Saturday, March 16, 2013

Eureka's Stupid Street Tree Program

It's no secret I think Eureka's Street Tree Program is misguided, at best, and will cause problems more than anything else. I was furious when I'd heard my in- laws across the street decided to fall for it. They're having trees planted on both sides of their house.

I was also surprised this morning to see two City of Eureka trucks with what I would assume are city workers tearing up the pavement to plant the trees. I was under the impression this was mostly a private and volunteer effort, albeit encouraged and subsidized by the city.

Nope. We're actually using tax money to create problems that will cost more tax money in the years to come, never mind the traffic accidents and crime that- despite the tree supporters claims- are sure to result.

Funny thing about the example here is Marc asked me some months ago what it would take to cut back those huge rhododendrons blocking the view of their front windows. Then he goes ahead and puts trees on the sidewalk to further block the view!

We've already had our fair share of collisions here. You can bet there will be a few more because the trees on E Street will obscure the view to the north even more.

The only fun thing in this particular case is those trees will eventually block the pedestrian crossing sign on the corner. You can be sure I'll enjoy calling the city and asking that the sign be removed since the trees are blocking it anyway. Ironic that what some deem "traffic calming measures" are blocking traffic warning signs, huh?


At 6:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The neat things about trees is that that grow, and in an advantageous direction -- up! Your neighbor's precious view of your house, and that magnificent asphalt road, won't be blocked forever. Plus, he'll be adding to the value of his house, if he keeps them properly pruned.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

...if he keeps them properly pruned..

I can almost guarantee you he won't.

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he can't keep a couple trees pruned, I can almost guarantee the rest of his house and yard will be in similar disrepair, and trees will be the least of your worries having this guy across the street from you.

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at the large tree species that have been planted DIRECTLY UNDER THE OVERHEAD UTILITY LINES on Wabash Avenue. Somebody is going to be pruning them for the next half-century. They will be both expensive and mutilated. Talk about building in future overhead problems...both literally and figuratively!

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Travis said...

I go around and around this issue when building houses people forget how big trees will grow people love to build their houses and decks around trees not realizing that as the root system Matures it'll start buckling asphalt and shifting foundations not to mention reduce visibility but some people like that but with the buget wose that are County already faces I can't believe that they would allocate money to something like this how about we concentrate on fixing uppe our crumbling infrastructure

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Somebody is going to be pruning them for the next half-century..

Yep, and it will likely end up being the city paying some tree company to do it at a hefty price.

Of course, there's also the leaf problem. All trees drop their leaves at some point in time. Those help clog up the storm drains. They can also be a safety hazard.

Even without that the street sweeper will be picking them up and having to pay to dispose of them as trash, not green waste. Those leaves will be mixed with street trash so they'll have to be dumped as garbage- quite a bit more expensive than green waste. Again, another city expense.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:03, a half-century? No. Those utility lines will not be here 50 years from now. They will be underground. This is the fate of all lines on utility poles in residential areas. Nobody is in a rush to spend that money, but eventually that road will be replaced, certainly within 50 years, and when it happens, underground it will all go. Bank on it.

Fred, your argument can be summed up as, "This is why we can't have nice things." You and my grandmother should get together.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why, with a conservative city council, is the city supporting the tree program? Could it be there are material benefits that even conservatives must acknowledge? Nahhhhhh, couldn't be. If Fred is correct, I look forward to reading about the tree program's demise in the next, oh, 60 or 90 days. Surely they will dispatch with this nefarious, community-harming program in quick order. Surely they will. Keep us posted Fred.

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelieveable! Just what that corner doesn't need. I pull up tdo that corner several times a dayand it hard enough to see around cars parked to my right, now,trees to my left. YUK! I didn't vote for them the first time they came around.


At 1:32 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

If Fred is correct, I look forward to reading about the tree program's demise in the next, oh, 60 or 90 days..

