Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Idyllic Open Space Endangered

Photo: Diane Edwardson, 2004. Native California black walnut woodland thrives in the Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Just because the City's Grading Dept. approves a plan, does not make it an environmentally sound plan.

The plateau (above photo) along with the downslope (to the right in the photo) containing California black walnut woodland within the Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract will be eradicated if a developer's plan to subdivide and sell a 16-lot subdivision (15 homes and one "open space lot") gains final approval by the City Council.

The developer led the community to believe we would be gaining the upper plateau as open space, accessible to the public. However, the developer's grading plan calls for the removal of the entire upper plateau and slope below containing a thriving California black walnut woodland.

Community leaders reluctantly leaned toward the compromise, until they learned (after the close of public comment in December 2007) the slope and plateau would be removed and compacted 2:1, creating a steep, inaccessible slope. Native trees do not grow in compacted slopes. Plus, removal of the plateau would result in no functional park space.

While the developer maintained he would landscape the "open space lot," it is unlikely much would grow on the site. (But then, the developer is not going to build anything; just subdivide and sell.) For an example of a compacted 2:1 slope, see the Menlo Property on Riverside Drive north of Fletcher (the vacant lot between Home Restaurant and the River Glen Apartments).