A reader called Circling the News on April 15 from a reader and wanted to know who planted the oak trees in the circle in front of the Palisades Recreation Center building.
CTN contacted Park Director Erich Haas, who responded on April 17: “I have no idea who planted the seedlings. I am not sure about the timeline for the parking lot construction phase either. Maybe reach out to David Card.”
David Card, president of the Pacific Palisades Community Council and a member of the Potrero Canyon Park advisory committee since its inception, visited the site.
He responded on April 15: “I loved seeing the eight thumb-tall seedling oaks in the PP Rec Center turning circle. I don’t know who did it, but it’s a wonderful idea. In fact, it’s clairvoyant.”
He continued, “The Potrero Canyon Park landscape plans specify new irrigation for the circle and the planting of five 36-inch-boxes of Quercus agrifolia/Coast Live Oak, which is what is in the Founders Oak median on Haverford. We’ll have to figure out a way to save the tiny oaks when the parking and irrigation are installed and the big box trees get planted.”
Card explained that part of the circle will become new parking spaces, while the other part remains. “The parking creation and the landscaping of the circle will be one of the first things on the list for the Potrero landscaping contractor to do, when we get to that phase,” he said. “The landscape plans for Potrero will be going out to bid in June.”
The Park Advisory Board passed a resolution in July 2014 to adopt a plan devised by Palisadian Gustaf Soderbergh that would allow for the increased parking spaces to be constructed without sacrificing any trees or play areas.
Soderbergh, the founding principal of Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, an architecture, planning and urban design company, found a way to configured 17 spaces at the center island in front of the Rec Center building. At that time, the island featured five seemingly healthy pine trees.
Norman Kulla, who was a senior counsel to Councilman Mike Bonin, told the PAB that as part of the Coastal Commission’s Potrero Park conditions, 10 to 30 parking spaces needed to be added at the park.
Two years later, after a prolonged drought and a lack of hand waterring, the pine trees died and had to be cut down (during that drought, 28 diseased or dead trees were cut down at the park).
Soderbergh then created a plan for the circle to include a sidewalk with crosswalks and trees and to become more triangular in shape.