The Environmental Task Force recommended a water conservation project to convert the landscape surrounding the U.S. Post Office located at 425 15th Street in Manhattan Beach, to a sustainable garden with at least 50% less lawn, environmentally appropriate plantings, a water-efficient irrigation system, mulch applied between shrubs and trees, and walking paths made up of decomposed granite or mulch. City Council unanimously approved this project, and the Leadership Manhattan Beach 2012 class selected the proposal as their class project.
A site assessment was conducted by the City before any work on the project began. The lawn areas measures 4,381 square feet and consumes a substantial amount of water; calculated at 2,274 gallons of water per week. The landscape surrounding the Post Office is primarily composed of turf and ivy. The shrubs are many years old and are maintained by shaping into squares and circles, and there were two trees on the property that were unhealthy and dying. These trees were recommended for removal, and will be replaced by climate-appropriate species suitable for the project site.
The existing landscape would benefit from an update because it is on such a high-visibility corner of the City, which is one of the reasons the Environmental Task Force believed it to be a good location for a satellite demonstration garden, similar to the project flanking the entrance to City Hall.
The project will demonstrate the principles of sustainable landscaping, such as water conservation, reduction of runoff, and eco-friendly maintenance including the use of mulch. The Leadership Manhattan Beach class made use of the Community Mulch pilot program as they began work on the project site to smother any remaining turf and prepare the soil for planting in April.
The City and Environmental Task Force are looking forward to the partnership with the Leadership Manhattan Beach 2012 class to make this sustainable garden project proposal a reality.
The Post Office location was selected as a project site by the ETF because of its high visibility and potential to add to the civic pride of the City of Manhattan Beach. Because the project site location is one that will impact users throughout the community, a comprehensive public outreach effort is underway to solicit input and feedback from the public.
An initial project design has been developed in partnership with the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden and the Garden Magic Company to create a landscape that will conserve natural resources and revitalize the Post Office and City Hall Annex area. The design incorporates principles of sustainable landscaping and is intended to create a public space for the community to experience and enjoy. The project will also incorporate several other components of ETF programs, including a hands-on demonstration of the sustainable landscape audit and use of the community mulch pile.
The landscape features California native and climate-appropriate plants to draw wildlife to the area; seating, circular pathways, and a recirculating water feature for the public to enjoy; and is designed around an existing public art piece and flag pole. Should the existing features be removed or replaced, the design plan can accommodate those changes.
Tree Removal Recommendations
Because of visible tree-health issues, an arborist was brought in by the City to examine the site, and found serious problems with two of the trees on the project site. City Staff recommends that the two unhealthy trees be removed. Because the trees are not located in a tree preservation area, a tree removal permit is not required. However, staff has notified the community of the potential tree removal, sent notices to neighboring residents, and is collecting public comments from the community.
There are three New Zealand Christmas trees in the City right-of-way along 15th Street, plus a Monterey Pine and Victorian Box located in the south-facing landscape at the Post Office. The removal of the Monterey Pine and Victorian Box trees are recommended because of health and safety concerns. If removed, the trees will be replaced with climate-appropriate shade trees.
The Monterey Pine is located in the lawn area at the south side of the building, and is showing signs of a disease called Pitch Canker. There are no known effective treatments for this disease. The trunk leans to the north significantly and tree form is asymmetrical. There is some root wounding observable in the lawn, and the tree is in poor health.
The Victorian Box tree is also located in the lawn area at the south side of the building, and this tree is nearly dead. Defoliation is at an estimated 95% and longstanding site conditions and disease have caused necrosis.
Please direct questions to the City's Environmental Sustainability Division at (310)-802-5508.