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Is Tree Removal the Answer?

I read with interest the article about eucalyptus tree accidents. It’s awful that people have been killed by trees (and any other cause).

Selective, limited tree pruning should be performed on all trees that pose an imminent hazard to people or property. That said, most types of trees can potentially hurt people and property. It would be impossible to enforce mandatory trimming of every tree in the city or county of San Diego.

Is tree removal the answer? I think I speak for the majority of residents in writing that a plentiful variety of trees are one of the best things about living in San Diego. My personal favorites are pepper and eucalyptus trees. They provide badly needed shade, erosion control, and oxygen. They help offset greenhouse gasses and global warming. They make the city and county what it is today.

Removal of many non-native plant species is undesirable and impractical. Should a campaign of tree removal begin, it’s imperative that each removed tree be replaced by several planted trees. If that doesn’t happen, San Diego will become even more like its reviled northern cousin, Los Angeles. No one wants that.

  • James Wasser
  • Clairemont

If a tree falls...

If a tree falls...

A Really Nice Tree, 20 or 30 Seconds a Year

Re: “Deport the Eucalyptus,” June 2 cover story

I have been wary of the self-trimming eucalyptus for years. Once in a while I’d send a letter to the city suggesting a preemptive clip, and they would sometimes send out someone who would eventually tell me the tree in front of my house was “within specs” because it didn’t interfere with the acrobatics of the trash-collection system.

Fortunately, the branches that have fallen have been small and, with one exception, missed any vulnerable targets. The neighbor whose car was hit but not injured told me I should do something about “my” tree. Uh-huh.

I think the eucalyptus is a really nice tree, for the 20 or 30 seconds a year it isn’t dropping blossoms, seed pods, leaves, bark, branches and boughs on you. I’m saving up for a eucalyptusectomy. I understand the city will let me submit to that operation if I ask real nice.

  • F.M. Sheffield
  • Clairemont Mesa East

Off-road Response

You skateboarders need to have some patience (City Lights, “Skate Park in City Heights Still Not Open”). You guys raised $1.75 million. You’re lucky the politicians didn’t steal it from you like they do my green sticker money.

I’m an off-roader and, to date, they’ve stolen about $50 million out of that fund since 2009, and they keep doing it at the rate of about $800,000 of a year. That’s probably one of your grants. Just be lucky you’re getting a skate park. They keep shutting off-roading down.

And in response to “Urban Assault via VW” (Neighborhood News): Hey, Blake Wilkey, thanks bro. It’s people like you that shut off-roading down because you go out there and do stupid things and give us a bad name. Go out to the desert right now and see how everything’s shut down because of idiots like you. Have a good day, bro.

  • John
  • Encanto

What’s in a Name?

The Reader’s go-to “marine guy,” Danny Powell, keeps referring to that little-known facility that dabbles in marine sciences as the Scripps Institute and, now, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (“The Ruby Sea Dragon,” Waterfront). I guess getting the name correct about your subject matter is not a requisite when filing reports for the Reeder [sic]. It is and always has been the Scripps InstitutION of Oceanography. Maybe Mr. Powl [sic] doesn’t mind if folks misspell his name, but one would think a good reporter would endeavor to get it right.

As a former docent at the Birch Aquarium, I was instructed to inform our guests of the name of the institiutION that supports the great work done at the aquarium, as noted in Mr. Powee’s [sic] article.

By the way, there is no Scripps Institute of Oceanography and, yes, we get what you were referring to, Dewey, but there is a Scripps Institute in La Jolla and it has absolutely nothing to do with marine research. So, what’s in a name, Daniela?

  • Gene E. Schwartz
  • via facsimile

“There are already too many lights on that stretch of Linda Vista Road,” says Landis.

“There are already too many lights on that stretch of Linda Vista Road,” says Landis.

A Darn Good School

When Ms. Landis demanded that students respond to her activism (City Lights, “Francis Parker vs. Neighbors...Again”), we as a Parker family are happy to engage. The Parker school and the Northrim neighborhood are deeply intertwined. There needs to be a common understanding of the facts surrounding the plan to alter the shared intersection.

The Northrim neighborhood was formed during a financially challenging time (1973) for the school when 20 acres of school property was sold to the developers of the condominiums. Thus, the Northrim condominiums (built in 1979) surround the school (built in 1986) while the school is also hemmed between the edge of the mesa and Linda Vista Road.