Not gonna happen. City councils like to do things and spend money. That's why they go for this feel- good stuff. They rarely think of the unintended consequences.'s hard enough to see around cars parked to my right, now,trees to my left..

I know. Funny thing is, proponents use "traffic calming" as an excuse to plant the trees. They complain about drivers in Eureka and unsafe conditions on the streets, then make it much worse by planting trees next to the street.

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Update: It gets even worse. Marc Matteoli just told me the stupid monkey- see- monkey- do fs that live on the corner across from him are thinking of doing the same thing to their sidewalk.

As 12:38 noted, this is a bad corner already. That section, in particular, usually has cars parked bumper to bumper because of the druggie house. It's tough enough already to see if it's safe to pull out there. Trees will make it a potential disaster.

Marc Matteoli- self described conservative- thinks that's just great.

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have any data showing that accident rates in cities with more trees are higher than accident rates in cities with fewer trees? Or are you just assuming that's the case?

The reason I ask is that I lived in a city on the East Coast that has a huge number of trees, and I don't recall ever having any problems with visibility.

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

Good post.

1) Fred, the street sweepers won't get much leaves from trees when the sweeper must swerve around parked cars to not street sweep....funny how our tax dollars get spent on something doing nothing in a "spotted pattern". Eureka needs a street sweep program where ALL VEHICLES park only on one side of the sreet during a certain time range on a certain day each week, every two weeks or monthly. Then, tax dollars will be wisely spent and not pissed down the toilet.

2) Tax dollars going to a tree program, let's look at it this way:How many trees have city workers cut down for whatever reasons and how much has those trees being cut taken away from the "biodiversity of life" within city limits?

Planting trees is a great idea, but "correctly choosing from options of trees" is the "hit and miss" portion of the idea. Upthread a poster explained about power lines above and a tree that grows too high must get "hacked". It is true that planting "certain trees based upon growth rates and overall height is paramount to making a great idea "work".

Of course, blocking views of important infrastructure requirements is bad (like legitimate safety signs - although, like meters, signs have an adjustment range for height specifications)

Hopefully, the property owners continue to work with the city endorsement program, but if tax dollars are being used (install) instead of "private donations", then that is a problem. Obviously, the city inherits maintenance issues (like leaves blowing onto roads sidewalks) and residents inherit leaves accumulating on property, branches, etc, the community inherits more birds and bird perching areas, more oxygen creation, senses of smell and beautification of neighborhoods and individual lots, increased pride, etc....and of course, the occasional bad neighbor who does not maintain a thing, but don't tell the birds that. - HOJ

At 7:45 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Do you have any data showing that accident rates in cities with more trees are higher than accident rates in cities with fewer trees?.

No data, just common sense. Of course, proponents of the tree program claims it slows traffic.

But why does it slow traffic? It's because the view is more limited so people slow down to compensate.

Limiting the view from vehicles is especially problematic on intersections such as ours that has its occasional flurries of collisions. Ironically, the city council and others are recommending making traffic lights bigger on some streets to increase their visibility. Meanwhile, they're limiting views on streets across the city.

There's also the increased opportunity for crime. Proponents claimed in a recent news article it reduces crime, which is nonsense. They're obviously manipulating statistics.

Criminals prefer places they can do their thing unobserved. That's why our cars got broken into fairly often when we parked them on the Trinity Street side of our house where we have a lot of foliage that blocks what little street lighting we have. More trees blocking the view of a house means a better opportunity for thieves to work.

In that regard, I did notice an upside to the Matteoli's planting yesterday:

Visitors to the druggie house often park next to the Matteoli's when there's not enough room on the other side of the street. Yesterday a car full of rough looking fellows, and one small child pulled up next to the Matteoli's and started working on their car, among other things.

Eventually, a short scuffle broke out between the driver of the car and a girl from the druggie house. I realized then that with the five trees they're going to plant on that side of the street we won't have to watch the goings on from the druggie house crowd parked next to the Matteoli's. The trees should block them from our view pretty well, eventually.

