"

JSKI Jun 19, 2020 09:17 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

The City of SB is having a meeting about the tree removal on June 24, 2020 4pm. I believe you can join the meeting online and make a public comment about the issue. You can also write written comments but they need to be submitted no later than one hour before the meeting. Here's a link with all the information.

a-1592666274 Jun 20, 2020 08:17 AM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Surely we're a wealthy enough city that we can manage one of the most beautiful seasonal tourist-friendly things in the city.

pstarSR Jun 20, 2020 09:28 AM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

This was NOT all the sudden, this was planned and discussed. also posted weeks ago again, stating it was going to start happening.

Lucky 777 Jun 20, 2020 11:25 AM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

I sent in the photo two weeks ago, showing them in the beauty of their full bloom, and letting everyone know this would be the last time you see it. Trees often make better neighbors than people. Sad to see them go. Think you have representative government? Just try to stop their removal.

a-1592679745 Jun 20, 2020 12:02 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Beautiful, non-native, and filthy trees they are. I'm not anti-tree by any means, but jacs and eucs should be eliminated if their leaves/debris land on public streets, paths, and walkways. Shortly after we bought our rental units, the first thing we did was to hire a crew to remove a number of eucs and six jacs. Now the front and side lawns grow, renters from both properties stopped complaining, and our gardener's bill has gone down substantially. If you want them on YOUR property....no problem; but if I'm slippin'/slidin' on those squishy, greasy, filthy flowers/leaves....that's a different story.

NostraChumash Jun 20, 2020 12:29 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

A gentleman from the City once told me, that only 3% of trees here are indig.
It's a coastal desert yes, so trees are introduced (like zoo animals),
for human asthetic..
Trees will come & go.

Council Member ... Jun 20, 2020 01:18 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Hello everyone, I agree that removing the of five trees on Mission Street between San Pasqual and Modoc Road is unfortunate. The Westside community has been asking for safer bicycle facilities for over two decades now. The loss of the trees will also mean a safe, off-street cycle path on mission street. We are also going to be REPLACING the Jacaranda trees, which thankfully, grow pretty fast. We will be PLANTING MANY MORE TRESS THROUGHOUT THE WESTSIDE to make up for it. The city had 3 well attended community workshops about this issue where the community members voiced their concerns and the bike path chosen is in response to what the people asked for. These meetings were advertised on the local news, city site and social media.

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REX OF SB Jun 20, 2020 01:41 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Dear Anonymous Council Member: The City's slavish devotion to the demands of the bikeway gestapo is pathetic. As noted downthread, whenever the City caves in to this group, problems follow. Have you looked at how very few bike riders use the bike path on E. Cota Street after entire blocks of essential on-street parking were removed? Remember the hue and cry that erupted when the City was going to remove even more blocks of parking on W. Micheltorena Street to accommodate the bicyclists—until residents raised such hell that the bikeway plan was diverted? It would appear that there is a Svengali figure who is a bicycle coalition advocate, who is able to convince the City to kow-tow to every bikeway demand. No. Enough! As long as there are cars and bicycles coexisting on city streets, there will be problems. I'm not saying that bikeways aren't needed, in some instances, but Mission Street really isn't one of them. For years, I rode my bike 25 miles a day after work and Mission Street was a street I simply never rode on. You'd have to be nuts to ride a bike anywhere between State Street and the freeway on Mission. The street is simply WAY too narrow. So why build a bikeway to access it? Sorry, Anonymous Council Member, this is a terrible idea. Leave the jacarandas alone!

a-1592689428 Jun 20, 2020 02:43 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Council member: It is unfortunate that you have not heard from the people in the community about this. The voices you heard at these meetings were orchestrated by the bicycle support groups who have time and energy to push this agenda. Working people really have more life supporting things they need to spend time on. It would also be nice for you to identify yourself. Are you the member that represents this district?

Council Member ... Jun 20, 2020 06:37 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Hello A-1592703169,
I am identifying myself, my handle on this site is Council Member Oscar Gutierrez. Not sure why you can't see my full name but I suggest you contact the site manager. I am the born and raised west side representative and I was animate about not cutting the trees down but the residents at all of the workshops were ok with it. If you were there you would've know all this. It would be nice for you to identify yourself as well.

