October 1, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Letters to the Editor:

Earthquakes and Schools

With the sad and horrifying images of the Chinese earthquake still fresh in my mind, I cannot help but wonder how the Santa Monica schools would fare in a similar situation. An 8.0 earthquake is a very real possibility in this area. I recall the loss of life and tremendous amount of damage done by the Northridge earthquake in 1994, and that was “only” a 6.7 on the Richter scale.

I know many of the Santa Monica schools are in older buildings. Have they been adequately retrofitted to ensure they are as safe as possible? I have tried to find this information on the web and on the SMMUSD website and have not come up with anything. I hope this issue has been sufficiently addressed. After all, what is more precious than our children?

Sincerely,

Nancy Himmelfarb

Marina del Rey

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The Trees

The City Council has made good its promise to lift the injunction against destroying the Ficus trees surrounding the Promenade and contractors have commenced replacing ficus trees with trees that have sparse canopies.

This all started when the city attempted an end run to avoid public notification by claiming the ficus trees were a “facility,” rather than living organic entities. Is it really in the public interest to destroy these mature trees, especially without properly notifying and consulting with the residents of this city? The public has a right to know why this is being done, and what criteria determines which trees are decayed, or structurally compromised to the extent that many of them can not be saved.

City staff prepared the report to remove these trees and deliberately misled the public by saying the trees were diseased. That language was retracted only because there was a public outcry when people learned of the subterfuge Council and staff used in order to rush through their agenda without the public finding out.

The City had an excellent opportunity to allow public participation and thoroughly discuss the pro and con arguments. Why was the City so secretive, not wanting the public to know why (and how) removing trees improves downtown Santa Monica? Why did the Council refuse to consider options other than replacing our trees? Why did the city refuse to consider proposals from impartial arborists, for practical and effective alternatives to cope with the root systems, without destroying the trees? If these mature ficus trees are hardy enough to be transplanted to the airport (with jet fuel raining on their canopy) surely their root systems can be structurally reconfigured to protect pedestrian safety.

Why is it that trees marked for destruction are located downtown, on 2nd and 4th (between Colorado and Wilshire)? If the City wanted a more lighted pedestrian environment, the obvious solution is to change the location of the lights, not get rid of the trees.

Why did our Council decide to manipulate the public into believing that some of our mature trees are unstable, but still can be relocated?

Wouldn’t it be much better to save these trees in place? Is it possible that some ficus trees have been made structurally unstable by excessive root pruning? I firmly believe there are sane alternatives to cutting down trees, by city officials who are acting in their own interest.

Once again, our City Council has shown its callous indifference, arrogance, and lack of concern for the residents of Santa Monica. The council’s motives in this matter have less to do with the public interest than in appeasing city staff, and various special interests that they rely on to support their re-election. They care more about increasing revenue and business priorities, even when those interests go against the public welfare.

City staff are under civil service protection, and not accountable to the public, but the voters can replace the members of the council, most of whom were elected with the endorsement of city workers, developers and machine politics. Be warned, we have an election coming up and there will be a reckoning…

Jonathan Mann

Santa Monica

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It’s bad enough that the grain cartel’s ethanol subsidy is creating a “gaming the market” mentality amongst large farmers, and probably a new dustbowl in the Midwest, really because the nature of “fossilized fuels” is not recognized by the energy cartel. No, Santa Monica has to instantly desertify downtown, by killing 23 of the 164 [?] perfectly healthy or, at least, extremely prolific *ficus benjaminiana*, to the extreme detriment of whatever replacements are going to be planted.

If SM is supposed to be urbanely forested, then shouldn’t the trees be harvested one at a time, or coppiced, or, at the least, the best use made of the wood that was grown? None of the stumps, that I saw on Friday [?] morning — the ones that were not already roto-tilled into mulch when I looked — showed the least sign of rot, although they were not perfectly round, either. As it is, there seems to be no adequate justification for this clear-cutting of downtown, other than for the sake of solidifying the City’s powers of eminent domain, or for creating a “greeny” backlash for the sake of … the Governeurateur, who would be Presidential? You see, one of the nice trees was directly in front of Shriver’s Natural Resources Defense Council “green” building.

To belabor the obvious, much of the “green” legislation starts in SM, before it gets to Los Angeles; so?

Sincerely,

Brian Hutchings

Santa Monica

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