You’ve Got A Frond

The core mission of the Streetscape Committee is to clean, maintain and improve hardscape infrastructure, green infrastructure, and other street furniture such as sidewalk benches, trash and cigarette receptacles, etc. The committee is now working to develop a unified vision of what kind of plantscape solution La Jollans want for the village. Plants and trees help to beautify the community for the attractive benefit and enjoyment of merchants, residents, and visitors alike.

A unified plantscape solution that encourages a sense of friendly and healthy community in the village might sensibly include tree wells with appropriate trees planted in the ground, sidewalk planter pots, and water-efficient hanging flower baskets. A unified plantscape solution allows La Jolla to plan the way our streets look, and to determine how our sidewalks are best utilized for the public benefit.

To put the village and its plants into perspective, it is invaluable to first take a broad overview. The Earth’s natural terrestrial biosphere and ecological systems have become irreversibly coupled with anthropogenic (man-made) patterns of land use, which include forestry, agriculture, dense urban settlements, and villages such as ours. Forests cover about 1/10th of the surface of the earth, which is about 1/3 of total landmass area. Forest, woodland, and scrubland is a natural community of plants and trees, just as a village settlement is a community of people, pets, etc. A local “zone of life” is known as a biome.

In an upscale, attractive, Mediterranean, temperate coastal village biome such as La Jolla, street level plants, trees, and flowers are naturally symbiotic with people and pets as an integral part of the village street landscape. Plants and trees are themselves beneficial green infrastructure, in many ways: Plants and trees help to control runoff and to filter water.

Plants and trees abate noise, helping to provide quieter streets.

Plants and trees break down and absorb many types of pollution and other harmful contaminants.

Plants and trees absorb carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

Plants and trees create oxygen. A mature tree generates enough sweet, breathable oxygen for a human family of four!

Shade trees save water and energy by shielding from the sun and sheltering from winds. Many of La Jolla’s magnificent mature eucalyptus trees, torrey pines, norfolk pines, palms and other species are irreplaceable trophy specimens which are invaluable to the history, beauty, atmosphere and ambiance of La Jolla. A nearby example for inspiration is UCSD. The UCSD campus is one of only nine campuses in the country to receive the designation “Tree Campus USA”. California Urban Forest Council member Samuel Oludunfe is the campus forester. See Article: Green in More Ways Than One: UCSD’s Trees Pay Big Eco-Dividends.

In 2003, American Forests reported its Urban Ecosystems Analysis (UEA) for San Diego, calculating that the entire stock of trees, the “urban forest” within metro San Diego has a value of more than $700M! The City Council has reaffirmed the importance of healthy green infrastructure by supporting a continuing program of urban forestry.

Properties on streets and in neighborhoods that have healthy mature trees and plantings are worth more money than properties on streets that are without appropriate trees and plants. Streets and neighborhoods with business and service establishments also benefit greatly from attractive plants, flowers, and trees.

It is critical to plant the right trees in the right locations as determined by climate, subclimate, sun exposure, water supply, soil type, and also the specific location with respect to structures and other infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks, aerial and underground utilities, etc. Because of the hills above, much of the village seems to enjoy a water table that is conducive to growing healthy, strong trees. In addition to appropriate choice, placement, and planting, infrastructure trees also require proper nursing, trimming, and maintenance. Trees help to warm and soften any urban landscape. Across most of the U.S., only very poor urban areas lack trees and plants.

Sidewalk planter pots can help the streetscape committee provide the next integrated layer of beauty and practicality for the village. Planters stocked with decorative and drought-tolerant native and non-native palms, flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses and succulents have advantages other than merely aesthetic ones.

Some of the leading merchants and property managers in the village have decorated their frontages with public sidewalk planter pots at locations on Prospect, Girard, Fay, and elsewhere. For a good example, take a look at the 7800 block of Girard. Sidewalk planter pots can help La Jollans enforce control of proper placement and distribution of news racks throughout the area. Here is how this works: One of the rules governing news rack placement is that, to avoid crowding the public sidewalk, a news rack cannot be placed within 6 feet of any landscaping. A sidewalk planter duly qualifies as “landscaping”. It would be prohibited to have a news rack anywhere on a section of sidewalk where there are planters that are spaced 12 feet or less apart.Cement planter pots of this type cost approximately $60.00, including soil and drought-tolerant plants. Once and for all, La Jolla can “buy back”, beautify and control our community’s sidewalks for only $5.00 per linear foot! In this way, La Jolla can practically prevent and control haphazard and arbitrary news rack proliferation while beautifying the commercial district’s sidewalks. Please talk to your neighbors, and contact the streetscape committee if you would like to have sidewalk planter pots or other improvements placed on your block.Hanging flower baskets are the next layer of plant beauty that La Jolla can utilize to accent and decorate the streets of the village. For several reasons, the streetscape committee and other concerned La Jollans feel that it is now time to readdress the subject of hanging flower baskets in the village as a part of the unified plantscape solution for La Jolla.

  1. Hanging flower baskets that are more sustainable will use an estimated 85% less water annually, conserving both water and maintenance costs even while pleasing our senses with hanging cascades of lush foliage and bright flowers. Drastically improved hanging flower basket maintenance efficiency is ample fiscal justification for the cost of changing out the baskets. The wire baskets are very porous by nature, but the proposed replacement baskets are not. The new replacement flower baskets have only one pencil-sized drainhole in the bottom, which is to avoid flooding in the event of torrential downpour.
  2. The proposed replacement flower baskets are made of thick, dense plastic (HDPE), which will not off-gas VOC’s or break down by exposure to pollutants and sunlight. They are very strong, already approved and insured for heavy duty municipal use by cities and institutions all over the country. The thick plastic also prevents undue solar heat gain, which in turn minimizes potential unnecessary evapotranspiration, saving all the water just to promote luscious plant growth.
  3. Hanging flower baskets made of wire last only a few years; the proposed “terra cotta” plastic replacement baskets have an indefinite, very long multi-decade lifespan; original hanging flower baskets of this exact type have been hanging at DisneyWorld since DisneyWorld was built.

It is important that La Jolla make some changes to set an example for thinking green about water conservation while simultaneously beautifying the community, helping business, and attracting visitors to the Jewel.For assistance requests, comments, to volunteer, or to just weigh in on a unified plant solution for the village, please contact the streetscape committee.