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Thread: Why are street trees good and can we prove it?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Why are street trees good and can we prove it?

    We all go that there are a number of reasons that street trees are good, and almost a necessary for pedestrian based commercial area... But as with many things, can we prove it with data and studies? I need to find a reason to rock the boat and get a redesign of the road and street scape, including the installation of street trees along our historic downtown. Right now, there are no trees. I don't want to just say they can do some things, but I want data to back it, expecially when it comes to the economic benefit to both the City and business owners.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    I've seen several studies over the years that cite that value of trees on property values as well as the environmental impact of trees, i.e, one tree can absorb so many pounds of air pollution, shade which makes runoff cooler etc. Do a little digging, you will find what you need. Plus, there is that little matter of trees helping to create a sense of place (along with other things as well) that will attract many more people than a barren, tree devoid streetscape.
    He's a planner, he's a dreamer, he's a sordid little schemer,
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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MD Planner View post
    I've seen several studies over the years that cite that value of trees on property values as well as the environmental impact of trees, i.e, one tree can absorb so many pounds of air pollution, shade which makes runoff cooler etc. Do a little digging, you will find what you need. Plus, there is that little matter of trees helping to create a sense of place (along with other things as well) that will attract many more people than a barren, tree devoid streetscape.
    I could easily do a visional preference survey, but given some of the people who make these decisions, I need hard quantitative data because the department that does not want them cites the costs to the underground infrastructure and the cost to move the lines.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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    Cyburbian Plus dvdneal's avatar
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    I would find something on the economic development benefits. Tress make for an attractive downtown which in turn attracts people. I'm not sure where to find that kind of study though. You have an uphill fight against public works. It might be that you have to wait for a different group of elected leaders so your idea has a chance to connect.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    http://www.amazon.com/Street-Design-...2KWA3FAV4DP2XJ

    What about this book? I love reading through and it presents some great examples of amazing design.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Get your 22 Benefits of Urban Street Trees right here.

    They include both environmental and physical design value (mitigating heat island effect, dealing with pollutants, reducing reliance on storm infrastructure, traffic calming, creating habitable spaces and so on)
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    Get your 22 Benefits of Urban Street Trees right here.

    They include both environmental and physical design value (mitigating heat island effect, dealing with pollutants, reducing reliance on storm infrastructure, traffic calming, creating habitable spaces and so on)
    I just wished they did a better job citing their sources with outside reports.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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    Cyburbian jwhitty's avatar
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    Tree City USA Bulletin 28. Or if you don't want to pay the $3, contact your state forestry program. Arbor Day Foundation has a calculation tool as does Davey Tree and some of the others.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    can we prove it with data and studies? I need to find a reason to rock the boat and get a redesign of the road and street scape, including the installation of street trees along our historic downtown. Right now, there are no trees. I don't want to just say they can do some things, but I want data to back it, expecially when it comes to the economic benefit to both the City and business owners.
    This is one of my areas of expertise. There are, literally, scores of studies that say such. PM me if you need help beyond this:https://www.planning.org/store/produ...Code=BOOK_P555 some things are a little light but overall good enough.


    HTH

    BTW, trees need soil in which to grow. Any change in plan will require some provision for underground soil mitigation to make the environment safe for tree growth. Trees cannot simply be plopped in the ground and you call it good.
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    This is one of my areas of expertise. There are, literally, scores of studies that say such. PM me if you need help beyond this:https://www.planning.org/store/produ...Code=BOOK_P555 some things are a little light but overall good enough.


    HTH

    BTW, trees need soil in which to grow. Any change in plan will require some provision for underground soil mitigation to make the environment safe for tree growth. Trees cannot simply be plopped in the ground and you call it good.
    From what I have been told there are two reasons we don't have them. One, there is discussion that urban street trees don't grow, so don't bother planting them. Two, they interfere with the underground utilities.

