New Trees Spruce up Davita Dialysis Facility

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Scenic Street volunteers planted nine flowering sidewalk trees around the dilapidated Davita Dialysis facility on Claremont Avenue at Clifton Street last month, but ground-breaking on the company's own landscaping improvements – promised over a year ago – remains to be seen.

"The new trees will add badly needed greenery around the neglected property," says Peter Lund, founder of Scenic Streets, the local group coordinating the effort. "Our goal is to improve the street view of this prominent property without inhibiting its business activities" he says. His group has added a total of 29 new sidewalk trees to the Rockridge-Temescal gateway in just the past year, and volunteers water them regularly.

Last month's planting was a true community effort that took months to arrange, Lund explained. Scenic Streets had first to negotiate permission from the property's landlord. Then-Councilmember Jane Brunner provided funds for the sidewalk cutting last fall. Urban Releaf, a local nonprofit organization, donated the trees and lined up two dozen volunteers from First Congregational Church of Berkeley to dig the holes. Within a few months, decorative shrubs will be added to boxes with support from a Temescal merchant's group, he said.

Ideally, the trees would have been installed after Davita had completed its own landscaping upgrades to the property, such as replacing the ragged perimeter fencing. However those improvements remain bogged down in red tape, and Lund says the trees simply couldn't wait any longer.

Scenic Streets continues to enable Davita to begin its landscaping improvements. Beyond new perimeter fencing, a company spokesperson pledged in October 2011 to add more greenery to the property's northwest corner. Shortly thereafter, Scenic Streets provided bids from local contractors totaling just over $20,000 for the entire project, but surprisingly little progress has been made by the $7 billion corporation since. Davita operates over 1,800 dialysis treatment facilities nationwide including three in Oakland, said Lund.

Davita's landlord confirmed he is receptive to the proposed improvements and is awaiting formal documentation from the company's representatives. The paperwork should be the final hurdle, and Lund remains optimistic that the company will fulfill its promise this summer.