Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quercus agrifolia

It’s a fancy name for an oak tree, the coast live oak to be specific.  While several types of oaks are native to Monrovia like the Engelmann Oak, when we think “oaks”, we’re picturing coast live oaks.  Monrovia has its fair share of these stately trees throughout town.  In fact, Monrovians have always had a great affection and appreciation for their oak trees.

William Monroe’s house at 250 North Primrose Avenue is called “The Oaks.”  Then there are all the street names: Oakglade, Oakdale, Royal Oaks, Winding Oak…at last count there were at least 9.  Foothill Boulevard used to be named White Oak.  Then there’s Garfield Place.  Most people know this as the street with the oak tree growing in the middle of it…we could go on and on…ok just a couple more…there’s Bradoaks (a school and a street) and the Live Oak cemetery.

So why are we talking oaks?  Well after a recent incident involving some oak trees caused quite a stir, we thought it would be important to set the facts straight.  

Back in 1987, the City Council adopted the Oak Tree Preservation Ordinance to protect our oaks and acknowledge their importance.  What this City law does is to classify the oak as a protected tree in many locations and requires a permit to cut down or do a major trimming on most oak trees in the City. 

Where is this story going?

Well last year, a house on North Mountain Avenue was sold.  One of the things that really attracted the new owners to the property were the three majestic oaks in the front yard.  Recently, the owner noticed that one of the trees was not looking quite right and called a Certified Arborist to take a look at the trees.  Unfortunately, the arborist determined that all three oak trees were fatally diseased and that the other two would soon succumb to the same fate as the first and recommended that they be removed. 

The owner, fully aware of the City’s regulations, came in to talk to City Staff and provided a copy of the report for the City’s review.  The City’s arborist reviewed the report and inspected the trees for himself and agreed that the immediate removal of the trees was warranted.

The trees were removed over the weekend and like we said, Monrovians are very keen on their oaks.  Seeing that these beautiful trees were coming down and not knowing the back story, passersbys called the police to report the crime.  The police arrived and stopped the cutting until it was confirmed that due to their health, the trees were approved to be removed.

While there is no real happy ending to the story for the oaks, we are very happy to hear that the owner has chosen to plant two large sycamore trees.  Not only are sycamores another Monrovia native, they are also resistant to the oak tree disease that is likely still present in the soil. 

If you’re still with us and want to find out even more about oak trees, their care, Monrovia’s ordinance, you can find it on the City’s website.