Where have all the trees gone?

Posted by R.S. Rodriguez

“It takes years and decades for a tree to grow and seconds to make the bone-headed decision to fell one.”- Me.

I grew up in Oxnard on “J” Street between Hill and Wooley Roads. Fond memories I possess of our-once tree lined street. Most houses on the street were accentuated with proud, commanding trees which took decades to grow.  By the time I was a teenager, most of those trees had fallen prey to the City of Oxnard’s tree cutting department. My understanding for felling most of the trees is that the roots of the trees were cracking and raising the sidewalk along the street.  Our block lost a lot of character and charm when those trees were chopped down.  I wish the City of Oxnard had either replaced and raised the sidewalks or had had the vision to replace those trees. Had they done the latter, J Street again would be a much more interesting and beautiful tree-lined thoroughfare.

The houses on our street were built in the mid-fifties. Granted, they don’t have the architectural intrigue of houses in Oxnard’s Historic District. Yet the block itself was similar to “F” Street, in as such both streets were tree lined with dozens of majestic trees.

Decades later, the decisions to remove those trees have affected my outlook on Oxnard. As I drive around town, I often realize there’s a dearth of trees in the community. Hundreds and thousands of residents in Oxnard have taken it upon themselves to rid their front yards of trees over the years, leaving hundreds of properties barren of the character a tree can provide.  Some have removed trees for justifiable reasons- perhaps the tree was too old or diseased and therefore became a safety issue.  Unfortunately, I think the vast majority of the trees were cut down as homeowners simply grew tired of racking leaves.  What a shame.

The City of Oxnard also has some responsibility in this scarcity of trees.  I rarely go a week or two without seeing tree cutting crews employed by the city removing trees throughout the community (granted, some trees are removed due to safety concerns.  But if the city removes a tree, there should be policy in place to either replace that tree or to plant another tree elsewhere in town).  It’s unusual to see the same crews in town actually planting trees.

Though I have seen the aqua-green trucks with attached trailer stump grinders owned by the City of Oxnard throughout town, I lay most of the blame for altering entire neighborhoods mostly on the shoulders of individual residents for removing trees on their properties. In my neighborhood, if I hear a chainsaw in the distance, I grind my teeth and shake my head.  It’s time for the City of Oxnard to do much more to reverse the decades-long trend of removing trees.  There should be a push to promote tree planting and to spare spruces, conifers, oaks and other species from being chopped down simply to avoid the task of having to rake.

It is my understanding that in Sacramento a tree cannot be chopped down without permission or justification regardless if said tree is on private or city-owned property. If a tree is removed anywhere in Sacramento, the city will either replace the tree with a young sapling or will plant three other trees elsewhere in town.  Sound public policy Oxnard should incorporate.  Additionally, the City of Oxnard should implement and execute an educational and beautification campaign highlighting the aesthetic charm and environmental benefits of trees. Oxnard needs more trees….thousands of them.

Carmel is obviously a beautiful seaside town in Central California. Oxnard isn’t Carmel, but imagine if the latter had residents and city-employed tree cutting crews chopping down the beautiful trees in that hamlet. It certainly would alter the beauty of Carmel.

In closing, plant a tree, Oxnard residents.  Doing so will beautify your home and neighborhood and could potentially improve the value of your property.  Convince your neighbor to do the same.