Mission Street Jacaranda Tree Removal
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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