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City adopts new street tree list
Financial assistance program to help homeowners with tree maintenance
street tree pic
The Sycamore trees that line W. Main Street and their high and expanding roots have caused much damage to the adjacent sidewalks, and in some cases, homes. - photo by Journal file photo

For almost a year, the City of Turlock has been tackling the issue of the many broken sidewalks and overgrown and diseased trees that have become hazards for Turlock's residents. The Street Tree and Sidewalk ad hoc committee finished its work on Tuesday, by presenting a revised Street Tree Theme and Map that addresses some of the issues that arise with different tree varieties.

This revised list of approved street trees comes after the City Council adopted a new ordinance in December that requires notification of property owners' maintenance obligations related to street trees and sidewalk areas with every sale or transfer of property.  The City of Turlock Municipal Code requires every property owner and every person occupying property within the city to maintain street trees in the parkway or planting easement on or adjacent to his or her property.

According to Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Manager Erik Schulze, over the past three years, City staff has seen an increase in the number of property owners requesting to remove and replace their street trees due to root problems or disease.

The revised Street Tree Theme and Map, adopted by the Council 5-0 on Tuesday, eliminates some trees previously approved for planting in designated neighborhoods, including the Bradford Pear, Carob, Fern Pine, Raywood Ash and Evergreen Pear  due to issues such as high root systems, susceptibility to mistletoe or other diseases and not being drought tolerant.

The revised tree list also includes four new varieties approved for planting in Turlock — Paperbark Maple, Mimosa, Eastern Red Bud and Big Leaf Maple. Before removing and replacing a street tree, however, residents should contact the City to find out which tree varieties are approved for their specific neighborhood, as Turlock has a landscape plan.

"The best efforts of all involved were really centered around exploring just what it is that we can do to insure that we're not perpetuating some challenges that we were facing with our discussions. Why continue to do the same thing and expect different results, in other words?" said Council member Bill DeHart, who served on the ad hoc committee, along with Vice Mayor Amy Bublak.

Along with the revised Street Theme and Map, the Council also approved the implementation of the Street Tree Maintenance Financial Assistance Program. This program will help to off-set the high cost of street tree maintenance.

"This is a means for effectively addressing street hazards throughout Turlock. That folds in with what we already have with our sidewalk  financial aid," said Schulze. "... it will add another tool in our tool belt to try and mitigate these issues that we run across when we have sidewalk and tree issues. Previously we did have the sidewalk help, but that didn't help when you had a tree issue.

"If you're in an older neighborhood with an established tree, the cost of removing the tree or doing root pruning can be severely more expensive than the sidewalk work is. So working these two together, hand in hand, they'll really help us as we go through this process," he continued.

For more information on the Street Tree Theme and Map or the Street Tree Maintenance Financial Assistance Program, contact the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department at 668-5594