A city forester recently fired off a letter to the District Attorney’s Office asking prosecutors to investigate alleged fraud and abuse of public funds associated with a tree planting and trimming contract with West Coast Arborists. The employee said many trees provided by West Coast had significant root problems that can lead to premature death.

So, this week Q-Line asked: 

What do you think of Santa Monica’s tree stock? Have you noticed problems with trees planted in front of your home or apartment?

Here are your responses:

“Yes, as a long-time resident of this beautiful city of San Malicious, I’m now disabled and I noticed I love big, frothy trees. However, there are problems with some of the trees, particularly if one is disabled as I am now. Some of the trees cause problems in the sidewalks. So the other night when I came back with my friend from ‘churchy-poo,’ there’s a big tree in the middle of the sidewalk. So my friend had to push me to the side of the sidewalk. Otherwise, one can get dreadfully impacted. But I love beautiful trees. And no, I’ve not noticed any problems.”

 

“There is a relatively new toddler playground in Reed Park on Seventh Street adjacent to the other, bigger playground that has been there for years. The old playground has some very attractive, large shade trees. The new playground has three twigs, awful looking, with no shade value at all. So the city purchased two large shade umbrellas to take the place of decent-looking trees. When the three twigs were planted, the skinny trunks were bent over and crooked looking. At about two weeks later, I saw what I guess was a city representative talking to one of the arborists, who was still around doing odds and ends of some other plantings. And next thing, the trees were braced and tied up — I guess so it would grow straight. But, somehow, it didn’t improve the overall ugliness one bit. Some years ago, there was a large, lovely, big tree in that spot. But unfortunately, a big wind storm uprooted the tree and they dug it up and took it away. These three twigs are a ghastly replacement. I live across the street, so I’ve been evaluating the whole thing as it goes along, and some of the other trees they put in the park proper were the same type and it took years now for them to get some kind of good tree-looking aspect to them. The overall city appearance tree-wise is not what it should be. They’ve taken a lot of trees out and replaced them with lesser and cheaper-looking trees and so on. That’s if there’s any trees to be put in. It’s mostly concrete and brick and mortar and all that kind of thing now.”

 

“Where do I start? I’ve lived here quite awhile. I’ve had my sidewalks repaired five times because of the trees. This last year absolutely drove me up the tree because I swept four times a day until my chiropractor told me I could not do it anymore. My body was just a mess from scraping up those berries — the berries tracked in the house — had to continually clean the carpet, people brought in things on their feet, I had to get — I don’t know what you call them — but they’re little things that you put outside to brush your feet off on. It was for about three months; it was terrible. And at night, you’d stand outside and you could listen to the rain, and the rain was berries coming down on the cars. It stained the cars. We have white vehicles and it stained the car covers, it stained the paint itself. I can’t begin to tell you the problems they’ve caused us. And then, we call Santa Monica about the tree, and we were told we were lucky to have it by somebody with the very company that is tree-trimming. So yeah, it’s been a real headache and I just can’t understand why we pay good taxes, why we’ve had to wait this long to get it trimmed. It was a simple answer, but they haven’t been trimmed for over four years. I can’t believe the problems we’ve had with these trees.”

 

“First I think the new city forester can write off ever working in this town again. Wait a minute, he already has, by having a work injury. He is now part of the work injury epidemic sweeping this country. Two guys have already retired, maybe just another coincidence. Anyway, I don’t like City Hall’s idea of a tree everywhere. What does that mean? Is it deciduous? Is it slow growing? Does it provide shade? Is it a messy tree with roots and leaves? Or non-functional like the endless palms in this town, a totally useless tree. What does this all mean? You have a new guy who pissed off someone at City Hall, so in retaliation you have an investigation of overzealous planting contracts. The question you should be asking is how many contracts does City Hall allow itself to be unfocused and dealing with such as developers, contractors, train enthusiasts, bicycle elitists architects, and carpet baggers?”

 

“The trees in Santa Monica are beautiful. However, there is a problem I believe in maintenance of the trees when problems exist. On Montana Avenue we have trees that produce large bulbs that fall on the ground. In one area on our street we had a tree that continually dropped these bulbs on the sidewalk. They just make a mess. We called a couple of years ago about this problem and were told it was not time to trim the trees. Even though trimming did help it did not stop the bulbs from falling. They make a real mess, they squish on the ground, they are a safety hazard. They marred the sidewalk so bad that we finally got the city to replace the concrete in front of it, but the bulbs still fall. They’re a mess. Something needs to be done to take care of this problem, it is a safety hazard and something’s wrong with the trees that drop these bulbs constantly and cause a problem.”

 

“The ficus trees in Santa Monica look like lollipops. Some of those in Downtown look like leaning lollipops. It almost brings me to tears to see the coral trees on San Vicente or Olympic Boulevard after pruning by West Coast Arborists. Trees in Santa Monica are simply not allowed to look like trees. The pruning seems to take place just as the weather is warming up, and shade from the trees would be greatly welcomed. The street trees on my block have escaped the tree butchers for several years now, and I hope it is many years before they return.”

 

“If West Coast Arborists was responsible for the destruction of the healthy ficus trees in Downtown Santa Monica (which an independent arborist said were in a healthy condition except for a few trees) and their very poor replacement with the many failing ginkgo trees, which have no leaves for most of the year (as they probably had a surplus), then this abuse of public funds should definitely be investigated.”

 

“As a city we have a wonderful tree stock, only the wrong type of trees. It’s time to bite the bullet and systematically replace all of the invasive ficus trees and plant more sidewalk and street friendly varieties. Stop listening to Jerry Rubin and all of his unrealistic tree huggers. Get real and do what’s right for the rest of the citizens!”