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Opinion: In with the bad, out with the good By Lisa Woodruff | Sat, Apr 07 2012 01:30 PM

We’re going backwards.

We are chopping down good trees we paid for and putting back in and adding more destructive ficus. To do this is to start all over again with the same plan that gave us 50 years of broken sidewalks and injuries to people caused by the ficus, plus damages to buildings and countless maintenance expense from these trees.

The ficus is, as every city found out, a bad idea one shouldn’t repeat. The consultant for the city’s Tree Committee’s tree project on Main Street in Seal Beach is not an expert arborist. He is a landscape architect. Further more, he was only given three trees to choose from, that included the Tree Committee’s favored one, a ficus. This is not a good recipe for success.

My husband and I took our own money and paid for an expert arborist, Pieter Severynen to come to the Seal Beach City Council meeting to educate everyone on the scientific facts concerning ficus trees.

The genetics of the ficus is to be an aggressive surface root tree (in fact the tree committee’s choice of ficus is the most aggressive type of ficus). The fact is deep watering or any other technique does not work with a ficus.

All these techniques are what you use with the tree that has the genetic predisposition for their roots to go deep.

Deep watering and other techniques are to facilitate and insure the tree’s natural tendencies. Also it was said, that root cutting doesn’t hurt the ficus. That is false.

Every other year, we cut the ficus roots, it takes the tree 10 years to cover the wound, so the ficus always has open wounds that let in insects, fungus and disease, which can cause the ficus to drop limbs, or die. When you only have one kind of tree, you only have to have one disease to kill them all.

The Tree Committee said ficus trees are good in winds, also false. The ficus are now growing over the building tops and will no longer have a windbreak. Many of the ficus are already compromised, they’re leaning off their root base and are twisted from improper trimming that is still going on. If you see a ficus that’s grown up unmolested in a park, it’s grown straight up from its root base and it’s not twisted. That’s opposite from our mangled, distorted ficus.

There are many trees that are non-destructive and viable for Main Street. But even viable, good trees cannot thrive or they die, because they were improperly planted and cared for – as a few of ours were.

The city is unable to take care of the ficus and surrounding sidewalks they already have because of the ficus roots.

The sidewalks are so severely uneven, people are always tripping and getting hurt. Two days before the council meeting on trees, the fire department had to come to the aid of a lady who tripped over the uneven sidewalk. 

The day after the meeting, the same thing happened and another lady was taken away in an ambulance.

Lisa, from Knock Knock Toys, says kids fall all the time from the uneven paver sidewalks in front of her store.

Some Tree Committee members say, “The trees aren’t the problem, people are, if they fall, they’re drunk or stupid.”

I think most of us would disagree with that and as a family community, we owe the most vulnerable, a safe environment.

Also the pavers and root cutting is not stopping the roots from going under Main Street buildings.

Ficus roots are under the foundation of Angelo’s Italian Deli on Main Street.

The roots have warped the concrete foundation, causing his floor tiles to crack and break. Angelo’s has to replace his tiles every couple years.

His situation is more common than uncommon.

We shouldn’t cut down our good trees, just as that investment is paying off.

We’re not saying to take out the old ficus, just that the city has to properly care for the ficus and sidewalks they already have and pay for injury or damages when they don’t. So far they haven’t done that and they want to add even more ficus.

Every city has or is taking out ficus trees. We’re the only city putting them back in.

That’s actually pretty embarrassing. As mayor Pro Tem, Councilman Gary Miller said, “Seventy five percent of the people who e-mailed or attended the City Council meeting were against chopping down good trees and putting more destructive ficus.”

Unfortunately, it only took a small handful of people who want ficus, no matter what the facts or injury to others, to create a runaway train of a plan that wastes so much of the people’s money and resources.

Lisa Woodruff is a resident of Seal Beach.

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Gary L0s Alamitos Says:

Mon, Jul 09 2012 07:49 AM


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