Oakland needs these trees! Join the fight to save them.
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For seventeen years, I have been walking by a grove of unusually healthy and majestic trees on a piece of land between 11th and 12th Streets in Oakland, CA, bordered by Clay Street. Unlike most other trees in Oakland, which are crammed into planter boxes or surrounded by pavement, these trees have been able to root down into soil topped by a lawn.
I heard a rumor a year ago that these trees would be taken down so another building could go up. Despite making a trip to the Planning Department (two blocks away in downtown Oakland), I was unable to get a confirmation of this rumor. Then, recently, I was walking by my favorite trees, and I noticed that where there used to be a manicured lawn, there were now waist-high weeds. Oh, no, I thought to myself, the rumor is true, and these trees are about to come down.
Another call to the Planning Department confirmed my worries. According to the City, these trees were never supposed to be here, anyway, and there is a developer about to build on this lot, and the only way they can turn a profit is to occupy the whole lot and cut down all the trees.
I KNOW there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other office workers and residents in downtown Oakland who love these trees as much as I do! A city planning process that sticks by a plan even when a miracle of life (which is what these trees are) has happened is NOT an acceptable city planning process.
There is a way for us to save these trees! Where there is a will, there is a way. Let's take a brief moment to come together as a downtown community and find the win-win solution:
- Win for the trees! Let them stay, protected from threat of development now or in the future.
- Win for the developer! We don't expect them to walk away from their investment. We only ask for them to work with us to develop other ways to utilize this property, WITH the trees, as collateral. Let this be a mitigation bank. Let this be a private park that is sponsored by existing downtown businesses. Let's explore the solutions together.
- Win for the City! Build a planning process for this century that is nimble and can be adjusted with changing realities and needs, such as these trees.
- Win for us! Let these trees continue to clean our air, grace our presence, and calm our minds.
- Win for future generations! Cities need trees. People need trees. The planet needs trees if we are to navigate and stabilize climate change. These trees need to be saved for future Oaklandites.
We can come up with these wins. We just need to come together and do it.
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