As policies stands, UFAC accepts public input, but only when notice about a tree has been “leaked” by a concerned neighbor, found out some way by accident, or otherwise haphazardly made public knowledge. If the Tree Protection Ordinance is to work, then there needs to be website information about permit requests as well as advanced notice posted near the tree so that everyone knows about plans to remove that tree, why the removal is thought necessary, and by whom. Sometimes, when a shop owner or the City or whomever decides to remove a tree due to some problem, that problem can be solved or mitigated creatively without cutting down the tree. More ideas can be explored if more citizens are allowed to suggest alternatives.
6. Do you think the Master Street Tree Plan (MRST) needs to be updated? [
YES ] If so, what would you change?
Identifying street tree species for parkways and streets is fine and often leads to attractive “themed” appearance; however, rigidly adhering to old plans, such as the Pasadena Playhouse District’s outdated, 15 year old “streetscape” plan that removed existing big trees (80 year old Indian Laurel Figs) to plant tiny gingkos and Mexican fan palms (now classified as an invasive species) is not acceptable. So-called “streetscape” tree plans should be revisited every 5 years and remain flexible enough to NOT require the removal of grand old trees without public survey or input. Even if a particular tree species was planted long ago and is no longer considered optimal for street use, the value of a large, mature tree is far greater than the “twig” saplings that replace them. Also, unnecessary removal of a large, old tree is very costly for the City. Never forget that mature trees are living things with many benefits. They are not merely an unfashionable park bench or trash can that can simply be discarded and replaced.
7. In your neighborhood, are there any areas where more trees should be planted? (Name the streets or areas)
The dwindling of trees in parking lots is a blight in the City. When I was a child, parking lots had strips of soil between the rows of parking spaces that contained narrow hedges, flowering shrubs, and trees were interspersed so that their canopies provided contiguous, very welcome shade over parked cars along the strip on hot days, as well as nest sites for small birds and welcome beauty. These days, shoppers who come to spend money in the City are lucky if a tiny crepe myrtle or some tiny sapling tree gets planted in a parking lot, usually in a barren, minuscule tree well surrounded by cement or baking asphalt. Notice how we all try to get the one or two parking spaces under the pathetic shade provided the handful of small trees in most current parking lots.
Developers no longer wish to pay for the care of even drought-resistant trees on their commercial properties. Trees and flowers may take up few parking spaces, after all! And need water. And their leaves, flowers, fronds, cones and acorns must be swept up. Even when there are trees in a parking lot, there are too few of them and the species selected are invariably small in size. Worse, tree care in parking lots usually consists of periodic “lollipop” pruning of branches so the tree casts no shade. For example, there used to be beautiful, drought-resistant, yellow flowering palo verde trees in the open air shopping center at 3415 East Foothill Blvd (for Bed Bath & Beyond; Ross; Best Buy; PetSmart, etc.). Those palo verdes grew high, with lovely green bark, and wide, open shade canopies that shoppers could park under… That is, until an inept “tree service” began chopping off all their sturdy limbs, over and over again, until the poor “poodle-ized” trees developed giant balls of woody scar tissue on the ends of all their main branches. A year or so later, all those expensive, lovely desert trees were chopped down and replaced with what appear to be tiny camphor trees that will not offer significant shade to much of the sun-baked lot for many years to come.
Pasadena should require developers to plant more trees in hot, asphalt parking lots; trees that will reduce heat-island effect, provide shade for parking spaces, and attract shoppers. Such trees should be native species that require little water and care. Larger trees should be planted, not just small “crap myrtles” (as many call them). The pruning of parking lot trees should be supervised by the City to assure the health of such trees by preventing “hack” maintenance. Landlords waste a phenomenal amount of money on men with chainsaws and blowers instead of paying for qualified arborist services.
