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Woodsman, Spare That Tree--or Maybe Not

March 24, 1994|WENDY MILLER | Wendy Miller is editor of Ventura County Life

Trees may be essential to life, but like all important living things--mom, work, the dog, your best friend--they can also be a pain.

They provide the air you breathe, while they scatter the leaves you rake; they are the roof overhead and the sap stains on your best shoes; they provide shade, while they bore through your sewage pipe.

They can both add to and subtract from the value of your home, which is why many homeowners have mixed emotions about the trees on their street. Staff writer Jeff Meyers, who wrote today's Centerpiece story on tree troubles in the county, is no exception.

"While never actually hugging a tree, I have a deep appreciation for their existence, especially those lining suburban streets or shading lawns," Meyers said. "Aside from giving neighborhoods character and charm, trees convey a sense of stability and strength, sentries standing watch over our homes."

But sentries too can be pests; ask any dog owner. Or ask any city arborist, who must choose the trees that line our streets and deal with some of the eccentric choices made years ago by his predecessors.

As a result of those choices, some cities have monstrous sewer-choking laurels, high-maintenance corals and diseased Monterey pines. Public works crews have ministered to the sick, euthanized the dying and assassinated the incorrigible.

All of which is expensive and ultimately unsatisfactory to budget-conscious city leaders, horticulturists and homeowners alike.

And the trees are none too happy either.

"In reporting the story, I was told by a few arborists that people have asked cities to chop down trees for selfish reasons," Meyers said. "Leaves make a mess. Sap drips on cars. If this kind of attitude prevails, we might as well plant plastic trees and install Astroturf. Or just pave over everything."

There is no easy transition from trees to food, so I won't even try. I'll just let you know that on today's food page, you will find our new Tidbits column. We will be reporting on restaurants, staff changes at local eateries, food demonstrations, cookbooks, tastings, special dinners and other food news from around the county.

If you hear about new eating establishments, or if an old favorite closes--or changes management, chefs, hours or menus--please give columnist Leo Smith a call. Or drop him a line. Leo is always out to lunch--and breakfast and dinner--these days, but he'll get back to you.

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