City wants to plant a replacement tree 2 YEARS after removal

I'm old enough to have experienced plenty of ridiculousness from city offices, but this might take the cake. A couple of days ago, we received this City Tree Planting Notice:

Nothing too unusual there, you might think. The Urban Forestry Division of our great town removed one city tree on our property and will replace it with another.

Except look at the date of the letter: September 23, 2021. 

The tree that started all this—a Bradford pear, arguably one of the nastiest and trashiest trees ever to torture this planet—was removed by the selfsame Urban Forestry Division on October 24, 2019. That was 706 days—or 1 year, 11 months, 5 days—ago.

October 24, 2019, the last morning we had to tolerate this Bradford pear. It was removed later that day.

October 25, 2019, the day after the Bradford pear had been removed. (The Asian lemon bamboo to the left of it is now gone, too—cut down by yours truly to let in more light.)

Granted, a year and a half of the last two years have been anything but normal. But even allowing for that, does the City of Davis actually think homeowners will sit around for virtually two years after removal of a city tree waiting for a replacement? 

After the Bradford pear had been cut down and the stump ground out, we planted our own replacement in November 2019: a Santa Cruz Island ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius). 

November 29, 2019

My wife informed the City of Davis of this, and the Parks and Urban Forestry Department confirmed “that you have planted a private replacement tree in this location. We have removed [our address] from the planting list.” 

September 29, 2021

Case closed, or so you would think.

Except, like the proverbial bad penny, it's back again.

I don't know if this is a “computer error” (always a favorite) or what, but once again, my wife has to take time out of her busy day to try to get through to the person in charge and hopefully stop the Urban Forestry folks from showing up at our house and trying to plant a blue oak. 

Not that there's anything wrong with the blue oak (Quercus douglasii). It's a California native, superbly adapted to our climate, and able to handle drought with seemingly effortless ease. But it's very slow growing, which limits its usefulness as a street tree in (sub)urban environments. Plus, at least in our situation, its ultimate size of 60 ft. or more would make it much too large to be planted this close to the house.

By the time all is said and done, this back and forth will have cost the City of Davis at least a few hundred dollars in personnel costs—money they constantly claim they don't have. I find it hard to believe we're the only such case of crossed wires, so the wasted $$ add up. More than anything else, this makes me sad because it's all so unnecessary. Our city could do so much better.

9/30/21 UPDATE: 

My wife received an e-mail reply from the city stating that "the Urban Forestry Division does take every effort to replant a tree for every tree removed. Based on the size and conditions of each property, replanting may need to be done in a different location than the placement of the previous street tree. The Urban Forestry Manager has approved replanting of this tree in the Greenbelt and not at this address." 

I'm happy with this outcome. The blue oak is far better suited for the greenbelt anyway.

© Gerhard Bock, 2021. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. Oh my! So much to say about this... but I guess mostly I'm just amazed that Portland isn't alone in it's crazy mismanagement of street trees. Hey I guess at least in Davis people who aren't gardeners don't have to go buy a tree, the city provides it for them. Here not only do you buy it, but then the city tells you want you can and can't do with it.

    1. I think the City of Davis prefers to provide the tree, knowing it's from their approved list. OTOH, the selection is usually very small--maybe 3-4 different trees.

    2. Happy ending: you are still rid of that awful Bradford Pear...

      However wonderful Q. douglasii, its size is completely inappropriate for that location--you've saved them how much money in trimming and pavement repair??? Thousands. Not to mention the Oak will now hopefully grace the greenbelt for decades to come. At least your city seems to care about trees. A neighbor and I have begged the county and SC Edison to remove the dead tree next to the power pole and electric line before it falls and starts a fire and...its still there.


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