First published in the May 26 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
There has been lots of discourse about the future of Palm Crest Elementary School and its trees within the Letters to the Editor over the last couple of months. The broader issue at hand is our beautiful town and sustainability. LCUSD owns 48.66 acres of real estate that is not subject to the tree ordinances of our city. Our entire community would benefit from adopting a policy on trees for the school district. Similar policies are in place in other California school districts, including in Palo Alto, which LCUSD routinely holds up as our equal.
Ninety-two trees are being removed from Palm Crest – about 42 of these are for the parking lot which is being increased from 85 to 93 parking spaces. When the project is complete, the school will have more parking than most schools in Los Angeles. Is parking really our top priority? The trees make the campus welcoming and beautiful and provide many health benefits to the town and neighborhood. The modernization plan at Palm Crest will cut down some trees at least 100 years old. Half of the property’s 18 native trees are slated for removal.
We have four beautiful properties in this town and they need to be protected. The district’s only offer of mitigation to offset the loss is planting new trees. Planting new trees right now when we are in a historic drought isn’t a sustainable option. Even if the trees do survive, they are using a precious resource that we don’t need to use on new trees. Furthermore, the new trees won’t provide a habitat for wildlife for 10 years and they won’t provide shade for the children for that long or even longer.
We are so fortunate to have an existing mature canopy on our campuses. The city of La Cañada Flintridge has many ordinances on trees in place. We must create a policy to protect and preserve our mature and heritage trees on our school campuses.
La Cañada Flintridge