I'm Just Sayin': Developers should observe this holiday's lesson

Today is Thanksgiving and telling our kids about the pilgrims and the Indians (the Native Americans, not the East Indians like my husband) started me thinking about the lessons that we can all learn from the way the Europeans settled the Americas — lessons on how not to move into a new neighborhood.

Last week, we saw yet another example of a newcomer to the Crescenta Valley showing total disregard for the people and things that are already here.

New Star Realty recently purchased the blue Victorian house on Foothill Boulevard across from the Ralph's shopping center — the property that is home to the Moreton Bay fig tree that so much has been written about lately, including here in my own column.

This century-old tree had several major limbs on its west-side hacked off by the developer next door to make way for his over-sized office building, and now the fig tree is under attack by its new owner.

On Friday afternoon, tree trimmers showed up and cut off even more of the once majestic tree, leaving it bleeding white sap. It almost appeared to be crying. Two members of the Crescenta Valley Town Council joined me in coming to its aid when word started to spread that the tree was being chopped down.

Thankfully the crew was stopped by the coming darkness, but said that they would be back on Saturday morning to complete the job.

Earlier in the week, the Town Council had been assured that, while all of the other trees on the property were going to be removed, the fig tree would be spared. We had to wonder if they had been lied to.

Early on Saturday morning, members of the Town Council, Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley, and the Crescenta Valley Community Assn.. arrived in the pouring rain to stop the workmen. They were able to contact the owner, Jenny Nam, and stop the slaughter, at least for the time being. She agreed to meet with community leaders later in the afternoon to try to reach an agreement.

More than 60 "tree huggers", young and old, gathered to show the owner that we value our history here in the Crescenta Valley. This tree has been part of the valley longer than any of us and it deserves to live on long after we're all gone.

It's ironic that the one man who best explained all of this to Nam, Richard Toyon, is himself a Native American. Then again, maybe that's fitting. Who better to know what can be lost by those who don't see the treasures of a place, and don't really care to take the time to learn about them.

I don't know if we changed Nam's heart, or if she just wanted us all to go away, but she did finally agree not to cut any more of the tree. Somehow I don't think that this is the end of the story.

SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at sharonchary@gmail.com.

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