top of page

Occidental Avenue Island Refurb

The island on Occidental at mid-block between W. Poplar and Clark is overdue for a makeover.  A plan for one is on the drawing boards.


What’s wrong with this island as it is, you may ask?

  • It is planted with shrubs inappropriate for this location.

    • Oleander shrubs are sometimes called “highway shrubs” for a reason: they are often planted in highway medians where they get the full sun they need.This island is shaded so the oleanders are leggy and not very attractive most of the year.

    • The central cotoneaster is a twiggy, undistinguished thicket.

  • The trees are an inconsistent, incohesive mix.As far as we know, John McLaren designed our islands to be groves, each planted with a single species of tree.This one, over time, has been planted with coast live oak, manzanita, black acacia, arbutus.

  • As a result, the island has a rather higgledy-piggledy, unkempt, inharmonious appearance.


It’s past time to spruce up this island and, as has been done or begun with other islands around The Park, to begin the process of establishing a cohesive grove of trees here. 


The first step is to select the species of tree that will be planted, now and as needed in future.  The long-term objective will be (again, as it is elsewhere in The Park) to move toward a single species on this island.  This has to be a long-term goal as the heritage-size trees, of course, won’t be removed.


Netleaf oak is the City’s recommendation.  Islands along Occidental are predominantly planted with oaks: Hungarian, coast live and valley oaks.  This island has a coast live oak, but the City does not include these in its most current tree palette, which has been updated to account for the current and anticipated warmer, dryer conditions our trees must handle.  Their recommended Netleaf oak, a beautiful, large evergreen, will make this island distinctive within The Park.  For good information about this tree that includes useful, time interval photos showing how they develop, look here:


What is the plan for this island?

  • The mature, heritage trees -- oak, manzanita and black acacia -- would be retained.

  • Other, small trees, including the manzanita that is a shadow of its former self and the arbutus trees, would be removed.

  • The straggly shrubs would be removed.

  • Multiple Netleaf oaks would be planted in the cleared and cleaned up grounds.

  • Mulch would be added to the island, as needed.


This program was developed with and approved by the City, of course.  As with all work on the City’s islands and trees, it will be contracted for and overseen by the Parks Department, even though funded by this Neighborhood Association.  Their planned timeline is to have an RFP (Request for Proposal) out in January.  If the winning bid is accepted by us, the grounds work should be undertaken in February and the trees planted by March. 

bottom of page