Nobato residents become embroiled in a conflict over the central island that has been transformed into a natural environment.



Neighbors at a Novato housing development are embroiled in a dispute over an island in the median, which they say is unsightly and a fire hazard. However, the island’s founder said it is just a natural environment and they are working hard to protect it.

Alameda del Prado is a street that connects to the Pacheco Valle neighborhood. There, the landscape is well-maintained and the plants are arranged in neat rows. But back on the street, it’s a random island, and Masia Basara feels very alone there.

“This is part of the monarch butterfly habitat. The milkweed, which is currently being cut back, can get up to 3 feet tall, so it covers everything here,” Basara said.

When she first adopted the road median in 2009, it was completely barren and hard soil. Over the past 14 years, Basara has been transformed into a natural oasis of flowering plants and trees, providing a habitat for all kinds of pollinating insects.

Among them is the beautiful monarch butterfly, which only started appearing about three years ago. There’s only one problem he has.

“They don’t see it as an improvement to their neighborhood. They see it as an eyesore,” Basara said.

“A lot of people are frustrated by the lack of designs,” said Kay White, a member of the Friends of Pacheco Valle group. “So we’re trying to create an attractive entrance to the valley, and it’s the first major island that you see, and it’s in a precarious stage of growth, and it’s going to be and It will continue to be so.”

A group of homeowners wants the landscaping of the median to be changed. But along with aesthetic concerns, White said there are concerns that the tall, dry grass present in the summer poses a fire hazard if mass evacuations become necessary. There are also plans to reduce or eliminate oleander bushes lining other medians.

“We are working to reduce flammable vegetation in the middle of all six islands,” White said. “Except that Marcia Basara has control over one of those islands.”

The fire department sends conflicting messages, saying that “medians landscaped with pollinator and native species will be retrofitted with attractive, easy-to-maintain landscaping that exhibits fire protection properties.” Sent to owner.

However, Basara still has a letter from the same fire department telling him to “evacuate!” He acknowledged that “the efforts of the Novato Fire Brigade and Mr. Basara have significantly reduced the fire risk of the ADP (Prado Avenue) as an evacuation route.”

“First of all, they wanted to kick me out of here because of the way I looked,” Basara said. “Then there was a fire hazard. Then it didn’t work out, so we went back to the façade and there was a fire hazard again.”

The homeowners think Basara is just being stubborn.

“She turned down three other places where she could grow wildflowers,” White said. “And we don’t feel that’s very reasonable or considerate given the need to have a clear exit route out of the area.”

But Basara has spent years tending to her garden every weekend, and it has come to mean a lot to her.

“I’m really serious. In addition to my full-time job, this is my mission. That’s why I stick with these sites,” she said. “I feel terrible. I don’t sleep well because I’m worried about this and worried about the creatures losing their homes, because that’s the reality.”

The homeowners convinced the city to hand over the remaining five median strips for maintenance. However, for now, her one island, which Basara has officially adopted, is still under her control.

Both sides have said they are willing to compromise, but so far no one has found common ground. Cities that own median strips seem reluctant to declare a winner because they have to choose between fire protection and conservation.

As such, Basara remains on the island, preferring the randomness of nature to human planning.

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