All Gone:14,000-square-feet demolished next to Alma Park, and yes, there were redwood trees on the removal list

Here’s a photo of what’s left at the two-acre site, next to Alma Park, and at the corner of South California and Olympic boulevards. As I’ve reported previously (or not adequately, according to some readers), the Hall Equities Group is redeveloping the site to create two buildings, with a total of 17,000 square feet. These buildings would house a bank, restaurant, and retail and office space. This new complex will be called Centre Place.

So, in the last couple weeks, 14,000 square feet of the existing California Plaza have been knocked down cleared away. And, more controversially, for some readers of this blog, a bunch of trees were removed, including what one reader claimed was a grove of redwoods.

According to city Planning Commission and City Council meeting records, Halls Equities ultimately proposed removing a total of 18 trees. Seventeen of these were on the applicant’s property, and one small redwood was on city property. Back in early 2009, the city arborist said he would not recommend removal of many of these trees, including at least one of the redwoods. But the Planning Commission and City Council eventually said yes to the removal of all 18 trees. Five redwoods were on a list of the trees planned for removal,  and these redwoods were among those that the city arborist surveyed. In his survey, the arborist had recommended preserving three of those trees.

A Crazy reader raised concerns about the redwood tree chop-down, and another reader said that the trees being chopped down were not coast redwoods, but Canary Island pines. Well, it looked to me liked the demolition team removed a redwood or two. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. The city arborist conceded that “the upside … relating to tree removals is that all of the trees are young and therefore not irreplaceable. … The sycamore and redwood trees are very fast growing species so replacements would be acceptable in my opinion.”

One issue that came up in the discussion about this project, specifically as it relates to Alma Park, the city’s 19th park, is a proposal to redo the entryway to the park—by chopping down and removing trees around it. It turns out that Walnut Creek police had expressed concerns about security and safety in Alma Park and supported the idea of opening up the plaza and park entry way, by creating a wider walkway, eliminating the trellis and vegetation. These improvements, according to city reports, would allow for more “eyes on the park.”

Unfortunately, for at least one reader, who lives in one of those buildings around Alma Park, the news that the KFC and Baja Fresh buildings will remain was disappointing: “I was further dismayed by the fact that KFC and Baja Fresh will still stand, as I’ve secretly been plotting for their particular demise ever since I moved in.”

25 thoughts on “All Gone:14,000-square-feet demolished next to Alma Park, and yes, there were redwood trees on the removal list

  1. I plan on burning these redwoods the next time the fascist BAAQMD calls a spare the air day. Hopefully the wood will still be green enough that copious amounts of 2.5MM particles will be produced.


  2. Redwood trees aren't native to Walnut Creek. Those types of trees grow in moist coastal areas. The Oakland Hills used to be filled with them, but they were chopped down to build homes in San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake.

    As long as the trees are replaced, everything will work itself out. Redwood trees are very fast growing trees. My neighbor planted 3 small redwood trees several years ago and they grew like crazy. They are now huge towering trees. Redwood trees are fast growing and are a renewable resource. They are very popular trees and thousands of new redwood trees are planted every year. A few redwood trees cut down, are of no concern.

    When one tree goes down dozens more are showing up everywhere else.

    We need to plant native trees in this area. Oak trees would be nice. It doesn't seem right to plant Redwood trees that don't belong in this area. It changes the look from the natural habitat that once was here. This entire area was once just Oak trees and rolling hills, not dense and dark Redwood forests.


  3. “I was further dismayed by the fact that KFC and Baja Fresh will still stand, as I've secretly been plotting for their particular demise ever since I moved in.” Kind of like the folks who buy a house near the airport and then complain about the noise of airplanes taking off and landing.

    2:54 – “It changes the look from the natural habitat that once was here. This entire area was once just Oak trees and rolling hills, not dense and dark Redwood forests.” Following that line of thinking…..why not do away with all of the buildings to restore the hills and oaks to a natural state! That would solve all of the problems that arise when the subject of growth comes up.

    There is a tree ordinance in Walnut Creek for a very good reason; sometimes it stops greedy developers from destroying even non-native trees that do enhance our suburban areas. I say sometimes, because very often the City Arborist changes his mind when pressure from Commissions and Council occurs at the behast of developers who wish to maximize their land use.

    2:52 – It is not only conservative nut jobs who do not like the no-burn rules and it really has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative.


  4. It seems to me there was once a tree covered hill across from what used to be the veterans hall. There were many oaks, locusts and other native trees covering it. city hall bulldozed the hill and trees to make room for a 14 screen theatre. I would have preferred to keep that natural and unique setting and built a smaller theatre but alas, developers and their minions prevailed.