9. What are you willing to support to ensure Pasadena’s trees are maintained and protected for future generations? (Check all that apply)
Pasadena needs immediate emergency funding to address emergent, deadly foreign diseases that are infesting and killing numerous city and private trees. For example, the devastating Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (a tiny beetle that introduces fungal disease into a tree’s vascular system) is infesting and killing many tree species in the City, yet very little has been done to identify all the affected trees or to assist private landowners with the treatment of heritage oaks, for example, or the removal of dangerous trees attacked by PSHB. Worse, the City has no policy nor enforcement effort to stop private owners and tree services from removing contagious trees and spreading the PSHB through infested wood dumped on site, at landfills, or cut and transported elsewhere for firewood. Failing to properly chip and “solarize” (heat under plastic) downed trees and firewood cut from “sick” trees is rapidly spreading the fungi introduced by the borer. Tree services also spread the deadly, insect-borne fungi by failing to sterilize their blades and other tools and the climbing spikes some “tree trimmers” still use.
Pasadena and the surrounding mountains *may* lose as much as 30% of its trees just to PSHB if nothing is done swiftly… and this does not take other serious tree diseases into consideration, such as the Foamy Canker in so many old, native oaks! Pasadena needs to act now, though it may already be too late, to fund experts to investigate PSHB and other botanical diseases, to explore treating affected trees, to educate tree owners, and to require (and enforce) compliance by tree owners and all tree services with regulations that will limit, or at least slow, the spread of deadly tree infestations. Private landowners who want to help often cannot afford the thousands of dollars it takes to remove an infested tree and treat its wood. Many tree services know about PSHB, but they refuse to “waste” time cleaning their equipment or to take the time and money necessary to properly handle infested wood.
The City itself, along with L. A. County, has spread PSHB and other tree diseases by dumping infested trees blown over in wind storms in City County yards, then allowing anyone to cut firewood from the pile of contagious trees. The borers radiated out from such mass “tree dumps” into surrounding neighborhoods and wild areas where now old native oaks, sycamores, alders and so many other trees are sick and dying in large numbers. Please take action! How can Pasadena be a Tree City if it fails to act and lets so many of its large, old trees die of invasive disease?
Secondly, Pasadena needs to do something about the inadequate size (and sometimes the total lack) of tree wells around the trunks of its unirrigated street trees. Trees need water to survive. Rain falls from a tree’s leaves out to the edge of its canopy (drip line). Many of Pasadena’s old trees are in asphalt or cement right up to their trunks. In some places, old trees grow buttress roots right over the concrete! Frequently, there are complaints about trees lifting sidewalks and invading leaking pipes and sewers (if the pipes were not leaking, the tree would not sense water, of course). Roots often lift sidewalks and invade pipes in a desperate search for needed water. The tiny tree wells (squares of soil) around street tree trunks… often covered with obstructive, decorative metal covers… are insufficient to keep trees healthy. They promote roots that buckle sidewalks. Next thing you know, the City or property owner wants to remove the tree due to “sidewalk hazard.”
Over time, Pasadena needs to gradually revise its sidewalks to remove the cement sections around trees so that street trees can capture more water and enable root systems to “breathe.” The native oak plantings near City Hall where there is a linear strip of decomposed granite soil around the trees between parking spaces and the sidewalk is a much better way to keep street trees healthy! Trees cost money. Even removal of trees killed due to insufficient water or disease requires a great deal of money to remove. It makes economic sense for Pasadena to design ways to improve tree wells and reduce the extent of concrete alongside pedestrian walkways. Street trees are exposed to car exhaust, polluting dust, hot sun with little rain. At the least, Pasadena should expand current tree wells so that the area’s limited rainfall can help keep valuable trees alive.
11. Please provide any additional comments and suggestions for tree planting and care in the City of Pasadena.
Old, mature trees take a lifetime to grow. Too often such venerable trees are capriciously removed by business owners who don’t want to pick up a broom to sweep leaves or jacaranda flower petals… or who don’t want their signs blocked (such as the owner of Vromans!)… or who have leaky old sewer connections that they don’t want to fix, so they complain about invading tree roots “forcing” them to repair their sewer pipes (such as the owner of Vromans!)… etc. When a century old tree is cut down, there needs to be very good reason and public support for such action, because children will be born and grow old before another mature tree ever graces that site again. Tiny saplings and little potted trees are not sufficient compensation for what is chopped down.
The multiple benefits of trees to the City needs to be better acknowledged. Mature trees are one answer to global warming. Large trees provide urban habitat for small wildlife, such as birds and butterflies. Their majesty and beauty increases property values and improves the health of Pasadena residents and visitors. As such, trees need to be given higher priority and better protection than they are currently given. Thank you for this opportunity to comment.