I remember, back before everyone and every entity either was or pretended to be environmentally conscious, when Pasadena was an early leader in going green. For its own sake. For trees and streams and open spaces. Potential council members including Rick Cole and Bill Crowfoot ran for office on such platforms — real ones. Not fake.
For a couple of years now, and maybe I’ll trace it personally to the day when the city was caught throwing out hundreds of perfectly good desks and chairs that had been stored behind the Armory Northwest on Fair Oaks — I grabbed a drafting chair for free — it’s mostly been a sham. City management and many on the City Council are interested in the appearance of being environmentally (and fiscally) correct rather than the reality.
The rubber (tree) has really hit the road in this whole chopped-down ficus business in the Playhouse District. Many of us told the council that destroying the magnificent canopy of shade trees was a bad idea even though it had been approved a decade and a half ago by a mistaken bureaucratic fiat — which, yes, included citizen input; average Janes and Joes can be wrong, too — that no one had got around to implementing.
Yet the council let its Public Works Department deforest Colorado Boulevard in the middle of the night with no warning precisely because it knew that otherwise there would be protests from tree-huggers.
And now, so far as I can tell, every single one of the council members says that it was a mistake to let the trees go. And yet a numbly bureaucratic staff and its patsies on the council Monday night put the final ax in the trunk of good sense by deciding to go ahead with the misguided plan to put non-shading palm trees and non-shading gingkos in as the replacement for the ficuses. They repeat the mantra about the latter getting some good score on some UN chart — even though the trees don’t work in Southern California, and even though anyone can see that the gingkos provide no shade. But pay no attention to reality — we have a report here!
And the council even let a speaker get away with claiming Monday night that the old and mildly lush gingkgos on Lombardy are the same variety as the ones they’re going to plant on Colorado — when, as I’ve pointed out in my column, they’re not. But they don’t care. Staff has them bamboozled.
Bravo to Councilman Sid Tyler for leading the lonely fight for real trees instead of sticks. Bravo to Councilman Chris Holden for taking the time to see the light — or the shade — and voting the right way Monday night. Half a cheer to Councilman Steve Haderlein, who voted the right way, if, so far as I could tell, only because he was ticked off that some trees wouldn’t be planted in his district during any breath-catching moratorium while the city figured out a sane tree policy.
Big boos for everyone else who are following this misguided new staff desire to take up trowels and smooth over the concrete jungle, with a few twigs allowed to rise up from the holes in the pavement.