(6/13/2013, Los Alamitos) Dave E here. Once again our Highlands Guy finds some things worth changing right outside your front door. . . and mine.
by Highlands Guy: Nope, not a very sexy title and isn’t related to the Cypress truck terminal, dog park, or political transparency.
But I think I can make the case that it does have some impact on quality of life issues and the dots can be connected back to taxes and city priorities.
Let me preface my comments, with my admiration and a big thank you to Public Works for doing more with less than most of our neighboring communities. They are to be applauded.
And under Purpose (12.24.010) of the city code, trees are “deemed important to the general welfare and the benefit of the community.” The City Council has determined that, among other things preserving trees is important for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:
- visual buffers between land uses
- increased property values
- purifying and replenishing oxygen
- controlling soil erosion
- reducing noise
- modifying temperatures via shade
And in support of these objectives, a survey in 2010, revealed that the good citizens of Los Alamitos put “planting more trees” as their #1 choice for spending the (then available) community give-back funds.
All laudable goals, to be sure. But since this stuff is in writing, I thought I would see if the goals are being met and if not, I would like to know if there is an action plan or automatic review mechanism in place to address any shortfall.
Analysis: Too easy. . . .
It was almost too easy to analyze the situation. I just walked out my front door and looked down the street. And it didn’t really take very long to drive through a few other neighborhoods and down our main traffic corridors.
The more I walked and drove around the city, I noticed a whole bunch of parkways, center dividers, and sidewalks that were not in keeping with the city’s, codified, provisions.
Like some other local issues, things look good from afar, but up close and personal, there is still much to be done. I’ll bet the frontage of some homes do, or should, require at least a couple of trees along the parkway, but my focus was homes and areas without any trees what-so-ever.
In no logical order, here’s a little bit of data:
- Just a few houses away, one neighbor had a tree cut down, and we get to look at the protruding stump.
- Within three, long, blocks there were six houses with no trees at all.
- The center divider on Rossmoor Way has been missing a tree for at least 5 years.
- The center divider on Los Al Blvd, in front of the churches is devoid of trees as well as any vegetation that is standard throughout the city.
- Along the very visible 3 blocks from Farquhar to Katella, two trees. Come on guys, this is our face to the world.
- And what happened to the trees on Katella from the mattress store to Island Grill?
- Or across the street in front of Arrowhead?
- Seems that the tree gods also missed a long stretch on Cerritos, west from the public storage business.
Enough already, right? But you get my point.
And just as a side note, how the heck can we implement the grandiose actions of the much ballyhooed General Plan if we can’t even plant a couple of trees?
The City Code on trees:
The city code related to trees is loaded with rules, regulations, and enforcement provisions. For instance:
- You can’t trim, much less remove, a tree without an OK from city hall (12.24.090).
- Any new construction must include tree planting in accordance with the ‘tree master plan’ or occupancy will be denied (121.24.120).
- The city manager can require a restoration fee on anyone illegally topping, pruning, or destroying a tree (12.24.130).
- The city manager can prosecute anyone with a misdemeanor for non-compliance with any of the ‘Tree’ provisions.
The city should either adhere to the codes or change them if not enforceable.
So, after all the city code verbiage touting how important trees are, I think it reasonable to know how the words jibe with reality. It’s really easy to gather the data, just drive around for a ½ hr and count trees. Seems pretty basic, it’s not rocket science.
To each City Council person: The next time you leave your house to go to work take a little closer look and make a mental note of our missing trees.
“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree…
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree”.
-(Alfred) Joyce Kilmer. (1886-1918) American writer, journalist, and leading Roman Catholic lecturer.
…And that’s just the way I see it.
As always, your perspective, diplomatically expressed, is welcome!