While riding my bike over to the Upper Arb tonight, I noticed that two trees on Oak St. between 2nd and 3rd were very close to the curb, one especially. I’m not sure when the reconstruction of the street occurred but it looks relatively recent, eg, in the last 5-7 years.
I dug around the City’s website and found that the street was reconstructed at a width of 30 feet. The issue came up when the Council was considering street reconstruction issues in 2007 for the 5th Street Reconstruction Project, including the width of Oak St. between 4th and 5th. See pages 28-29 of the Feb. 2007 Council meeting packet (italics mine):
Staff identified advantages to a narrower street including less expense for construction and ongoing future maintenance, more ability to protect existing mature trees, less impervious pavement, and potential traffic calming effects. Parking and problems and possible safety issues with varying street widths in the area were discussed…
One objection to proceeding was the proposed width of Oak Street. Oak Street between 5th and 4th Street is currently 29.5 feet, the two blocks of Oak Street north of this area between 4th and 2nd Street were reconstructed at a street width of 30 feet. The recommended width for Oak Street at this time is the minimal 32 feet for a residential street per current City ordinance.
- Despite the city ordinance, Oak Street between 2nd and 3rd was reconstructed at 30 ft, which is what the N. Plum St. residents were asking for
- At least two trees on Oak St. were not cut down despite being very close to the curb. N. Plum St. residents were asking for this for many of their non-Ash trees.
- City rationale for cutting down trees close to the curb on N. Plum St. is that the trees are not likely to survive. Yet the Oak St. trees look very healthy years (5? 7?) later.
- Staff in 2007 (which included Katy Gehler, then assistant city engineer) noted the advantages of narrower streets including "more ability to protect existing mature trees."
There are some differences between this portion of Oak St. and N. Plum St: 1) Oak St. between 2nd and 3rd has a sidewalk on one side only; 2) there are no power poles/electrical wires to be seen.
To an average citizen (me), this is perplexing and seems unfair. Or am I missing something?