of Introduction from Friends of El Cerrito Trees, presented at El Cerrito
City Council Meeting, April 9, 2002
Dear El Cerrito
City Council, City Manager, and Parks and City Maintenance managers:
are pleased to announce that the Friends of El Cerrito Trees has been
established in El Cerrito, as a community association in partnership
with the California Urban Forests Council. This group of citizens is
interested in the planting, care, and protection of trees in El Cerrito's
public parks, along its streets and on private property. The members
of the group are also concerned about related issues of conserving vegetation
and stewardship of natural resources for the health, value, and well-being
of our communities and environment.
goals of the group are to:
public awareness about the values and the proper care of trees,
through educational and outreach efforts;
protect and conserve diverse trees on public and private property
in El Cerrito, and discourage the cutting of healthy trees;
and assist in the planting, care, and maintenance of trees and other
broader environmental conservation and stewardship efforts in El Cerrito.
of the group believe that mature trees help to make El Cerrito a pleasant
place to live and work, and contribute to beautiful views. The group
members recognize that trees have many economic, ecological, health,
and aesthetic benefits, including enhancement of property values.
are eager to work collaboratively with the City staff, the City Council,
and with other organizations in El Cerrito that are interested in these
issues. We hope to work cooperatively with the City on activities that
relate to tree and vegetation planting, care/maintenance, planning,
conservation, and education. For example, we plan to provide input and
recommendations to the contractor and City Council regarding the current
planning for El Cerrito landscape maintenance. We also would be happy
to collaborate with PG&E's Safe Tree Program for planting and caring
of trees along city streets. The group is open and welcome to all interested
individuals who would like to join our meetings and activities.
of the activities that we carried out during recent weeks was the preparation
of a petition regarding El Cerrito's trees, which is attached. 119 people
have signed this petition. As you will see the petition expresses support
for planting and protection of trees in El Cerrito s public parks, along
its streets, and on private property. The people who signed this believe
that mature trees help to make El Cerrito a pleasant place to live and
work. The signers also urge the City Council to repeal the existing
Tree/View Ordinance in El Cerrito, mainly because this ordinance does
not protect the interests of the community as a whole. It has not always
been effective in resolving disputes among neighbors, and is generally
unfair to tree owners and others who value trees.
sum, the petition urges the City to support conservation, maintenance
and planting of trees that benefit El Cerrito's community and environment.
We hope this petition will be useful and constructive for the City,
in planning processes and to demonstrate citizen concerns and interests.
would like to clarify several basic principles and recommendations:
are a valuable part of views. They are treasured and appreciated
by many property owners and other citizens in El Cerrito, and add
to property values in many cases. (Please see the attached articles
by Dr. Coder and the National Arbor Day Foundation that document
economic and other quantitative benefits of trees for communities.)
fully acknowledge that if particular trees are determined by a professional
certified arborist or scientist to pose a serious hazard or danger
to property or to people, they should be removed or trimmed to the
point that a hazard no longer exists on private or public property.
However, healthy trees are beneficial for many purposes and should
be conserved and planted.
noted above, we believe that the Tree /View Ordinance should be
repealed. We believe that if disagreements about trees rise between
property owners, the parties should try to resolve the issues together.
If they cannot agree, the parties should be referred to one the
experienced mediation services in our area. For example, the Berkeley
Dispute Resolution Service is a local organization that is effective
and experienced in working out solutions agreeable to both sides.
Sending disputes to such a service would save time and energy for
the City staff, and could prevent legal action against the city.
(The costs of such a mediation service would be covered by the parties
involved.) In addition, we have found useful information and guidelines
about more appropriate tree conservation ordinances that have been
used in other cities in the U.S. Some of this information is listed
on the website: http://www.treelink.org;
in particular, we encourage you to look at the Minnesota's Shade
Tree Advisory Committee site.
the upcoming planning process for tree maintenance in El Cerrito,
we suggest the following:
planted or growing in parking strips and along streets should be
allowed to grow more than 8 feet, to ensure that they can become
healthy mature trees, so long as their roots are not damaging the
sidewalk and they are not posing any hazard. (Currently, maintenance
staff often cut them when they exceed eight feet, which can result
in major damage to the overall tree health, as well as highly unattractive
looks.) Citizens and City staff can also work collaboratively with
PG&E to select and plant trees that will not interfere with
broad diversity of trees is desirable on both public and private
property, to enhance resilience, ecological sustainability, and
aesthetic attraction. Either non-native and native trees/vegetation
may be appropriate to include in many areas.
your consideration of this letter and petition. We look forward to continuing
to collaborate with the City and other organizations who are involved
in the management of trees and other valuable natural resources. Our
efforts will help keep our City unique, ecologically-balanced and attractive
for all residents, businesses, and visitors.
The Friends of El Cerrito Trees
To join the Friends of
El Cerrito Trees, or be on the mailing list contact us
Design & Maintenance by Deborah DiFruscia
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