With the City of Santa Barbara’s proposed plans to build affordable housing on the commuter lot at Castillo and Carrillo streets, as well as the new police station at the East Cota lot, what I am wondering is: What about the trees?
If these two proposals were to move forward, more than 100 mature trees, mostly tipuana but also a few coast live oaks and other species, would be thoughtlessly eliminated from our downtown. The irreplaceable mature trees are at least 20 years old. These trees remove carbon dioxide and debris from our air. They muffle noise and create wind blocks, as well as provide much-needed shade to our overly hardscaped downtown. They provide habitat to birds, insects, and numerous other biodiverse creatures too small for our eyes to see. Networking through their roots and limbs, the trees have created miniature urban forests.
The two parking lots of-interest must be two of the oldest lots in the downtown area, time-stamped by these mature trees lining the perimeters and scattered throughout the center islands. It would be a challenge to find two downtown parking lots as maturely landscaped as those two.
The trees have been there for us, serving us. Shouldn’t we respect and be there for them? Sure, the city could, theoretically, replant 100 saplings, scattered throughout downtown, but how many of those would survive 20 or more years before succumbing to natural and manmade elements, including neglect?
The city believes it can spare the parking spots, but have we considered the environmental impact of losing these beautiful, mature, living trees?
Didn’t Earth Day originate here, in Santa Barbara?