Dear Mayor Katz and Members of the Santa Monica City Council:
On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), I write to urge the City Council to postpone its planned removal or relocation of healthy ficus trees in the downtown area and urge that alternative design approaches be investigated and negotiations undertaken to address community concerns. NRDC’s Southern California headquarters office is located at 1314 Second Street under the shade of two of the targeted trees.
In addition to aesthetic benefits, mature urban trees, as the City’s Public Landscape Division acknowledges, provide many benefits to our community, including shade from summer sun, sanctuary for urban wildlife, filtration of polluted air and water, enhanced property values, and reduction of the urban heat island effect. To forfeit these benefits for the sake of an urban re-design could result in unfortunate and irretrievable consequences both in the near term and over the long term. If the trees proposed for removal are not truly diseased or fatally damaged and do not otherwise present a safety hazard, there would appear to be no reason for their removal other than a subjective vision of urban re-design. By cutting down these ficus trees, however, Santa Monica will sacrifice some of the most prominent leafy canopies that have benefited the downtown for decades.
We respectfully urge you to consider alternative design approaches that do not require the relocation or destruction of healthy mature trees and request that you delay tree removal or relocation pending further study of alternatives and pursuit of negotiations to address community concerns. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Joel Reynolds, Director, Urban Program
Natural Resources Defense Council
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In your articles about home schooling, there’s very little about the lack of socialization. Children who are at home are not mingling with their peers. Isolation prevents learning how to deal with others, and experience multiple points of view. If we want to create a society of hermits who sit with their machines, and never encounter a real person, then home schooling is the answer. But, if we don’t want any more wars caused by no one trusting anyone else, then we need to have schools for all, so that they may enjoy humanity’s diversity. The only exceptions should be those who are too ill or incapacitated to attend.
In addition, private schools may not have public certification, but their teachers must be certified. Home schoolers have no certification of any kind, and their subject matter may be somewhat selective, without any universal timeliness. It is not up to non-credentialed individuals to decide what constitutes a complete education for function in society. If home schooling is to continue, then students should be required to pass certain standardized tests for validation. We don’t hand out driver’s licenses on street corners. Why should we accept a piecemeal education?
If our schools are not doing a good job, we must upgrade and improve our standards. If home schooling is failing, who is there to answer for it?
Rosemary Patterson, West Los Angeles