Friday, May 21, 2010

Clumsy Colossuses...

One could argue this title refers to...

street trees in our Woodland Hills neighborhood;

and/or it refers to

equipment used in removing vast portions of their crowns, while allowing their towering trunks and soaring scaffolding to remain,

and it refers to

City of Los Angeles that may no longer deploy such equipment.

Can any of these collosi be blamed? Aren't they just doing their jobs?

And, didn't we choose to live here? But, who could have guessed, say, 30 years ago so many of our beloved trees would become so diseased, would cause us to be in such an untenable position? And, being a representative democracy, aren't we ourselves the City of Los Angeles. So then, how shall we engage to solve our shared problem?

Poor trees, and poor us who live beneath their colossal crowns...

Can this possibly be called ethical tree care?

How are trees to keep recovering from this treatment? Is it not hastening their decline?

In five-foot (or roughly 1.5 meter) parkway easement (or verge) strips in our neighborhood are planted 80-plus-year-old Eucalyptus trees, some of which the trunk diameter exceeds the planting space. Between cycles of topping by City tree crew, some also attain heights exceeding the reach of most City-owned equipment. They are diseased, they are drought-stressed, and I do not believe anyone knowledgeable would argue against the fact they are the wrong tree in the wrong place. Legacy of a scoundrel of a developer of four score and eight years ago, who called himself "Girard." Yet, having been protected from removal and allowed to mature to gargantuan proportions, while at the same time, repeatedly having been subjected to tortuous topping practices, these trees may soon become the sole responsibility of the owner of the adjacent home. Perhaps I should be glad none remain in front of my home. Yet, I am not unaffected by others in the neighborhood in which I live and garden.

Would it not be better to remove the diseased Eucalyptus trees before they fall on us?

And, plant appropriate somewhat smaller trees in their places? If so, how can we afford to do that? What funds might be available to help with a neighborhood tree planting (including removal and replacement)? And, how can we organize to get it done?

At least two appropriate, low-water-using replacement tree species come to mind: Australian Willow -- Geigera parviflora (Evergreen) and Maidenhair Tree -- Ginkgo biloba (Deciduous.) They would only require training when young to encourage desired form. In maturity, they would not require maintenance pruning other than occasionally removing weak or dead wood.

Now, faced with mandate to balance the budget, according to his "Zine Line Newsletter", Council Member Dennis Zine's staff reports City Council has passed a new budget including "reductions in tree trimming" among other service trimming under the new budget. I understand Zine opposed these cuts.

If the City no longer takes the responsibility for maintaining these behemoths, what then will be the consequences of failure? Meaning homeowner failure to perform timely maintenance, or the tree's demise (failure) or limb failure. Are we just to accept the consequences?

Wrote a letter Thursday expressing my concerns and suggestions to Dennis Zine, Council Member, 3rd District, City of Los Angeles, who represents the interests of our community. I am encouraging others in my neighborhood also to send email and letters to Zine's office. We must share our voices to make our local government work.

Council Member Zine's contact information is available on his website linked here.


Barbara E said...

Hi again, Janis. Just wanted to thank you for bringing up so many issues concerning our aging urban forest. Given financial realities it is hard to imagine spending money on trees when schools are closing and other essential services are being cut. Still some failing trees will fall if not removed and people can get hurt. Makes one wonder where all of our tax dollars go - and if I follow this line of thought I may just get political...

(By the way, it worked this time. Last time the word verification box didn't show. Weird!)

Janis said...

Barbara, thank you for posting your comment, and for helping me test the new comment format to be sure it works, now.
Agree there are other priorities -- schools, health care, police and fire, etc. Yet, no matter how strapped governments and other organizations are for general funds, often untapped funds are available for certain types of uses. They go unused for lack of tenacity in cutting through red tape.