I used to have some fine 100 year old eucalyptus trees in my yard. We were very proud of those myrtles, and they were allowed to grow as untrimmed and wild as they probably would have in their native Australia. Without the koala bears, of course. Though they did provide an occasional stopover point for the local emigre flock of green parrots. Who, by the way, respect none of us and thoroughly enjoy loudly heckling humanity from the safety of 100 feet up. They also have eyes on the sides of their heads, which is why they have to tilt their noggins to look at you. They are an odd bunch and should not be trusted.
Lately, though, I have developed a certain ambivalence about my trees. I don't hate them, mind you, my nature boy respect for the wild things still runs fairly deep. I'd be foolish to live right up close to a National Forest if that wasn't the case.
It is just that after last November's windstorm I have become aware of the dark side of tree ownership. Two of those mighty eucalyptus trees came crashing down during that mighty blow, one taking out my garage with the other laying across the entire length of my roof, perforating it here and there and causing Casa Crawford to leak like a Federal employee with a book deal during rain events. Also the top portion of our elegant backyard sycamore took out the family room in the back, damaging our fine collection of Parker Brothers board games in the process. My limited edition "full battle" version of Risk was completely destroyed, and I still mourn its loss.
Fortunately we are productive American citizens who pay both our income taxes and home owner insurance, and at the expense of the thoroughly browbeaten desk dummies whose home disaster coverage we bought, we now have a new roof, new up-to-code back room (the old one wasn't), and a completely rebuilt garage. The insurance guys paid for every last bit of it. They had no choice. We wore them down in a cruel and merciless way. We enjoyed doing it.
But here is today's Tattler Quandary. There is an article over there on The Patches (in a move likely driven by economics the individual town Patches have pooled their reporting and the same articles now appear on the numerous McBlogs they pimp in our area) that talks about some gummint move to replace all of the trees that were taken out in that fateful windstorm. The total budget for this noble act is apparently $1.9 million dollars that L.A. County borrowed from somebody, out of which Sierra Madre gets a $42,812 cut. An amount that would seem to be enough to buy a vast forest of saplings.
A few years back we lost a tree in our front yard, and lo and behold some fellow from the City of Sierra Madre showed up one day and planted another one. It was a replacement tree we were told. A fine young thing it was, at least at first. It died despite the generous amounts of water we gave it. We went on to refer to it as the joke oak.
So here is what I'm asking. Am I somehow obliged to accept replacement trees this time around? Is there a law stating that I am required to allow the planting of new trees where those once mighty eucalyptus stood? Because I have to be honest with you, I don't really want them.
I do appreciate the idea that Sierra Madre is a tree city committed to maintaining its "urban forest," as they say. And that for every tree that falls a new one must be planted so that everything remains just as it is. I am all about everything remaining just as it is. It has become my mission in life to see that this is so. Or at least an interesting and diverting hobby.
However, and having acknowledged the greatness of the tree cause, I would still prefer that the north side of my humble home remain as it is today. That is, treeless. This is because having ended up with around 30 tons of wood on my roof the last time the Santa Ana winds howled down Bailey Canyon, I have come to believe that trees, at least in that particular spot, are a menace. I know they'll be small and harmless at first, and I am aware that I will not live for another 100 years, but I still don't see the point in accepting that risk. Future generations are depending upon me to take a stand on this.
So here is my question. Is it some kind of law in town that I am required to accept replacement trees from the local government? Is this legally mandated, or is this something that can be handled on a voluntary basis? I have nothing against spending around $43K in tax dollars replacing fallen trees. Or at least I sort of don't. But I would much prefer that they be planted somewhere else besides my yard.
The City just cut down a bunch of trees at Bailey Canyon Park for some obscure reason. Maybe it was National Beaver Day and they wanted to let the chips fly and celebrate. I don't know. But they should feel free to plant my trees up there.
After all, they'll be needing to replace those as well, right?