  5. The hill that used to be where the movie theater was located was covered in non-native eucalyptus trees. They were a fire hazard and were constantly dropped messy droppings on cars. Those trees needed to be removed.

    The hill was a parking lot for the San Francisco Federal Savings building. It was poorly designed, and it felt like cars could go sliding down the hill when parked. The road leading to the upper lot was also poorly designed with one lane. You could have a head on collision with other cars just entering or exiting the parking lot. The hill was prone to landslides and was a hazard. I was so glad when they got rid of it.


  6. Bob:

    Get out on the street and away from your library buddies…..ask people you don't know about the size and visual impact of the new library on Civic Park. I think that you will be surprised by the answers.

    Driving down Broadway the other day with my 11 year grandson was illuminating…..he, without promoting from anyone, said he thought it was ugly and too big. Out of the mouths of babes!


  7. ANON 5:02 – –

    There were also large oak trees on the east side of the hill. The city allowed these to be chopped down because they wanted the butt-ugly movie complex that Blake Hunt was going to build.

    Surprise, surprise, dollar signs in their eyes once again blinded them to what was a rather charming area of town. Just look what their greed created!


  8. Anon 7:08 when I read your posting to my eleven year old nephew he said without prompting …. “what an old fool”. Which following your logic must be the truth?


  9. Anon 7:27,

    Why do you find it necessary to be hateful?

    At 56, I do not consider myself old nor do I know anyone who thinks I am a fool.

    I was not using logic as the illustration on my grandson's remarks, I was speaking the truth.

    If you do not like my observation, say so, but do not mock me or anyone else with whom you disagree. It is rude, ignorant, unecessary and counterproductive.

    Anon 7:08


  10. 5:02…I'm so glad you mentioned that hill because I'm looking at a picture of it right now. The funny thing is, I don't see a single eucalyptus tree. However, there are deodors, elms and a palm, and a well worn path.

    In addition, 3 live oaks and a locust, which are supposed to be “highly protected,” were among the 46 trees that were chopped down with that hill.

    So, next time you blog, spare us your half baked memories.


  11. I was a kid in the 80s and went often to San Francisco Federal Savings. There were eucalyptus trees in the parking lot for the bank at least in the lower level parking lot directly behind the bank. They had a lower lot and the lot on top of the hill.

    There was an auto center behind the bank's lower parking lot. Years later the auto center was demolished and they also removed many of the trees on the hill.

    I don't know when the photo you are looking at was taken. There definitely were eucalyptus trees at least around the lower bank parking lot many years ago in the 80s.


  12. Anon 7:39PM

    you are such a tough guy. Who else do you dare? The IRS making you pay your taxes? The CHP stopping you from drunk driving? The TSA from stopping you to bring your gun onto an airplane?


  13. 8:56 a.m.
    The photo was taken, facing away from the theater, and west toward Alma Park, and where the building used to be. I was standing on the sidewalk on California Boulevard, across the street from Plaza Escuela.


  14. To anon 10:47 PM, I believe we had a misunderstanding. I was referring to the eucalyptus trees in the former parking lot behind the San Francisco Federal Savings building. The building is now a Citibank. That was where the confusion was. I was talking about the old hill that used to be behind where Citibank is now.


  15. SM,

    I do believe that 8:56 am and 10:47pm is the same person and is talking about the photo that he/she was personally looking at that shows the hill and it's trees before the theater was built. At least that is how I read his/her post.

    I have vivid memories of going to the hearing at City Hall when the theater project was being approved and the over-flow crowd was against it's construction. Not only because of the tree removal but also because the one remaining downtown hill was to be dozed down to make way for the project. Increase in traffic and congestion was a major concern and those concerns have pretty well proven to be true.


  16. Three cheers for the native trees that will be planted.

    If you have a big lot then by all means plant redwoods. I laugh at people who plant redwoods in side yards of relatively small lots. Yeah they are fast growing and provide perceived “privacy” but they tend to become oversized, block neighors' light, and spew leaf litter over time.

    That shopping center was obsolete and am glad that the DEVELOPER is INVESTING MONEY IN WALNUT CREEK. More than I can say for the tax-dollar sucking public who expect everything for nothing.

    The private sector is what keeps the economic engine running and you all should be glad that these developers think WC is a place where they can thrive.



  17. WOW, this project is really coming along. Just looked at the pics of the new park entrance that the developer is building, it looks awesome. The buildings look great too.

    Why do so many so called “Walnut Creek natives” get upset when developers build new stuff??? This project looks great and the new Neiman Marcus building is going to look very cool. The new sushi bar on N. Main is another refreshing remodel.


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