South Pas-based arborist Terry Chesbro looks around his client’s San Marino estate filled with trees like Pines, Ornamental Plums and Jackarandas.
“Trees left to themselves will sustain damage in events like heavy rain and heavy wind—and the evidence is all around us.”
“Generally, if you drive around, you’ll find that trees that have been trimmed within the last one to two years … those trees sustained a lot less damage in ,” he told Patch one afternoon in December.
Chesbro has worked as an arborist in San Gabriel Valley for more than 35 years—and, he says, the windstorm that in December 2011 has been the worst he’s seen in SGV since December 1971.
Cleaning Up The Mess
At an emergency Natural Resource and Environmental Committee (NREC) meeting following the windstorm, South Pas Parks Supervisor and certified arborist Noe Cardenas insisted he needed help.
“I need another person to get out there and do tree work. This has been a known fact in the Parks Department for many, many years. We are understaffed.”
And NREC members echoed his concerns: “If we have people who are afraid out there, [them] being able to have confidence and assessment of the trees [may] help alleviate fears,” said Kim Hughes.
While the City has had yet to agendize the NREC’s recommendation to hire a private contractor to work under Cardenas’ guidance, Mayor Michael Cacciotti indicated that City Council would consider such a request in its upcoming , says NREC member Diana Mahmud.
But until then: “The future does not look good for our trees. We need an arborist out there doing assessments to our trees," Noe told NREC in December.
“Trees are the most hazardous things out there—and we have old trees. We have liability issues on our hands, and we have to address them,” he continued.
Trees Are Like Humans
The most vulnerable trees are the youngest and the oldest, says Chesbro. The ones that are most likely to survive a windstorm, “are trees that have not reached their turning point—their midlife crisis.”
Currently, a permit is required in South Pas for the trimming of mature heritage, native species or Oak trees. And in order to take one down, you must have a good reason—aesthetics won’t work.
At , CC discussed writing harsher penalties into the city's tree ordinance, such as a "tree replacement fee" that could amount to the value of the tree removed.
Mahmud spoke up in public comment to back the changes: "We need this ordinance—particulary in light of the recent windstorm."
The new ordinance is being drafted by City Staff and will be brought back to Council at an upcoming meeting.