I am saddened by the decision made by the Laguna Beach City Council to remove the giant eucalyptus trees in upper Bluebird Canyon. And I am profoundly sorry, but I believe we've not yet done our due diligence.
Nobody on the council ever addressed the option of trimming the trees. I am rather new at local politics, but I must confess that I am surprised that only one of them thought that this was a middle ground where everyone can agree.
I guess I'm equally surprised at the lack of concern when 75-year-old historic trees were held up against the whims of one angry neighbor. No one ever asked why this issue was brought up at this particular time. No one ever asked why these particular five trees were being targeted. No one ever expressed the slightest bit of suspicion regarding Edison's "random" visit to the neighborhood. Please.
And finally, no one ever addressed the glaring fact that once the rest of the neighbors heard about what was about to take place (and mind you, those that had the trees on their property were never even approached), they came out in numbers three times that of the original contingency.
Those of us that live in the shadows of these great trees are, in a word, mystified.
You missed a chance at reason. You missed a chance to say out loud that perhaps you decided too quickly, that perhaps a second look was indeed in order. Even Bank of America has admitted that they had made a mistake.
I ask as a strong supporter of nothing more than reasonable discourse: May we place this back on the agenda before the saws begin to redefine our distinctive neighborhood?
Property owners responsible for trees
Edison should do what is safe and right regarding eucalyptus trees.
One reader suggested that the city maintain control and trim these trees every three years. This should have been and still should be the property owner's responsibility. To let these trees grow out of control (and they grow very fast — trim once a year, minimum) in the first place was unconscionable. To expect the tax payers of this city pay for the maintenance of these trees is also unconscionable. To continue to have these dangerous trees around property and people is unconscionable.
It is not only the trees but the debris from these trees — branches or leaves — that are fire hazards. Are any of these property owners out there cleaning up the debris on a daily basis as it needs to be done?
To hire an arborist to decide what any logical thinking person can deduce by looking at these trees is unconscionable. Are taxpayers going to pay for the arborist?
If people want these trees, then they need to sign waivers saying that they will not sue the city or any other entity if they incur damage or even serious injury or death. Then they must get their neighbors also to agree not to go to the city about issues about these trees and inform their insurance company what they and their neighbors are doing.
Let's see how long they will continue to get insurance coverage. I know several insurance companies have already backed out of Laguna — let's see how many more companies will stay and insure us at an affordable rate or at all. Think about it. Don't get emotional about it, get real about it.
Tree cutting would help firefighters
I was reading the article about the trees in Bluebird Canyon. I am a resident of Laguna and a firefighter. It seems to me that as a city we have bigger fish to fry than a group of fire trees.
As for the fire load of five trees, every bit of reduction in these trees helps. Eucalyptus trees are a non-native tree from Australia and are a big problem for firefighters. These trees have highly flammable bark, leaves and sap. They are known to carry fire in high winds, and burning is intense in areas with these trees.
If you ask me, cut them all down and stop the petty bickering. You can plant other trees and help save the life of the one who comes to help you. Because it is not all about the ones who are trying to get out; sometimes it is about the ones who come to help that risk all.
Road markings for cyclists could save lives
Bike counts on weekends on Coast Highway show a peak of 70 riders per hour, and Laguna Canyon Road has 100 riders per hour, yet there are no provisions in all of Laguna Beach for cyclists. Not a shelter, not a route sign, not a bike lane or sharrow or a decent warning anywhere.
Laguna's hills are a magnet to cyclists just as they are for skateboarders, but speedboarders are now banned from skating on six hilly residential roads by city ordinance because the city feared a speedboarder would be killed if nothing was done. Will the city now ban cycling for the same reason or will "nothing be done"?
Local bike riders are aware of dangers descending Laguna's hills and where to use extra caution on Nyes Place, Summit Drive, Bluebird, Temple Hills and Park Avenue. Riders from out of town are unaware of these hot spots: Mark Leones of Costa Mesa was killed when descending Park Avenue on Oct. 16.
Simple painted road markings cost very little (25 cents per foot in Long Beach), are easy to apply, are quick to identify, and serve as tools to teach drivers and cyclists the imminent dangers on our hilly residential streets. A simple road-grade stencil might have spared Leones his life.
The writer is the chairman of the Task Force for Complete Streets.