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The City of Santa Barbara has a list 1,200 items long of all the trees designated for streets, ranging from the jacarandas on Abigail Lane to the coast live oaks on Wyola Road. Added to the thousands of trees under the care of the city’s urban foresters will be about 200 new trees to be planted along the city’s Eastside and Oak Park neighborhoods next year. Santa Barbara Beautiful donated $20,000 toward greener city blocks, in part through citizen donations for commemorative tree plaques; the nonprofit has donated tree-planting funds to the city for the past 57 years.

The exact species to be planted depends on an evolving idea of what is a desirable and undesirable tree, said Eryn Blazey, a member of the city’s marketing team. “These decisions consider things like mature tree size, canopy cover (shade), drought resistance, species diversity, and potential for disruption to infrastructure,” she said. “Of course, larger trees provide the most benefits, so we try to match parkway width with mature tree size to plant the largest tree suitable for the space.” Those benefits include not only a graceful canopy of shade for cooling during a hot summer, as recent studies have emphasized, but also beneficial amounts of stormwater infiltration, carbon sequestration, and oxygen production.

The Eastside work will be north of the highway, Blazey said, and once all the locations are finalized, the specific species will go in from 15-gallon pots. They’ll be looked after and watered for two to three years to make sure they take root and thrive, she said.

Volunteers can step up, too, said Nathan Slack, the city’s head forester: “Residents outside the planned planting areas who have the means to water a new street tree are encouraged to contact our office to request a tree be planted.” Water, and a watering schedule, can be unexpected pitfalls in the urban forest.

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