The City Council on Tuesday approved recommendations to fill four of the 10 holes downtown that once held trees.
An advisory committee convened by the city manager recommended replacing the three ficus trees removed from in front of 222 Ocean Ave. with three Tristania Conferta, commonly known as Brisbane Box, sometimes as Queensland Box.
The committee also recommended a Metorsideros Excelsa — a New Zealand Christmas tree — to be planted in front of 300 Mermaid, to the dismay of Mayor Kelly Boyd.
He said New Zealand Christmas trees in front of the Marine Room failed to grow in 25 years.
"I was hoping to see trees with a nice canopy to give people shade," Boyd said.
The committee also agreed that no tree should replace the one removed from 300 Second St. but could not reach consensus on the remaining five locations.
Neither approved tree is native to California.
The Selva Partners team of Greg Vail, Bob Borthwick and Ann Christoph, consultants to the city on the Scenic Highways and Landscape Resource Document update, made the initial recommendations on replacements to the advisory committee, which included city landscape architect James Dockstader, Beautification Council President Ruben Flores and city staff.
Flores, who was horrified by the tree removal, made no public statement at the meeting.
"It's all good," he said from the audience.
Councilman Bob Whalen said the unintended consequence of the tree removals was the view that opened up on Ocean Avenue.
"You can see the ocean," Whalen said. "It's kind of nice to see the lifeguard tower."
View blockage was not the reason for the tree removal, which created a public outcry. That was done in conjunction with a sidewalk repair project.
Replacement trees were reviewed for fire safety, maintenance, likelihood of roots damaging sidewalks, growth rate, size, canopy coverage, response to salt and wind, availability of suitably sized trees and more, according to the staff report.
The proposed planting of two eucalytus trees, one on Forest Avenue and one of Second Street, concerns the Fire Department, which recommended delaying approval until fire code updates are completed.
Councilwoman Toni Iseman said only two of the many "trip and fall" lawsuits involved sidewalks damaged by trees and wanted to know if the city is addressing the sidewalks where trees are not an issue.
City Manager John Pietig said the city has inventoried sidewalks and appropriated money for repairs. He said people should alert the Public Works Department about cracks.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun