Letter: The tree must be removed

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Regarding Ann Christoph’s recent Indy column, “Too Late Smart,” where she went to great lengths to describe the death of an oak tree near her home and her opinion of why it died. She then admitted that she presided over the death of nearly all of the mature trees in her own yard. Quite an admission from a landscape architect. She then went on to talk about her new cause, which is the diseased eucalyptus tree located at the round-a-bout at El Camino Del Mar that the city arborist, after a series of tests, assessed as dangerous due to root damage and liable to fall, causing property damage and, more importantly, threatening human injury.

Then comes Ms. Christoph’s column claiming that maybe the problem was the fault of the owner for putting in artificial turf in a small area of his yard, thereby causing damage to the roots by using Roundup to kill his grass followed by a “blanket’ of herbicides that were used under the artificial turf to inflict further stress on the tree. After consulting with the landscaper who installed the turf, I found none of this true. It turns out that the tree’s roots were damaged when the city dug up and replaced the sidewalk next to the tree, which the opponents of removing the tree are aware of. Here is my issue.

Once the city made the decision a year ago to remove the tree and the harm it might cause, one neighbor has campaigned to stop it and has enlisted a group of people, including Ms. Christoph, along with other members of Village Laguna. In so doing, they have subjected the homeowner, whose house would be in jeopardy should the tree’s roots give out, to a form of harassment.

Obviously, that homeowner, once notified by the city that the tree was diseased and that there was a possibility that the tree might collapse, had to fear for the security of his property and his family’s safety. They have also called into question the city’s very qualified arborist’s decision to have the tree removed.

Five city council meetings and 10 months later, nothing has been resolved. Were this tree to fall and harm or even kill someone, it would be an unforgivable tragedy. The city would be liable. Stop the harassment and take the tree down before it is too late. 

Bob Mister, Laguna Beach

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  1. Thanks to Mr. Mister for his thoughtful comments about tree management. He provides the kind of insights that a good tree manager needs to have but few do.

    There is no doubt that the trees are very aesthetic in form, and it seems a pity to remove such beautiful trees. As one who has been out standing in this field for decades, don’t take my word for it (there are a lot of outstanding old farts like me who put sentiment before the public health and safety–the first duty of government. Taking a “drive” via Google Street View (GSV), three factors stand out without looking inside for internal damage.

    The trees don’t belong there in the first place. The exposed soil available for proper development of a normal root system (Kilmer’s “hungry mouth” that is hard pressed to suckle, imprisoned in concrete and asphalt, and cut off for the temerity of trying to breath free–not to mention hold up the tree). Perhaps largely as a result of this want of “the Earth’s sweet flowing breast” the trees are leaning, waiting for some final push by wind, by rain, by storm, so that the blame for the disaster can be blamed on Mother Nature–or God. Finally, they are quite tall, placing their “sail” of leaves where the wind freely blows even harder and with a longer lever-arm to place disproportional force at the weakest spot along its length (the compromised root system?)–ask a physics teacher.

    But I’m sure the cocksure will step forward to contribute the six or seven-figure award/or settlement that the responsible agency will have to pay–saving the taxpayers from having to fork over an assessment or have to do without some City service to which they would have otherwise been entitled and receive. Well, the buck’s gotta stop somewheres don’t it?

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