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Kensington Park Heritage Trees

By Maggie McCann

On January 14, 2009 the City of San Diego's Community Forest Advisory Board (CFAB) voted unanimously to designate the Kensington library park trees as a Heritage Grove and Landmark trees. The designation confers upon the trees a special protection status, as described in the Tree Protection Policy adopted by City Council in 2005. The policy states that construction or renovation permits must now recognize the need to keep these trees alive.

The history of the trees that are actively growing in the park where the library is now located begins in 1910 when the Kensington Park subdivision was founded. The subdivision map was recorded in April of 1910, and Kensington Park was opened for the sale of lots for home building on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1910.

Photo by Maggie McCann

William Douglas was the sales agent for the original landowners, two sisters named Abbie Hitchcock and Mary Gleason. Douglas marketed Kensington Park as an exclusive residential enclave, and in the first few years large, impressive houses were built all around the park. As part of the amenities offered to potential buyers, the park was landscaped and an oval goldfish pond was built in the center. The pond was located where the present day library now stands.

Historic images form 1913 shows four Pinus canariensis, Canary Island pines; two located on the south side, and two on the north side of the pond. These and several more original trees remain today including an Araucaria cunninghamii, the Hoop pine in the same position that it occupies today.

The CFAB was able to ascertain from the photographic evidence as well as the accompanying report that the park trees are at least 95 years old and were part of the original landscaping for the original park for which the Kensington Park subdivision was named.

The City's Street Division implemented the Conserve-A-Tree program that allows anyone to nominate trees on public land or in the right-of-way as landmark or heritage trees. Through this process, decision makers can be provided with information regarding the historical context and value of our beautiful, mature trees when evaluating proposals for removal. Our historically designated houses tell a wonderful story, but often overlooked, our trees and parks have a story of their own that needs to be told.

2009 - Volume 40, Issue 1


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