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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: City hasn't properly dealt with tree issues or view issues

Although Glenn Davis and I totally disagree on the relative merits of Trees vs. Views, I can understand the frustration of some of our uphill neighbors. Year after year they tried and failed to get our City to help restore their disappearing views. Unfortunately, the same applies to our disappearing public trees. Since 1990 citizens have been saying to various Councils "You must spend some money on the Greescape" It's sad that our city has not properly dealt with either view issues nor with tree issues. Perhaps, keeping the citizens fighting each other lets Council and Staff concentrate on their pet building projects.

Here's what I had to say on our Disappearing Greenscape - Comments to City Council, 1/20/04.
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As outgoing chair of El Cerrito's Park & Rec. Commission I wish to address, on my own behalf, an issue I have often commented on before - the ongoing and continuous deterioration of our town's greenscape. I will not talk about the Recreation part of parks and recreation. That gets money, has good leadership and does well. The greenscape is in very bad shape.

Basically both Council and staff have neglected the Greenscape since the early 90s. My reviews of budgets show that practically NO money has been budgeted for the Greenscape in close to thirteen years. Some might say, "Well surely the city replenishes the trees and bushes that
were cut, maybe somewhere else." No so. As documented in the Vallier Report, our trees, the greenery, is disappearing.

We are neglecting and ruining our greenscape as badly as George Bush is destroying our national and the global environment. The blame lies with the Council and staff. The Council will only spend money on buildings. Parks and creeks get some support only if this provides ground breaking photo-ops. Many of you staff and council have gardens. You surely spend money on your own plants. Yet you don't spend the public's money to properly maintain our public parks. Why not?

Until recently the City supposedly had adequate funds, but it is obvious that Council & Management refused to reverse the trend, and maintain, let alone increase, our greenscape. This, in spite of citizens' initiatives and occasional forays into tree planting by volunteers and staff. Do you know how many public trees were cut down in El Cerrito yesterday? I do! Do you have plans to replace them?

I worked to have the Vallier Tree Inventory followed by an Urban Forest Plan, without which it is becoming a wasted effort. Neither Council or staff have showed any initiative in asking for, or
budgeting for money for an urban forest plan, even for just one park. This, in times of plenty! Now, in a fiscal crisis, it's even less likely. You are concerned about City Hall, but that was never meant to be permanent. Our Greenscape does not deserve destruction thru neglect. You call yourselves progressives, which usually implies environmental stewardship. Not in El Cerrito!

You never acted on my request that half of the Del Norte Place $1.4 million go to the greenscape in the Redevelopment area. Even worse, later today, the Agency is going to take money promised to the Gateway parks, to finance the movie theater. This in spite of the recent City Survey showing that parks and library get vastly more citiizen support than the movie theatre, only a much smaller minority of residents want the movie theater. And this was without telling us the true cost!

I specifically request that you DO Not take money from the Gateway project for the movie theater, and that instead you take half the $1.4 million and use it for the gateway parks and tree planting on San Pablo. You then take money from the general fund for an urban forest plan for Canyon Trail park, and its implementation. A Citywide Urban Forest Plan should follow. We must take care of our environment.
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Note: The City Council in a 4:1 vote ignored the request, and took the money away from the Gateway Park funds and gave it to the movie theater

Rosemary Loubal, El Cerrito
Run dates: 2004-01-25 - 2004-02-08
 


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