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Carlsbad's Other Tree People

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
January 29, 2001


Following the uproar surrounding the mutilation of 65 eucalyptus trees in La Costa Canyon Park it is impossible not to wonder if an environmental renaissance is simply out of reach. It's not news that people would chop down trees to improve a view. And it's no surprise that most people would rather pay others to do it for them. What has left me questioning is the complete disregard for the trees.

When 3 homeowners in Carlsbad paid an unprofessional, and highly disreputable, work crew to illegally cut trees in a city park one would think that the action would be duly recognized, and the culprits mildly dealt with. This is Southern California after all, where land rape is common place, and the only species with a right to life are people and their pampered pets. End of story.

The real news of this little eco-drama is the fact that the Carlsbad Police Department can not find malicious intent on the part of the people who put the hit out on those 65 trees. These folks broke the law by vandalizing public amenities to improve their view without any regard for the trees or their neighbors who use the park. Far from a charitable gesture in any sense of the word.

Acting more like the suspects attorney Lt. Jim Byler.

of the CPD stated the homeowners have not been arrested or charged with a crime or had a legal claim filed against them, because "Their whole attitude has been very cooperative from the very beginning." Continuing to explain away the crime Lt. Byer said how the perpetrators were sorry about how this all happened and they didn't know the tree trimmers would do so much damage. As if that is an excuse for criminal activity.

Up north people break the law trying to protect trees, and down here residents are breaking the law to remove them. And in both case the people doing the violence against trees are being aided by law enforcement. Is this surreal or what? It's sort of like an environmental Twilight Zone, absurd and menacing, with a deep dark message for those paying attention.

Thankfully the Carlsbad City Council has no problem seeing malicious intent in the action of some very selfish homeowners. According to Carlsbad City Attorney Ronald Ball the city will be filing a lawsuit against the offending residents to seek complete restitution for damages and all costs to the city. The case is also being turned over to the the District attorney for possible criminal prosecution. A little time behind bars will leave those homeowners with a deeper appreciation for trees of any kind.

To be fair it should be noted there are many who question the cities judgment in planting invasive non-natives in the first place. But that is an issue of biology over esthetics, and those folks are wise enough not to blame the Carlsbad's parks department lack of foresight on the trees. In a perfect world the city would replace the damaged eucalyptus' with indigenous species. Toyon is a native species that will not only provide shade, it also attracts a plethora of birds and butterflys.

If their is a lesson to be learned from this incident I don't know what it is. What I do know is that waging war against nature serves nobody in the long run. A view to the ocean may be nice, but then again so is a view that encompasses both trees and ocean.

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