Yikes. The OC Grand Jury released a report criticizing Laguna Beach as one of eight cities with a low number of publicly owned street trees. Laguna ranked third from the bottom, just shading out Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and Outback, Australia.
The Grand Jury reported that Laguna Beach has 12 street trees for every 100 residents. Worse yet, Laguna Beach was ranked in the bottom half of cities, spending a paltry 0.52 of its operating budget on trees. A city worker, who remained anonymous by dressing like a tree, said, “Do you see any money on me? No. Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
Laguna’s view proponents were delighted by the report. “Great news,” declared an anti-tree hugger with intimacy problems. “I hope next year there are no street trees,” he yelled over his shoulder, as he hurried off late for his skin doctor appointment.
Ironically, the June 20 Grand Jury report titled “Orange County’s Urban Forest,” was printed on paper solely harvested from Laguna Beach trees. Another city worker, who remained anonymous by dressing like a dog peeing on the first city worker dressed as a tree, growled, “Totally unfair. It’s an insult on injury to take away our natural bathroom areas and then use them to write on. It’s tawdry bathroom humor. Something you’d expect from cats, not a Grand Jury of people.”
The report defends the many economic, public health and environmental benefits of cities investing in the urban forest. Trees provide shade, driving down energy costs associated with air conditioning. Also, trees help out with water conservation by slowing down the evaporation process. But in spite of these benefits, thoughtless teenagers continue to carve hearts on their trunks declaring eternal love for one another. An earlier Grand Jury report found 100 percent of these pronouncements end badly by the teenager falling for another carving on a different tree.
Despite the criticism directed at Laguna Beach, the Grand Jury concedes there are circumstances outside their control. Climate change has wreaked havoc on the urban forest by increasing invasive pests like the shot hole borer…” Rock-a-bye bug in the tree top, when the wind blows, the larva will rock, when the bough breaks, the larva will fall, down will come bug, larva and boughs.”
Laguna officials disagree with the Grand Jury in general. “It is not an impartial 12-member panel of our peers. Laguna has no peers. We’re the greatest. Just ask any of the 6.6 million sun-baked tourists who visit.”
Crantz tells the Indy that he dressed as a tree for a school play, once. Just once. At the end of opening night, he got a standing ovation. He took a bow. Toppled over. That audience remembers that a tree does make a sound when it falls.