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Downtown: Love It or Leaf It

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As the sun broke through the clouds Tuesday, crews planted the first of nearly 300 tipuana tipu trees in Town Center as part of a downtown beautification and renewal project.

The first batch of yellow-blossomed South American tipus, as they are commonly known, were planted along Del Prado Avenue, near Street of the Blue Lantern.

The city hopes the trees, which will be placed along Del Prado and Pacific Coast Highway over the next few weeks, will provide a pedestrian-friendly environment that entices residents and visitors who are driving by to stop and visit downtown shops and restaurants.

With no prevailing architectural theme in the downtown’s buildings, officials also hope to create a common landscape thread that promotes Dana Point’s small town, sea coast village atmosphere.

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“I am very excited,” Councilwoman Karen Lloreda said of the tree planting. “They are going to add a lot to the area.”

The tipus are not a new sight in Dana Point, as some can be found on Stonehill Drive between Del Obispo Street and Camino Capistrano.

The medium-size trees will grow to a height of about 25 feet, with clusters of apricot to yellow, pea-shaped flowers blooming in June and July. As semi-evergreen trees, they have a short dormant period and stay green most of the year, according to Kathy Jones of the Dana Point Nursery.

Ed Doll of Dana Point-based Forsum, Summers & Murphy Inc. is project manager for the Town Center tree planting.

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“We’re trying to create a consistent scene,” Doll said. “The whole intent is to start to develop the downtown Town Center.”

Last year, the City Council appropriated about $55,000 to buy the trees as part of a $580,000 beautification project that includes the tipus, upgrading the tree wells they sit in and improving irrigation systems.

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The tree planting is the first phase of a planned 15-year, $10-million downtown revitalization project. Eventually, the city wants to widen sidewalks, create more parking and narrow Coast Highway.

Patrons at Daddy-O’s Bicycle Cafe, across from where the first trees were planted, said the tipus were a positive addition to the whole city.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Capistrano Beach resident Jeanette Taylor said. “A town that tries to beautify their community with natural things is always desirable to the public.”

Daddy-O’s owner Joanna Szeckley was excited at the prospect of a more attractive, people-oriented downtown.

“We love the trees,” Szeckley said.

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“This town needs something. . . . I hope it brings more people down here.”


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