La Tree Hugger

Trucha! La Tree Hugger has back-up!

La Tree Hugger should be my chola name. I already have a fake chola name given to me by my friends but it doesn’t fit me as well as La Tree Hugger. By the way, until the night I got my fake chola name I didn’t know I had a special talent for anointing other people with well fitting chola names. I’m just as good as the Facebook quiz. You can take me up on it, invite me for a cocktail and I will christen you with a firme moniker in a barrio baptism.

But back to the point of this post, I love trees. And one of my main criticisms of some of my fellow Eastside neighbors is their need to cut down trees. Why all the tree hating vecinos?

Graphic from the excellent book:
The Tree Doctor: A Guide to Tree Care and Maintenance by Daniel Prendergast and Erin Prendergast

Well they no longer have just me to contend with, The City of Los Angeles recently drafted a law allowing city inspectors to issue a $1,000 fine for anyone who illegally removes a street tree. Read more about it here.

I’m not too keen (una palabra muy fuerte) on legislating things into practice. I’d much rather people make decisions based on the common good and through critical thinking skills than on whether or not they will be doing something against the law.

Whenever I’ve seen a neighbor start to cut down a mature tree, I’ve gone over to ask why. (Yes, I can be metiche neighbor) The answers have been interesting. One neighbor told me a tree trimmer came by and told him the tree roots could be damaging his plumbing. The tree was a good ways away from the house and it was a Cypress tree which doesn’t have a large canopy and hence, less spreading roots. I figured the tree trimmer was just drumming up business. I must mention I’m being very generous in extending the term ‘tree trimmer’ to this guy. He was more like a tree butcher. By the way, the gorgeous mature Cypress he hacked in half never recovered from the sever trimming inflicted on it. It saddened me to think this tree lived for many generations and it was I who had to witness it’s demise.

This same neighbor cut down a large Queen Anne Palm tree, a healthy tree that occasionally dropped palm fronds. He said the fronds were too messy. Once the tree was cut down, the upstairs tenants apartment became unshaded and they promptly bought an air conditioner.

In my own family, there are members who love to take whacks at trees. The answers are usually the same: the leaves are too messy, the tree is ugly, rats live in them. I will admit there are very good reasons for removing mature trees but for the most part, I’ve come to see the hatred of trees as a psychological need for some men to conquer nature. I know this is a really broad statement and I say it half in jest but practically speaking it makes no sense to cut down many of the trees I’ve seen felled in my neighborhood. Trees not only shade your house, contribute to the neighborhood ecosystem, filter dirty city air but also add value to the price of your home. So if you know one of those people who don’t give a hoot about the environment, ecology or anyone else besides themselves perhaps the promise of future dollars can get them to put the chainsaw down.


12 thoughts on “La Tree Hugger

  1. tragic. i felt the death of the tree like i would death of a person. sad. i hope i never get to witness the death of a tree. i will heed your advice and use the promise of future dollars as a means to persuade.

  2. (in the voice of Treebeard)”TREEEE! Ents are no trees!” They are shepherds of the forest. Don’t piss them off or they’ll lob boulders at ‘cha, tear your damn down and flood your tower.

  3. Definitely. My parental unit cut down two of our big trees, out of fear of falling branches and dropping leaves on the neighbor’s house. The first excuse was legit, but, the second one? Come on. That’s control freaky.

    Everything got hotter and brighter. Literally “uncool”.

    Don’t make the same mistake – let the trees grow.

  4. My mom had to battle jacuzi vs tree…and the neighbor’s jacuzzi won…then a few years later he got rid of the jacuzzi.

    The tree next to my apartment used to have big scary raccoons living in it. The landlord removed it and now the big scary raccoons go under the apartment.
    But that tree was also poorly maintained. It was a tall evergreen, reverse-raindrop shaped thingy and the top of it looked like a fire hazard because it was drying out. But if someone hat just gotten up there and pruned it from time to time, given it a haircut and some love…

    And don’t forget to give a genetically modified tree a hug if you ever see one. They never chose it, but from seed to sapling they become aware that they must grow up in a world of controversy. And even many tree huggers want to chop them down. So they feel really messed-up inside.

  5. I like trees but theres no doubt that they get out of control at times. The one right in front of my appartment building has lifted the whole fkn sidewalk, making it a hazard to pedestrians.
    One time while driving down broadway by Lincoln High, one of the branches of a palm tree landed on the hood of my car, they were all over the road, very risky business if you ask me.

  6. good reasons for removing mature trees? have yet to hear one, here or anywhere else. but it’s okay. when our buildings are vacant and our streets are empty, the plants will find a way after the humans have choked themselves.

  7. Kudos for making this post! I gave a little spiel for my speech class last year where I elaborated on East LA turning more gray as the years went by and how that might affect the neighborhood especially since we’re surrounded by four different freeways. I remember walking home from elementary school, excited that the trees would give me shade and provide some fresh air. Plus something about the sun poking through the shade put a smile on my face. Good times.

    I’m glad my pops turned our front yard into a mini forest. Now if only the dogs would stop messing with the grass… 🙁

  8. I did my part for triming a tree. For sure a tree that touches powerlines is a danger. Fortunately I used a wooden ladder and worked very carefully, and I am still here.

    My Botanical degree still doesn’t really cover all the various details that trees entail, but for sure when trimming branches off cut as close to a branch as possible.

    As a former plumber, avoid ficus benjamimin the common decorative fig tree (no edible large figs). They grow huge and will ruin clay sewage pipes if within its noon shade radius.

    For triming a sycamore tree has weak branches that will break off during strong winds. If a large branch overhangs a house that is a big danger.

    One vine/bush that is not good for a home’s foundation is a wisteria.

  9. i’ll hug trees with you!

    my grandpa planted many trees at my parent’s home after they moved in more than 30 years ago. the pride of our home is a mature mora tree (mulberry) in the front yard. it’s the best place to spend hot days.

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