Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What If You Don't Want Any Trees? Does It Make You A Bad Person?

Don't get me wrong, I like trees. I still have a bunch of them here in my yard. They provide lots of cool shade during the summer, and are generally nice to have around. I have even gone to the trouble to try and find out what species they are, and what exactly it is that I should be calling them. And as soon as I get it all figured out I promise I am going to share that wisdom with you.

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?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. There are politically correct trees, and then the outcast trees - your eucalyptus are in the second category.
    No one will be replacing private yard trees with public money.
    It'll just be the PC trees (oaks) on public property.

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    Replies
    1. The City has replaced trees on private property before.

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  2. Uh...has anyone asked ya'?

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    1. You know, I should have made that clear. I am adding that to the article.

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  3. couldn't we just throw up a picture of a tree and pocket the cash?

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    1. Potemkin trees.

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    2. haha. exactly. hang it next to my aquarium screen saver

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  4. Why an urban forest? Why not an urban glade? Or grove?

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    Replies
    1. or tomato garden?

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    2. I see an opportunity here for the city to deal with its financial difficulties. Grow medicinal marijuana. Empty downtown shops could be used as pain clinics, which could then service the needs of the suffering people of the San Gabriel Valley. It would bring lots of people to Sierra Madre, which the SMPD could then ticket. Plus it would help out the restaurants.

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    3. This would be very popular in Sierra Madre.

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    4. Too bad. (former) Chief Diaz came before Council years ago and spoke in favor of an ordinance to ban all medicinal marijuana clinics from Sierra Madre. The Council passed it unanimously.

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    5. Where does she get hers then?

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    6. The Chamber of Commerce needs to lessen its dependency on the Wistaria Festival. This could be it. "Sierra Madre Bud Days." Has a nice ring to it.

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    7. Pot smoking is as bad as boozing.
      How about Sierra Madre Wasted Day?

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    8. I believe that would be the 4th of July.

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  5. $42K doesn't buy and plant very many stick trees. And you can bet that other than a good sized replacement pepper tree in Kersting Ct, the rest of the trees will be sticks. Any good contractor worth their salt will charge $500 to $950 to replace a wind damaged tree. Gawd forbid we should use our own PW crews to plant trees - nothing would get done in town for years.

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  6. I believe there is a law on the books banning the filling of native oak trees. If your 'joke oak' was one such tree you likely killed it by dilligenty but ignorantly overwatering. It's not bad to not want trees (after all this valley was largely arid once), but it's a shame that so few suburbanites appreciate the subtleties of the local ecosystem.

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    1. Usually when things go wrong in Sierra Madre it is the fault of the residents. Did you know that all of the robberies we are experiencing now are due to people leaving their doors unlocked?

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  7. Hey, there, Mr. Moderator--Before your yard was a yard for the house you live in it was part of an old eucalyptus grove, the trees were not planted as part of either your or your neighbor's home landscaping how many years ago they were built. Your ground zero position during the wind storm of last November 20/December 1 was your geographical fluke of nature. Living down wind in a canyon slot can do that to you. And on another note: The Fire Safe Council tried to convince the previous neighbor to the north of you there to take out these fire hazard trees, but the 20% rebate was not a really big dent in the total cost of this really big tree problem corner.

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  8. John, John, oh John, what are you thinking? You have to be careful when talking about the trees. One thing is the County may want to come by and cut them all down, or, the tree huggers may shun you. This is very dangerous territory to be in. You venture were many fear to tread, you are a man of little fear.

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    1. I think it all depends on how you feel about shunning. For some it is a personal disaster resulting in them being cut off from all that is important and meaningful. For others it means peace and quiet.

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  9. Wind isn't the only problem. The other day I drove past a house that had a *massive* old oak tree, probably in excess of 100 years old, which simply snapped two of its huge limbs due to the *heat*. Damaged the roof, took a couple of days to haul off all the limbs and branches that covered the entire front yard. It's "spread" was most of the yard and part of the house.

    Trees are necessary for a temperate urban environment, but they have to be the right kind of tree, located with the mature dripline a few feet from the edge of the roof of the house. Good annual trimming maintenance keeps the tree from getting overgrown. And please don't water the oak trees except in the fall/spring if the foliage is dried out!

    I planted a cork oak a decade ago because it doesn't "spread". They're gorgeous trees that are strong and drought-tolerant and the limbs spiral upwards; the Huntington Library has a couple of them. You also have to wait about 30 years to see a decent-sized tree, but it's worth the investment.

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  10. Trees require large amounts of water. The City tells us to conserve water and then requires us to water the trees THEY plant. Then we are charged to water their trees.

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  11. Ok, Crawford, you messed up big time on this one.

    Breaking News:
    I heard the Green Advisory Committee/Commission (GAC)will now have 26 goals:
    21 from the UN Agenda 21
    4 that GAC has added "to help us"
    1 to force Crawford to replant his trees.

    Thanks a lot.

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    1. you know there is a tree commission meeting tonight. Perhaps at this meeting the commission will officially censure the moderator and punish him by requiring him to hug and apologize to all the trees in town.

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    2. Not likely. More they'll congratulate him for no longer wanting eucalyptus trees.

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    3. i don't know about y'all, but i think we have too many trees, and the way those apple trees treated dorothy and her friends was reprehensible.

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    4. i dunno if an apology is enough, 1248, maybe he should also offer to take all the trees down to the buc for a couple cool ones

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    5. Be quite a trip for some trees. I guess they could lumber down Grove.

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    6. or grab their trunks and sign up for the reduced winter rates at the pool

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    7. I just hope they keep their attitudes adjusted and don't bark at the kids.

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    8. Jokes have their place, but I am not sure this is it. The tree issue is a serious one, and we need to get to the root of it.

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    9. Please do not lecture me. If you don't like what you've seen here, then leave.

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    10. I am sorry to hear this. Have you tried contacting our branch office?

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    11. Leaves me alone.

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    12. Wood I kid you?

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    13. This blog treats me like a sap.

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    14. I'm getting board with these puns.

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    15. Sorry 3:14, but I don 't think we're out of the woods yet.

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    16. don't ash me, but i think you may be right.

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    17. i pine for the days when people took talking trees seriously

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    18. nowadays people just plant themselves in front of the computer, even on arbor day

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    19. The Tree Commission meeting for tonight was canceled. Did they take a leave of absence?

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    20. They wood have met, 8:42, but none of them was feeling very chipper.

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  12. Not all trees require large amounts of water. The Tree Commission works closely with homeowners to select trees for their parkway area that will benefit best given the soil, water requirments of the tree, surrounding trees, etc. If the information needed to keep the moderators tree in good health was missing, then that needs to not happen again, for him or anyone else in the city that wants to have good trees for the future.

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  13. Now that the eucalyptus grove that Grove Street was named after is kindling wood, maybe the name of the street should be changed. How about Tattler Way?

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    1. Crawford Corner? Has sort of a "Mayberry" twang to it...

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. There must be a lot of pain in your life.

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  14. Moscovia. Read the SM codes on trees- a stem from old politics. It is also illegal to own a male goat older than 2 years in this town.

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    1. How do you check the age of a male goat? Horn rings?

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    2. their goatestes drop and they "baaaa" gets a little deeper. they also start to drink, spit, and watch football.

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