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SLO is losing trees to development


Next time you're up on north Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo, I'd like to suggest that you take a little field trip.

Take a gander at the north side of the 1400 block, the gorgeous, hillside former home of Central Coast Brewing and Cambria Bikes.

Enjoy the view of the 54 mature, healthy trees on that hillside and know that, very soon, they will all be slaughtered, sacrificed to a development that just wouldn't "pencil out," don't you know, if the tree-slaughterers had to work around those pesky trees.

Oh, sure, the developers (who once again hoodwinked our hapless City Council by including a small amount of "affordable" housing) will plant "replacement" trees.

In case you're wondering what a "replacement" tree looks like in our former "tree city," head to the next block up and observe a "replacement" tree in front of 1531 Monterey. That "tree" (read: twig) has been there for several years and yet scarcely reaches my waist.

For further evidence, next time you're out at Home Depot, look around at the trees in their parking lot. Those trees were planted in 1979—45 years ago—yet few of them provide enough shade for even one vehicle, not to mention their lack of habitat.

Why? Because San Luis Obispo does absolutely no follow-up on the trees it orders to be planted in the city. If you tour shopping center after shopping center, you'll notice that most of the trees are dead or dying. The city makes no effort whatsoever to prevent such neglect: There's no follow-up and no penalty for planting a tree, then letting it die.

And the problem will only get worse because our tree committee rubber-stamped its own demise, gutting the tree ordinance and reducing the committee to a toothless "advisory" role.

Add to the current slaughter the two beautiful ficus trees just destroyed in front of Smith Volvo and at the corner across Toro Street, where another mega-development just wouldn't "pencil" if the tree remained. And how do you like the gorgeous tree-lined streets in the ongoing Dalidio development? Not!

Now, I realize that time marches on and the state has ordered each city to build tons of housing. But when a city like ours is so shortsighted that it's willing to help oversee the destruction of us all, in service of projects that just won't "pencil" unless trees are slaughtered, then we're all doomed, are we not? We're just lounging in deck chairs on the Titanic, quibbling about what year the Earth will become uninhabitable.

Finally, how about this irony? The very pencils that developers use to convince the city that their project won't "pencil" unless 54 beautiful trees are destroyed, are made from trees.

Will Powers

San Luis Obispo

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