I often wonder about stuff. For example, I wonder about the two big live oak trees that grow in two city streets in Paso Robles. The two trees aren’t just beside the streets, or just in the streets’ rights-of-way. No, the trees are undeniably out in the streets.
And there’s actually room for vehicles to travel on both sides of these mature oak trees. They also aren’t standing in traffic islands surrounded by protective curbs. No, they are just growing there, surrounded by blacktop pavement. I believe those trees were there before the pavement was.
One of those trees is large, and the other is huge. Their broad canopies of limbs and leaves shade their streets. Those streets were included in the original 1887 subdivision map of El Paso de Robles. But I don’t know when the streets were paved.
I measured the circumference of the smaller tree’s trunk about five feet from the ground. It was 11½ feet around. I also estimated the diameter of its trunk to be about five feet across. This healthy tree stands in Oak Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets.
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It’s closer to Fifth Street than to Fourth Street, which is probably a good thing. Oak Street climbs a seemingly vertical hill from Fourth Street and then levels off abruptly. If the big oak tree was nearer to the crest of that hill, it could give unwary drivers a nasty surprise.
The larger of the two oaks is within two blocks of the smaller one. That bigger tree stands in Fifth Street just west of Vine Street. It is huge. The circumference of its trunk five feet above the ground measured 23 feet around. And I estimated the trunk’s diameter just above its root level to be 10 feet across.
Just above where I measured the trunk’s circumference I saw that the tree divides itself into five upward slanting branches. I call them sub-trunks because they could each support a tree. But still there is room enough left in Fifth Street to drive past the tree’s north side and room to spare to drive past its south side.
You might think the city would have installed flashing red lights on these two large living obstacles in city streets, but it hasn’t.
The smaller tree has just two red, 18-inch by 18-inch, diamond shaped, reflectors facing north and south. And the really huge tree has just one faded traffic cone. But I saw no collision scars on either tree.
I wonder if any past Paso Robles city officials or city councils ever suggested removing those two trees from our public streets. But of course they couldn’t possibly do that in a city whose official name includes “El Paso de Robles,” which can be translated as “The Path of Oaks.”