Friday, March 11, 2005

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.


At 9:27 AM, Blogger Becky said...

I moved here from Woodland, CA, the 'City of Trees'.
I remember most streets there is a space between the sidewalk and the street where the trees are planted.
When I was a teen we lived on a street that had Plum Cherry trees - the fruit was edible, but did make a mess if you didn't pick them up. Fortunately there were enough kids in our home to keep the entire block clean :)
Some streets had small trees, some had large trees. One tree in particular had the curb built out around the root/base. It was a very large, very old oak, and was in a residential neighborhood that was not high traffic.
Personally, I thought the trees were great - they provided shade in the summer when it was really hot, and shed their leaves during winter to let the sun shine.
People would jockey their vehicles to park in the shade of a tree.
The downside was getting bird poop on the car :D but that did less damage than the heat.
As for blocking drains, it did occasionally. But Woodland has street crews that would pick up leaf piles, and everyone was expected to have their piles ready on pickup day, just off the curb on the street, once a week. Homeowners were charged a small monthly fee whether they used the service or not. If anything besides leaves, lawn clippings, & branches over 1/2 inch are in front of the home - the property owner will pay a fine. These same crews would also clear drains within hours on rainy days, sooner if needed, which usually only happened in fall, when leaves were falling all at once.
But there is a BIG difference between Woodland and Eureka - Eureka is not FLAT land, stopped-up drains can be a much bigger problem here.
OK, I just realized my comment is a bit long - maybe I should start my own blog :D

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Shagman said...

A single large shrub on a street corner can be a major hinderance to visibility. Every single day in Eureka I have to grit my teeth, floor the gas pedal, and pray that I don't get T-boned because I couldn't see down the street at an intersection.

Trees are fine, but I like the encroachment fee.


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