    I have found quite a bit of information on the use of Structured Soils to allow for the roots to grow beyond the open pit area. I am still looking for documentation on how to address the utility issue. Do you have any ideas or suggestions beyond moving the utilities? As I dive into this a bit more I will be sure to PM you.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Might find some sources in here http://www.epa.gov/heatisland/mitigation/trees.htm and here http://www.epa.gov/heatisland/index.htm

    Also go to scholar.google.com and type "street trees" in the search field. You can narrow down the publishing date for more recent finds. All kinds of studies and reports come up.
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  13. #13
    You don't need peer-reviewed studies: you need Paris -- the laboratory in the City of Light that proves the value of street trees. I suggest a road trip.
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    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    How about Billy Joel's vehicular crash record as a case study:

    2002 - Billy Joel crashes into three fire well stanchions
    2003 - Billy Joel crashes into a tree
    2004 - Billy Joel crashes into a house

    Case in point, plant additional street trees whererever you can. Lack of trees allows for the greater potential of crashing into more expensive utilities and/or homes causing private property damage and injury/death. Trees can be readily replaced. Utility infrastructure, private property, and/or an innocent man? Not-so-much.

    sources:
    http://www.today.com/id/4835714/ns/t.../#.VcpfSvlVhBc
    http://easthamptonstar.com/Archive/2...s-His-Mercedes
    Last edited by UrbaneSprawler; 11 Aug 2015 at 5:22 PM.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    I dunno about proving the worth of street trees, but I do know that whenever I've proposed take any down (including for good reason, like code-compiaince or even that they're approaching end-of-life), even normally sedate community stakeholders tend to respond with violence or at least the threat of it. The only time I've ever been personally and physically threatened while acting in my professional capacity was over the taking down of street trees , People really like their trees, at least once they're up and mature.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    From what I have been told there are two reasons we don't have them. One, there is discussion that urban street trees don't grow, so don't bother planting them. Two, they interfere with the underground utilities.

    I have found quite a bit of information on the use of Structured Soils to allow for the roots to grow beyond the open pit area. I am still looking for documentation on how to address the utility issue. Do you have any ideas or suggestions beyond moving the utilities? As I dive into this a bit more I will be sure to PM you.
    What utilities are you talking about? Depending on the tree, shouldn't be an issue. Only issue I see regularly is old Live Oaks busting up sidewalks. The solution there is bridging the roots or using an alternate material for the path (steel checker plate).

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    From what I have been told there are two reasons we don't have them. One, there is discussion that urban street trees don't grow, so don't bother planting them.

    That is not true if they are given even a tiny bit of care and consideration at planting time. There is an oft-quoted study that found and average age of 9 years, but that study has been long refuted.

    Two, they interfere with the underground utilities.

    There are plenty of ways around this. Here is one pub, here is another.


    I have found quite a bit of information on the use of Structured Soils to allow for the roots to grow beyond the open pit area. I am still looking for documentation on how to address the utility issue. Do you have any ideas or suggestions beyond moving the utilities? As I dive into this a bit more I will be sure to PM you.

    Old-school engineers don't have the ideas, but the young ones do. They were introduced to them in school, and see them in practice. If you have a site where the utility trench is parallel to the traveled way (and therefore under tree roots), that was poor design and until the utilities are re-located under the sidewalk (and panelized concrete) or out in the bike lane-traveled way, there's no way to fix that bad situation. Structural soils are a problem over utilities only in the sense that they are a mess at excavation. They are one solution amongst many, despite what Bassuk and Grabosky have to say.

    BTW, structural soils have one concerning issue: their composition is only ~30% soil. The rest is larger non-soil material. Therefore there is less soil to hold water, so the effective amount of soil is much less than the total volume of the area. In a place where water falls from the sky, that is less of a problem than in the arid west.....

    HTH

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    Cyburbian southern_yank's avatar
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    Here's an interesting New Yorker article regarding trees. Some interesting stats about the public health benefits of street trees:


    http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/what-is-a-tree-worth


    Are such numbers fanciful? The emerald ash borer, which has killed a hundred million trees across North America in recent years, offers a grim natural experiment. A county-by-county analysis of health records by the U.S. Forest Service, between 1990 and 2007, found that deaths related to cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses rose in places where trees succumbed to the pest, contributing to more than twenty thousand additional deaths during the study period. The Toronto data shows a similar link between tree cover and cardio-metabolic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. For the people suffering from these conditions, an extra eleven trees per block corresponds to an income boost of twenty thousand dollars, or being almost one and a half years younger.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    The utilities is weird issue here. They don't want them in the street because of traffic issues when they need to be repaired and questions regarding ownership of the street. They don't want them close to the tree drip edge in fear of root problems, and they still want them in an easier to access location.

    Oh and one guy (who apparently has some serous clout around here) does not think that structured soils are the way to go, instead every tree needs several hundred square feet of uncovered surface to go.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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