Burlingame's Urban Forest
Why do we need Urban Forests? There are lots of reasons!
- Trees create a tapestry of color and interesting form that changes throughout the year
- The color green is calming and helps your eyes recover quickly from strain
- Studies show that urban vegetation slows heartbeats, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes brain wave patterns
- Trees screen unattractive views and soften the harsh outline of masonry, metal, asphalt, steel and glass
2. Shade and Coolness
- Shade slows heat build-up from hard surfaces like driveways, patios, and sidewalks and can reduce the temperature in urban areas by as much as nine degrees
- A tree is a natural air conditioner; the evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day
- People walk and jog more on shady streets, improving the sense of community as they stop and greet their neighbors
3. Economic Benefits
- Homes landscaped with trees sell more quickly and are worth 5% to 15% more
- Where the entire street is tree-lined, homes may be worth 25% more
- Trees enhance economic stability by attracting businesses; people linger and shop longer when trees are present
- Where a canopy of trees exists, apartments and offices rent more quickly and have a higher occupancy rate; workers report more productivity and less absenteeism
- Well-landscaped areas experience less crime against people or property
4. Save Energy
- Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air-conditioning needs by 30% and energy used for heating by 20% to 50%
- By slowing wind speed, evergreen trees reduce winter heat loss from your home by 10% to 50%
5. Reduce Pollution and Noise
- One large tree can produce a day's supply of oxygen for four people
- An acre of trees absorbs as much carbon dioxide as a car produces in 26,000 miles
- Trees remove sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, two major components of acid rain and ozone pollution, from the air
- Trees settle out dust, pollen, and smoke from the air. Dust levels can be 75% lower on the sheltered side of a tree than on the windward side
- Trees absorb and block sound, reducing noise pollution by as much as 40% (prolonged exposure to noise can cause hypertension, higher cholesterol levels, irritability, and aggressive behavior)
- Trees reduce surface water runoff from storms by 10% to 20%, decreasing the accumulation of sediments and chemicals in streams and reducing the severity of floods
Why do Trees Need Us?
- Landscaping - Native oaks need us to landscape around them with minimal watering, using drought-tolerant plants, river rock or tan bark, to avoid root rot.
- Smart Placement - Trees need us to choose them wisely so that their branches don't interfere with power lines (eventually, the necessary pruning disrupts their natural growth patterns) or that their roots don't interfere with sidewalks.
- A Good Start - For the first five years, newly planted trees need deep watering during hot summers. Weeds that compete for water must be kept out of the planting basin.
- Long-Range Planning - The urban forest needs us to monitor its health. We must remove trees that are dying from old age, disease, or drought, and we must plant new trees to maintain the forest canopy.
The Parks & Recreation Department receives many requests each month from property owners to remove private protected trees (trunk circumference of 48” or more). The individual is asked to complete an application for removal and state the reason for the request. A City Arborist then inspects the tree and approves the removal, if the tree is dead or risk to person or property is imminent.
If the tree is still healthy but other factors are involved (example: uplifting City sidewalk), the application is generally denied and alternate actions may be performed, such as sidewalk patching, tree pruning or fertilizing. Upon denial, the applicant is also informed that they may appeal staff’s decision to the Beautification Commission.
If the applicant opts to appeal, notices are sent to all surrounding property owners that the tree in question will have a public hearing before the Commission. The Commission then holds the hearing and makes a ruling. While most rulings of the Commission are final, any member of the public can appeal the ruling to the City Council.
If a property owner requests a City street tree be removed for other than health reasons, the request is routinely denied and can be appealed to the Commission as stated above. Trees in City parks are never removed for reasons other than tree health.