Once upon a time Pacific Grove had a majestic forest canopy that flowed from Monterey Bay to Shining Sea. Squirrels could jump branch to branch from Lover’s Point to Asilomar – and never touch the ground.
The forest almost completely covered the rolling landscape by the Pacific. This of course was before we “settled” here in the 1800s and started cutting roads — less than 200 years ago. That land is now almost covered with pavement and buildings.
Pacific Grove has lost almost half (40 percent) of its trees since 1986 – which is just short while ago.
So how does the current Council want to “solve” this serious problem? (After all the town is called Pacific Grove.)
By WEAKENING the law to allow more tree destruction and blaming the current law for the tree loss.
What a mess. What a mess of our forest and a mess of alleged ideas by the City Council.
For a set of Pacific Grove Council members who believe they are smart (hang on to that amusing evaporating concept) – they could not have demonstrated –
1) More Contempt for Trees, and
2) Sillier Thinking or Rationale
The Council did have consensus on hypocrisy and irony. See if you can follow this logic. They agreed —
a) Our current tree protection law is awful (It isn’t – it just isn’t enforced because City staff insubordinately refuse to enforce it, and developers don’t want it enforced.)
b) The new tree destruction law the Council is pushing is awful (They are right – it removes tree protection)
c) But we MUST “Do Something” (even if it is worse or harmful)
d) Because it is now so URGENT (after many years, we don’t even have a week to show the draft proposal to the Natural Resources Committee or three days to let the public review it.)
To summarize – The Council claims / admits that the existing Tree Protection law and the proposed Tree Destruction law are both awful, but “we have to do something NOW !”
So remembering that Pacific Grove has lost 40 percent of its tree canopy since 1986 — which awful version would they choose?
It turns out they are eager to adopt an admittedly awful law that — cuts down a lot more trees.
The Tree Hater Award Goes to . . .
It is difficult to determine which Council member hates trees more because they were all fighting Tree protection and Canopy restoration. Only Mayor Garcia and Councilman Cohen were silent on the substance of the proposal.Bill Kampe hates the idea of restoring our forest canopy to 1986 levels – which he said he believes was the maximum forest canopy cover in Pacific Grove for the last 100 or so years. His extreme seat-of-the-pants conjecture is based on absolutely no evidence – just his twisted imagination which contradicts all existing physical evidence and historic photographs.
Yet Kampe seemingly convinced Councilman Miller of this baseless false claim. Kampe only moved here from San Jose a couple years ago, but Miller should know better because he has lived here for more than half a Century.
However in contrast to Kampe, Councilman Dan Miller has publicly expressed heartfelt appreciation for trees.
But don’t imagine that you can convince Bill with evidence – Kampe hates trees. He won’t come right out and say it publicly because he’s running for Mayor, but you can hear Machiavellian echoes in his many Chess moves to erode and chainsaw away tree protection in Pacific Grove.
(I had the dubious pleasure of watching him act up in the Pacific Grove Natural Resources Committee meetings – where he tried to chop off public comment supporting tree protection. So it should come as no surprise that it was Bill “Fast Food” Kampe who pushed this tree destruction issue on to the Council agenda.)
You might have to give Kampe some credit for a whisper of sincerity – he hasn’t falsely claimed he wants to protect trees.
Ken Cuneo joined Kampe in fighting Restoration of our magnificent forest canopy.
Councilman Ken Cuneo opposes any canopy restoration goal unless the city has extra funding. Oh and by the way Cuneo isn’t going to give it any funds.
Cuneo, without any explanation, blames the current law for the loss of our tree canopy. (remember these Council members believe they are smart . . .)
“We have to do something.” “We can’t have this coming up. We have other issues [dd: to ignore - like the $53 million CalPERS pension debt].” – Councilman Ken Cuneo
Huitt said “We have to do something [even if it is awful].” However Huitt did admit that the proposed Tree Protection reduction requires an Environmental Impact Report.
Rudy Fisher – didn’t add a single thought to the tree protection / destruction debate. He apparently just spoke up to make it seem like he was paying attention.
Even Dan Miller had trouble with having a Tree Canopy Restoration goal (not a law mind you – just a goal). He is baffled where we could put the thousands of trees needed to restore the canopy; the canopy we’ve lost since 1986.
Hmm. Here’s a hint – maybe all the thousands of exact locations where the identical number of trees were taken down since 1986. Sure there’s been a few starter mansions built so a few locations are not available – but the vast majority are not yet paved over.
Enforcement is the Real Problem
The problem with the existing Tree Protection law is that City staff refuses to enforce it.
(That’s also how they keep self-approving so many questionable permits for the City itself to chainsaw any tree they want, and how under Mayor Dan Cort – more than 770 Pacific Grove trees were destroyed in a single year !)
In fact the current Public Works Director Mike Zimmer astoundingly declared publicly he doesn’t want to enforce ANY tree protection law.
This is well understood by residents on all sides of the tree debate who agree the city refuses to enforce its own tree law; especially when the city is doing more logging than anyone – and failing to replant them.
City staff is so repelled by having to protect trees they fairly successfully tried to get the law discredited by filing bogus criminal charges against a fellow for cutting down a tree – that was clearly logged many years prior to them having police cars show up on his doorstep.
Staffocracy is dictatorship by bureaucrats. When unelected bureaucrats make, or overwhelmingly influence, a government policy or judicial decision. Sometimes staff refuses to follow policy decisions made by elected officials; also known as insubordination.
So until the Council is faced with the expensive Mitigations and Alternatives the EIR will require – they can’t be trusted to take any Tree Protection seriously.
* * * A simple solution to improve our Tree Protection law and stop the harassment of innocent residents is to keep the existing law – but adjust the law to make City staff accountable for enforcing it – reasonably.
Here’s some phone numbers of the Council members so you can let them know how you feel.
Rober Huitt: 831.648.3106
Dan Miller: 831.648.3106
Alan Cohen: 831.648.3106
Ken Cuneo: 831.648.3106
Bill Kampe: 831.648.3106
Rudy Fisher: 831.648.3106
Mayor Garcia: 831.648.3106
For more information see City Forest Link/a/a