Tree law action will wait until spring

November 28, 2001 12:00 am

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Crescent City wont revisit discussion of a new tree ordinance until next spring, the City Council decided Monday.

We want them (the staff) to do a little more research on it and give the public a chance to get involved, said Mayor Herb Kolodner. But the staff will have to prioritize this along with several other projects where work needs to be done.

At its Monday workshop on amending Crescent Citys tree ordinance, council members shared their views on the subject, but said they wished more members of the public were in attendance.

I was very disappointed in the public participation, said Councilmember Jack Burlake. We were hoping the people in this city would care enough to show up and give their input to this subject, which is very important to the overall beautification of Crescent City.

Burlake said he expected real estate agents and business owners to attend the workshop since the shaping of the ordinance would probably affect their businesses the most. Kolodner said only about four people were in the audience.

It was unfortunate we had very few people there from the citizenry, Kolodner said. We wanted to glean from the public their thoughts and desires on this part of our beautification project for the city.

In spite of this, said Kolodner, the discussion was lively and long and the groundwork was laid down to be built upon.

Crescent Citys current tree ordinance is limited to requiring planned businesses with parking lots of more than five spaces to include trees in their landscape plans. Some discussion has been to require smaller businesses to implement this plan as well, but more so the topic has been the quality and type of trees being planted.

The main debate centered on, and it has from the very beginning, has been the size of the trees, Kolodner said. But (we also) discussed what will grow in Crescent City what will blend in and add to the appeal of the entire city.

Kolodner said tree size was a particular concern because the climate and sometimes-severe weather can kill off new trees of insufficient size.

Little 3-foot trees take a long time to mature, assuming they even survive, said Kolodner. We felt larger trees, say 6-feet tall, preferably one-to-two inches in diameter at about two feet up from the base, would have a better chance at survival.

The council members agreed some trees in the city be designated as protected trees, an example being the Monterey cyprus in front of the library. These trees may become protected from being disturbed or cut down in the future, unless they are dying or pose a health hazard, at which time they would be required to be replaced with a similar tree nearby.

I think the workshop went in a positive direction, said Councilmember Glenn Gary. One important point was learning how the maintenance of the trees would be taken care of. I was very disappointed when I heard there were only two maintenance workers available. If we are going to increase the beauty of the area, its the citys responsibility to hire more.

Councilmember C. Ray Smith said three more groundskeepers would probably be needed to manage the planting of new trees.

The two people we have now are doing a great job, but its too much for two people, said Smith. But most importantly is we need a maintenance program. You cant just plant a tree and go off and leave it. If you do it wont grow, or it will die, or it will be blown over by the wind. You have to maintain them.

One staff recommendation was that the city hire a full-time landscape architect. Gary and Burlake said the council was not enthusiastic about the suggestion.

There were various reactions to that. If we have a policy in place there would not be as great a need especially someone who may not be familiar with Crescent City, said Burlake. We should be looking more for an advisor rather than a hired staff member.

Gary said one consensus arrived at among the councilmembers was the city should avoid implementing any new city ordinances that would be imposing on residential property owners.

I think that would be a bad idea, said Gary. Thats one point I spoke out on, that we shouldnt be telling folks what they need to do on their own property in regard to private homes. In no shape or form should we be dictating what people should do on their own property.