Minibeast Jun 21, 2020 01:19 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

It's so heartening, isn't it, when politicians use words like "unfortunate." Yes. Who cares about shade and birds and how long it took those Jacarandas to become the magnificent specimens they are today. Unfortunately . . .

a-1660068302 Aug 09, 2022 11:05 AM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Please come to our Save Modoc Rd Trees March on Aug 27th at 11am. Meet at the intersection of Modoc and Encore Dr, near the bike path. This is your chance to hug trees while they’re still standing and hopefully save trees!

Jence Jun 20, 2020 07:18 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Okay, so what? What’s the big deal? Jacaranda trees are a nuisance. They are not native and should not be planted again. Anywhere. Ever. Same with Tipo’s and Pepper Trees. Please, tree crew, take them out!!!

Council Member ... Jun 21, 2020 10:53 AM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Mr. Mowrer, you can give your real name on your Edhat account, just click on the setting. Also, I can't believe you knowingly wrote an op-ed with false information to miss-lead the public without any attempt to attend the public workshops or reaching out to the westside born and raised district repetitive in order to be informed. Change is uncomfortable but often necessary. In the future feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. ogutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov (805) 564-5394

RHS Jun 21, 2020 07:19 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

I did give my real name. Why are you being so defensive? My commentary is based on the information I was given by the city. If it is not correct, just say so. I was actually expecting you, as an outspoken member of the council, to buck the push and consider the needs of the people in your district. Apparently this is not the direction you are taking. PS I can't give my 'real name' by just clicking on the setting. I can give my real name by signing the piece when I post it, which I did. Which is also how you know to call me by my real name. No secrets here.

PitMix Jun 22, 2020 01:45 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Really with the advent of affordable electric bikes, it makes perfect sense to create bike friendly routes so that we can move about the city without feeling like we are in a craps game with our lives. With flat roads and relatively good weather, we could show the rest of the world how it should be done. If they replace the 5 trees with 10 small trees somewhere else, we can all be winners.

a-1592873669 Jun 22, 2020 05:54 PM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

Cars destroy more trees than bicycles do by at least an order of magnitude. Look at how much land is paved over for cars. Can you really not spare a tiny bit more for bicycles?

eldoradogirl Aug 09, 2022 11:28 AM
Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal

The City and the County of Santa Barbara really canNOT see the forest for the trees! Why do they make us choose between trees and bikes when other better options exist? In addition to these 5 jacarandas, at least 70 trees were chopped down to make way for the Las Positas-Modoc bike path - Phase I. As reported by Josh Molina in today’s Noozhawk, now 34 more trees will be chopped down as this regional Class 1 bike path makes its way further down Modoc Rd to Via Senda. https://www.noozhawk.com/articlea/santa_barbara_city_bike_path_tree_removal_modoc?

And of course right now the County is making plans to chop down 40-60 MORE trees to complete the Modoc Rd Multi-use Path - Phase II. They are asking the County Board of Supervisors to vote on September 13th - tell the BOS to vote NO on Alignments A and B (Awful and Bad). Tell the BOS we need an independent EIR that analyzes cumulative tree loss of the regional Class 1 bike path project , as well as impact to the Modoc Preserve’s environmentally sensitive habitat , before this Class 1 bike path project goes any further and destroys more trees and wildlife!

Don’t get me wrong, bike paths are a GREAT initiative, but NOT at the expense of 100 carbon-sequestering mature trees! Show me ONE scientific study that says getting rid of non-native trees will help reverse Climate Change. Sure, getting people to switch from cars to bikes and electric motorized vehicles will reduce CO2 emissions, but let’s not do it at the expense of trees, wildlife, and millions of precious gallons of water needed to irrigate baby replacement trees that often do not survive!

CEQA has let us down, the City has let us down, the County has let us down - please sign our petition and donate to our Save Modoc Rd Trees GoFundMe campaign to help us stand up for the Modoc Rd Trees - before it’s too late! https://www.change.org/p/save-the-modoc-road-trees/u/30817835?cs_tk=Alb4M8rPIPbLABOx-2IAAXicyyvNyQEABF8BvL5hywStDIbd5qsArwIe30c%3D&utm_campaign=2c54f83b2e11425c

We speak for the trees and the wildlife that is trying to survive in the riparian corridor and urban forest know an as the Modoc Preserve. Thank You.

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