Council approves Leadership Manhattan Beach project

The trees currently in front of the post office in Manhattan Beach.

The trees currently in front of the post office in Manhattan Beach. Photo courtesy of Sona Kalapura

This year’s Leadership Manhattan Beach class and the city’s Environmental Task Force have teamed up to renovate the landscape around the U.S. Post Office on 15th Street and Valley Drive to conserve water.

The City Council unanimously approved the landscape renovation on Tuesday; the group will begin working on the project within the next two weeks.

The $20,000 project, which includes installing circular pathways, climate-appropriate plants and seating, will be covered by the organization’s fundraising efforts. None of the city’s general fund money will be used.

“I think this project represents the best kind of synergy,” said Councilmember Amy Howorth, adding, “If you build one of these demonstration gardens in a public area, people see it and they get inspired; so it’s not just saving the city water, it’s inspiring and educating the residents.”

The project proposes that two trees, the Victorian Box tree and the Monterey Pine tree, be removed and replaced. The organization is considering replacing the trees with a California sycamore, California lilac or Coffeeberry tree, said Sona Kalapura, the city’s environmental programs manager.

The Victorian Box tree was determined by the city’s arborist to be 95 percent defoliated due to disease. Residents and the council agreed that this tree could snap at any time, creating a liability for the city.

The replacement of the Monterey Pine tree, on the other hand, presented more controversy.

The arborist rated the Monterey Pine tree fair/poor, noting that “beginning signs of disease are observable.” The tree has symptoms of Pitch Canker, a disease for which there is no known effective treatment, according to the arborist’s report.

Dean Francois, former public works commissioner and green task force member in Redondo Beach, spoke against removing the Monterey Pine tree, noting that the tree provides carbon sequestration and other benefits to the environment. “It’s just a shame that no one will speak for the tree,” he said, adding, “Just because it has a few brown branches and gets in the way of some pristine project.”

Since 1992, each year’s leadership class has completed a project to benefit the community. Last year, the class worked with the city to bring 45 custom bike racks to different high-traffic areas around the city.

To donate to the project, send checks to LMB 2012 Project, 1140 Highland Ave. #167, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

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