NO on Sidewalk Trees
I found a green door hanger on my front door yesterday afternoon. It was from the Keep Eureka Beautiful (KEB) folks. Local busy- body and past candidate for Eureka City Council, Ron Kuhnel, was listed as the contact. They were offering to tear up squares of my sidewalk and plant trees in them, all for the low price of $75.00 each.
I'm sure they mean well, but this is a dumb idea for a number of reasons. There's no shortage of either trees or shade in Eureka but more trees, especially in the sidewalks, will cause problems- limited visibility, being one.
That's considered an advantage by the KEB folks because trees along streets slow traffic down. Why is that? Because trees reduce visibility so most people slow down because they can't see as well. But that also increases the chance of a child or pet not being seen when they suddenly appear from behind a tree. I suspect street trees could make streets more dangerous because of the drivers who speed regardless of conditions.
Limited visibility also makes it easier for thieves and other criminal types to go about their business undetected. Security experts always recommend less trees and shrubbery around a home, not more.
Trees make messes. One thing people who plant trees discover is they can be a hassle just because of the mess they make. All trees, whether deciduous or evergreen, shed leaves. Some shed leaves all year long. This ends up costing everyone for clean up and unplugging storm drains.
I recall driving down I Street last year when leaves were dropping. Between 5th and 6th Streets on the west side there's a number of sidewalk trees in front of businesses. Leaves were covering the sidewalk. That really looked the mess. I'm not one normally bothered by the "wild" look of leaves on the ground but who's gonna clean that up?
I know in my business Fall leaves can be a real headache. Try mowing a lawn with a 6" layer of leaves over it and see how fun that is. Sometimes there's more leaves than can be hauled off in one truck load. Often the city ends up footing the bill for removal as leaves end up out in the street.
Leaves can also be a safety hazard. I've slipped on piles of leaves before. A few years ago, the leaves from our chestnut tree piled up behind the tires of my truck after it rained. When I returned home the leaves were still there. As I slowed down and stopped, the wheels stopped on the leaves and the truck skidded about 3 feet. If the wife's car was still parked where it normally was I would have hit it.
What about the sidewalks themselves? There's three properties (one being the Arkley's) with fairly recently installed sidewalk trees within half a block of my house. I'm not impressed with any of them. I wouldn't go so far to call them ugly, but I cringe every time I see them. I can't help but think what a pain it would be to park my car or have to unload large items from a truck next to those trees.
I have yet to see one property with street trees that wouldn't be fine or even better off without them.
Sidewalk trees are not a good idea. If someone wants to go ahead and plant trees in their sidewalk, then have at it. I certainly won't. We have enough trouble with the trees we already have.
Let's hope few people fall for this idea or that those who do won't be able to afford the $75.00 per tree. Let's not go out of our way to create problems that needn't be.