That's a good thing for us. Probably not so good for the Matteolis. Poetic justice, I suppose.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Jeff wrote, Planting trees is a great idea,....

Whatever floats one's boat, but we have no shortage of trees in either Eureka or the county.

I can see it somewhere like Sacramento where it gets real hot. They have a city ordinance there that requires each residential lot to have at least one shade tree. I have no problem with that.

If anything, up here we don't get enough sun. There's no reason for adding more trees to block what sun we do get. If someone wants to plant a tree, then they can go ahead and do so at their own expense (and liability). The city shouldn't subsidize or encourage it.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Craig said...

Anybody that is concerned about trees being planted on the sidewalk and blocking their view of on coming traffic, needs to get out look at the trees that are out there. Everyone that I have so far observed in my travels around Eureka, all the branches below the 8 foot mark have been removed, and if there are any that have branches lower than that I have not as of yet seen them.
If one is concerned about low flying aircraft flying down the streets of Eureka, then they might have a valid grievance about trees being planted on the sidewalk, otherwise I definitely notice the difference in the aesthetics that the trees bring when going down the streets that they are planted on.

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. If they were proposing to plant solid hedges between the sidewalk and the curb, then yes, I can see how it would be a visibility problem. But as has been pointed out above, trees grow up, and it's not really a problem to cut off the lower limbs so that there is plenty of visibility.

At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, if you could show me that cities that have a lot of trees between the sidewalk and the curb have more traffic accidents than cities that don't, then I'd take your concern a lot more seriously.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

It would be difficult to come up with the evidence either you or I want. Traffic in cities has more variables than just trees. I'm going by common sense. You're going by wishful thinking.

The bottom line is, you don't care about the current, or future, costs to this and are willing to toss common sense aside in regards planting trees.

That is one thing where conservatives and liberals share a common trait: Lack of common sense. You could even include fiscal responsibility as both places I've dealt with street trees have had them placed there by self described conservatives. One of whom, when I asked him about it commented, government shouldn't be involved in planting any trees. Yet he went ahead and did it, anyway.

At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling your opinion "common sense" and my opinion "wishful thinking" isn't really saying anything other than you think you're right and that I'm wrong. And we already know that you think that.

Again, I just haven't experienced or observed any problems with street trees causing visibility problems, so the basis for your prediction that they will cause more accidents due to visibility problems just doesn't ring true to me. In the absence of some more compelling argument, your prediction seems like basically just a guess.

To my mind, your guess doesn't trump my personal experience and observation. However, I'm well aware that my personal experience and observation is, by definition, anecdotal, so I'd certainly be open to the idea that a systematic study might show that my personal experience and observation has been atypical. Which is why I asked whether you have any evidence to back up your contention. Apparently you don't. So there we are.

At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good cuz you can stuff your Taliban Humvee under da tree to hide from the drone strike. Smart tinkin'.

At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

One tree that caused a site visibility triangle obstruction was located at the corner of 5th and (K?)(the county graveled parking lot at the courthouse).

While trying to cross 5th Street, the branches below 6 feet in height limited by view for oncoming traffic. So, went into clerk of the Board, left a message about view problems and by the next week, limbing had been done on the lower 6 feet, problem solved.

No one says that trees won't cause problems; rather, it is a matter of what type of problems as presented by the type of tree planted AND how will the problem be solved.

Good thing pruning a limb is farely a simple task, as compared to planting the wrong type of tree.

Redwoods screw-up house foundations and driveways; other trees shed to many leaves, trees are not all evergreen; not all trees grow the same height; locating a tree to be planted can include the conceptual thoughts of what is best for sunshine, shading, wind and noise blocking, etc....just not on the taxpayers' dime for illegitimate reasons. Street sweeping of leaves is very minimal, even if there were a city ordinance that allowed for "full street sweeping".


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