Did Mr. Martin (Estero Bay News 4/8/21) miss the point of Ms. Winholtz’s letter regarding the City’s poor stewardship of our urban forest?
City residents, in 1989, sought to enhance our urban forest by becoming a Tree City, USA, a designation that has specific requirements for a tree ordinance, i.e. penalties for unpermitted removal of trees, valid reasons needed for removal and a program for replacement and new planting.
As a Tree City, Morro Bay also earned related status as a bird sanctuary.
The recent spate of unapproved tree removals – 50 trees cut down when only 25 were approved for the new sewer pipes entrenchment, 12 trees cut and poisoned at Bayshore Bluffs Park, other trees dubiously approved for cutting. The City has yet to pursue accountability and penalties per the law for illegal cutting.
There seems to be a lack of City oversight regarding the tree ordinance at a time when other municipalities are planting trees as a means of mitigating the increasing temperatures and pollutants of climate change.
Regarding the removal of 15 trees on Cerrito Place, “poor health’’ was the arborists’ language not ‘’severe damage’’ as stated by Mr. Martin. The five thirty-year-old trees in the Right of Way were planted before the 2002 ordinance, so cannot have been “planted illegally.” It is worth noting, the City does not have a penalty for planting a tree. It isn’t fair to blame or name call the messenger for delivering a factual message that is uncomfortable to hear.
An interesting March 2020 commentary in the Tribune cited an article from Science Magazine: “California’s urban canopy cover per capita is the lowest in the United States.’’We must do better to protect and enhance our urban forest that provides habitat for wildlife and natural beauty for our wellbeing.