Tuesday, June 29, 2021

#180 / Pruned? A Sad Story About Trees

I have previously written in this blog of my love for The Trees Of Santa Cruz. As I am walking around the city, I am taking pictures of especially notable specimens. If you click the link above, you can see a small sample of some of the lovely trees I have found as I have taken my walks. 

When I wrote my "Trees of Santa Cruz" blog posting, back on the last day of December, 2020, I noted that the City of Santa Cruz is not as protective of our heritage trees as I think it should be:

Santa Cruz is blessed with some very lovely trees, and from my point of view, the City doesn't do enough to protect and preserve them. Hopefully, the tree photos that are displayed in this blog posting will help inspire local folks to make sure that we honor trees by insisting that property owners and developers preserve and protect the truly extraordinary ones. That is, actually, what the City's "Heritage Tree Ordinance" is supposed to require. But too many loopholes have let too many property owners and developers chop down way too many trees. That is my opinion, at least, and this may be considered a bona fide editorial comment.
I am sorry to report that I can now confirm this judgment from my recent personal experience, since a nearby neighbor has just extirpated a magnificent black walnut tree, and has severely damaged a formerly lovely redwood tree, all for no especially good reason. This is, obviously, my personal view. Not everyone in the neighborhood saw it that way. Lots of people believe that "property owners" should be able to do whatever they want on their own property. Those who want to consider the "legalities" might want to read this book by Christopher D. Stone: Should Trees Have Standing?
In fact, the "legalities" do allow local governments to protect and preserve significant trees located on private property. But, of course, the local governments actually have to do that! As much as I deplore what that neighbor did, the responsibility for what I illustrate below is really on the City of Santa Cruz. The city's Heritage Tree Ordinance is without strong standards, and the City Forester/Arborist is not an advocate for trees, but routinely acts as a facilitator for the desires of the property owner or the developer.
Here is what happened to the redwood tree (see the picture below). NO permit was obtained for what was done to this tree, and no penalty was imposed for what was done to this tree, either:

Then there is that Black Walnut tree, no longer gracing my neighborhood. Here are the before and after pictures: 


There WAS A PERMIT allowing work to be done on the Walnut tree - but there was no permit for what was actually done to it. You can see a copy of the permit below. The permit was to "prune" the tree, which means "to cut off branches from a tree, bush, or plant, especially so that it will grow better in the future.

Extirpate has a different meaning: "to destroy completely: wipe out." That is what happened to this heritage Black Walnut. 
The City Forester/Arborist was informed. 
No penalty was imposed. 

Image Credits:
Gary A. Patton, personal photos

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