February 8, 2010
All Gone:14,000-square-feet demolished next to Alma Park, and yes, there were redwood trees on the removal list
Here’s a photo of what’s left at the two-acre site, next to Alma Park, and at the corner of South California and Olympic boulevards. As I’ve reported previously (or not adequately, according to some readers), the Hall Equities Group is redeveloping the site to create two buildings, with a total of 17,000 square feet. These buildings would house a bank, restaurant, and retail and office space. This new complex will be called Centre Place.
So, in the last couple weeks, 14,000 square feet of the existing California Plaza have been knocked down cleared away. And, more controversially, for some readers of this blog, a bunch of trees were removed, including what one reader claimed was a grove of redwoods.
According to city Planning Commission and City Council meeting records, Halls Equities ultimately proposed removing a total of 18 trees. Seventeen of these were on the applicant’s property, and one small redwood was on city property. Back in early 2009, the city arborist said he would not recommend removal of many of these trees, including at least one of the redwoods. But the Planning Commission and City Council eventually said yes to the removal of all 18 trees. Five redwoods were on a list of the trees planned for removal, and these redwoods were among those that the city arborist surveyed. In his survey, the arborist had recommended preserving three of those trees.
A Crazy reader raised concerns about the redwood tree chop-down, and another reader said that the trees being chopped down were not coast redwoods, but Canary Island pines. Well, it looked to me liked the demolition team removed a redwood or two. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. The city arborist conceded that “the upside … relating to tree removals is that all of the trees are young and therefore not irreplaceable. … The sycamore and redwood trees are very fast growing species so replacements would be acceptable in my opinion.”
One issue that came up in the discussion about this project, specifically as it relates to Alma Park, the city’s 19th park, is a proposal to redo the entryway to the park—by chopping down and removing trees around it. It turns out that Walnut Creek police had expressed concerns about security and safety in Alma Park and supported the idea of opening up the plaza and park entry way, by creating a wider walkway, eliminating the trellis and vegetation. These improvements, according to city reports, would allow for more “eyes on the park.”
Unfortunately, for at least one reader, who lives in one of those buildings around Alma Park, the news that the KFC and Baja Fresh buildings will remain was disappointing: “I was further dismayed by the fact that KFC and Baja Fresh will still stand, as I've secretly been plotting for their particular demise ever since I moved in.”