Want A Tree Lined City?
I've been wondering about this idea being proposed by some of making an effort by the City of Eureka to accelerate the planting of street trees in town? It's been going on for some time but has just recently been making news again. The Eureka Reporter just ran this editorial on the subject.
I realize trees can be nice things to have around and provide a number of benefits to the community but I wonder if the city is really wise to encourage us to become a "tree lined city"? Trees can cause problems as well as benefits:
Trees, whether decidous or evergreen, shed leaves or needles, either throughout the year, or all at once. This can create a real mess and, during the rainy season, jams up the gutters causing flooding. Do we want to encourage that? We already have street crews going around unplugging the street drains when it's raining. How much is this going to cost us in road maintenance cost in the future with a whole lot more trees to deal with?
Many trees damage streets and sidewalks, eventually. How much will this end up costing landowners and taxpayers in the long run as sidewalks need to be replaced from the roots heaving up or splitting the cement? That's already a problem in some areas.
Eventually larger trees interfere with power and phone lines and regular maintenance is needed to keep the lines unobstructed. Is everyone aware they'll either have to do the pruning themselves or pay someone else to do it? Is the City gonna have to hire extra personnel for tree maintenance for trees on City property, or pay increasing mega bucks to the tree companies to do the work in the future? I don't know that we need to encourage massive plantings of trees along Eureka's streets.
All that said, I'm a Libertarian and would be the last to suggest someone not be able to plant a tree on their own property. Proponents properly point out that it makes it difficult for someone to plant a tree on the sidewalk in front of their house when they must pay the City a $50.00 encroachment fee, among other things, for each tree planted. I sympathize with that if only because property owners are generally responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalks surrounding their property, anyway, as I was made aware of when the City directed me to fix a bad slab on my sidewalk or they'd do the job and charge me accordingly. Seems odd that you're responsible for your sidewalk but have to get permission and pay a fee for altering it.
I suggest the City remove the encroachment fee. Other than that the City shouldn't encourage or discourage the growing of more trees. If someone wants to plant a tree, they can plant a tree, as long as it doesn't impair traffic or create some public nuisance. As far as City owned property, I think we need to make sure we don't go overboard on this. I've seen some tree additions that are an improvement to existing properties, at least for now. We need to make sure we don't set ourselves for high maintenance costs for the future, though.