National and international events may sizzle, but face it, the real quality of life issues are right here in our local community. Take the trees. A few years ago the Einstein arborists in city hall targeted the removal of certain stately ficus trees on downtown streets, sparking huge protests. The “battle born” twiggy replacements have arrived, at least along 4th Street between Santa Monica and Arizona. Meet ginkgo biloba “Autumn Gold.” It may not be so much the species, leafless in winter, as the size that first impacts. Seems the city couldn’t spring the bucks to transplant a fair sized plant. Instead, our latest ”sidewalk forest” addition is a sorry sapling not much taller than passing pedestrians. Goodbye stately ficus and thanks for your decades of planet-cooling shade. Hello prepubescent ginkgo. Ginkgo is a gymnosperm and trees are male or female. Our new trees are undoubtedly all males, and good thing as the female ginkgo drops a soft fruit that squishes to potentially litigious paste slippery as ice. Worse, the fruit stinks. The stench may explain why ginkgos have survived for 200 million years, they were contemporaries of dinosaurs and no doubt some of the coal we burn today to warm the globe is fossil ginkgo. The newest addition to our urban forest is non-native, an invader from China.
Meanwhile, things are not going swimmingly in nearby Pacific Palisades where they have a huge battle brewing in 90272. For decades the Palisades-Malibu YMCA had leased ($1 a year) their the Temescal Canyon outdoor pool from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The pipes rusted (the pool otherwise is sound) and the Y offered to raise $400,000 to re-plumb the facility. Whoops. The Conservancy wouldn’t grant more than a five year lease to the Y, and the Y backed out not wanting to make a huge investment with so little usable return. The Conservancy then filled the pool with tons of pea gravel and covered it with sod. (No report if the sod is native or non-native.) Now a group of aquatic lawyers (there’s a shark joke here somewhere) have filed suit against the Conservancy on behalf of Friends of Temescal Pool arguing that the Conservancy’s public funding requires it to keep the pool open. The crisis can probably be resolved if everyone just stays cool.
Finally some good news on the quality of life front. It looks probable that the Santa Monica City Council will NOT be installing red light surveillance cameras based in part upon an SMPD survey that found that no intersection has had ten or more accidents with red light violations over the last five years. Whoppee! Santa Monica remains a bastion of civil liberty and avoids the plague of “junk mail justice” where any trip to the mail box can whack you with a $500 citation. The jury is out on whether the cameras enhance safety anyway. But beware, Big Brother’s Cyclops eye blinks regularly at intersections in neighboring Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, among other less enlightened jurisdictions.