2 min
at 11:43 PM

A couple of years ago we moved to a Bay Area suburb with a tree as its symbol: a leafy green tree, situated on a green hillside, within a green triangle. This symbol conjures up a peaceful image - a town committed to its trees, its citizens dedicated to preserving these stalwart testaments of nature.

Isn't it ironic, then, that many trees here are cut down not because they're unhealthy or pose a danger? Folks we know had oaks in their backyard. While they were on vacation, their neighbors chopped off most of the oaks' branches, killing the trees. Why? Because the trees were blocking their view! To me, trees are the view!

Another couple wants to chop down the majestic 50-year old redwood that sits partially on our property. Certified as healthy by an arborist, the redwood towers beautifully above our house and amply shades our back bedrooms. Even after many conversations - one of them heated - their motivation to remove the tree still eludes.

Don't get me wrong: I completely understand the need to remove diseased or dying trees. We paid a hefty sum to have our diseased oak removed. We consulted a tree pathologist; we paid the city for a tree removal permit; and we hired a licensed and certified arborist to remove the tree. Hawaii would have to wait.

December brought the first heavy rains. Unlicensed tree trimmers flocked to our neighborhood. One car even advertised, "Not state licensed". I'm not a tree expert, but the trees they trimmed just didn't look right. With one homeowners' permission, these tree trimmers leveled an entire backyard, sawing down all trees as if they were weeds.

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It's quiet now in the shade of our oak. But soon the buzzing chain saws and crashing tree limbs will be familiar again. So much for the peace, green, and quiet of living in a suburb with a tree as its symbol.

With a Perspective, I'm Claudia Cohen.

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Claudia Cohen is a law librarian and lives in Lafayette.

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