Residents believe the trees are racist and were planted to segregate them from wealthy white golfers.
African-American residents believe that a 50-foot-tall stand of tamarisk trees were planted in the 1960s along the 14th fairway of a golf course as a way to segregate them from predominantly wealthy white golf players.
On Sunday, Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon told residents of the historically black Crossley Tract neighborhood that the city would remove the line of tamarisk trees and a chain link fence that runs between the neighborhood and the Tahquitz Creek Golf Course, reports the Desert Sun.
The decision to remove the trees and fence comes after neighborhood residents complained that the 50-foot tall tamarisk trees — an invasive species that blocks views of both the golf course and the San Jacinto mountains — have been lowering property values for decades.
The Crossley Tract was founded in 1956 by Palm Springs’ first African-American resident, Lawrence Crossley, at a time when black people who worked in Palm Springs were banned from living in the city.
The 10-acre Crossley Tract was intended to be a place where the black families denied housing within city limits could live. The tract has since been incorporated into Palm Springs.
Ground was broken on the Tahquitz Creek Golf Course in 1958 and the tamarisk trees were planted along the east side of the 14th fairway in the mid-1960s. They were not planted anywhere else on the course.
During Sunday’s informal meeting with about 50 residents of the Crossley Tract on Sunday, council member J.R. Roberts reportedly apologized for any past offenses on behalf of the city. City officials also said that they only became aware of the complaints in recent months.
It’s estimated that it will be about three months before the trees can be removed. In addition to approvals by the full city council, the removal project will need to be bid on and arborists will need to be called in.
In place of the racist trees, Crossley Tract residents are also asking that the city build six-foot-tall (unattractive) privacy walls for those who want it; and installing netting to stop golf balls from landing in residents’ backyards.
City officials estimate that it will cost about $169,000 to remove the trees.
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