The community and the school have changed a great deal since they were built. The Northrim community houses 500 people in 296 units across 26 buildings. Parker has about 700 students on 43 acres with a plan to increase the students to about 950. The community has more cars, and now utilizes on-street parking as secondary parking for many units; the school has more students and a need for improved safety.

The proposed plan that vexes Ms. Landis has the aim of improving the intersection at North Rim Court and Linda Vista Road. Why now? Each morning, the school traffic backs up onto Linda Vista Road. As cars enter the school property, they enter a small lot where students are dropped off from two lines of cars, where half of the students then walk in front of traffic once or twice in a small area where cars loops back to exit.

The school engaged a traffic firm to determine the best way to improve traffic flow for the school, and understand the impact on the neighborhood. The consulting engineers evaluated the four sides of the two intersections. They wrote and submitted a plan to the city — which the city accepted. The documents are in plain English and available on the city’s website.

The school then hired a public relations firm to earnestly convey the results of the report and the benefits to the entire community. Ms. Landis responded to the information by characterizing it as “bombarding us with statistics or incomprehensible industry jargon, that hardly shows a concern for us.”

The HOA and Ms. Landis retained a ‘rights advocate’ rather than a traffic engineer in order to fight change, rather than to seek to contribute to a positive dialog. After looking at the documents (on the web), it is my opinion that Ms. Landis refused to try to understand how the improved traffic flow for the school also helped her community exit from North Rim Court to Linda Vista Road. The facts and estimates contradict the narrative that Ms. Landis is trying to construct — hence, the characterization as ‘incomprehensible.’

Despite the drama, Ms. Landis clearly presented her concern: potential impact on her leaving her condominium during the 30-minute time period each morning before school begins (Francis Parker starts at 7:15 a.m.). She does not respond to the solution which shows how the community will benefit from the improved intersection.

Ms. Landis presents her arguments as a search for an equitable solution. She should recognize communities require a balance of convenience. The repeated suggestion of a sinister motive while at the same time electing not to read the public documents or listen to alternate views suggests an impediment to honest dialog.

As I believe there seems to be a surprising lack of understanding of the goals, mission, and character of the school in their shared back yard, I do believe that Parker should investigate the replacement of 17 on-street spaces with parking spaces for Ms. Landis and other neighbors on the unused campus lot in the evening. Maybe some access will help Ms. Landis to understand the darn good school that sits in her midst.

Finally, if Ms. Parker would like to have an hour discussion at her HOA’s clubhouse, I am sure that many people would be happy to discuss.

  • Bill Shirley
  • La Jolla/Berkeley

Walls of the World

Daniel J. Smiechowski’s letter compares the U.S.-Mexico border fence to the Berlin Wall. The latter was to keep people in, not out. The Great Wall of China, thousands of years old, still keeps people out. If the border fence had been put in by Mexico, to avoid people leaving, it would have been gone long ago, just like the Berlin Wall.

  • John Kitchin
  • San Ysidro

Ben Kalasho

Ben Kalasho

The Composition Effect

I would love to issue a response to the article that featured Ben Kalasho’s opinions on the Chaldean community in East County.

I preface my statement by saying I have no monetary instruments to gain, no business to promote, no political agenda. I hope it’s fully understood that the reason I’ve chosen to respond is that I am a very proud Chaldean American who is very proud of what his people have accomplished and, most importantly, to promote love within our community and extend it to others. I hope my writing can influence at least one person, and motivate them to get involved with the refugee crisis in the Middle East.

I have lived in East County my entire life. I share memories all over the city of El Cajon. My childhood and life is East County. I can use many words to describe El Cajon and living there; however, trapped is not one of them. As I read the article,

I was overcome with concern.

Let me say Ben Kalasho is a talented, educated individual who most certainly is qualified to voice his opinion. However, I simply don’t agree with what he’s said because factually there were many inaccuracies.

First, the poverty line in El Cajon is nowhere near 40%. It’s between 16.7 and 26%. Secondly, I disagree with his opinion that the economy can’t handle refugees coming in. In fact, history has shown that refugees give a big economic boom to municipalities and local governments. Immigrants of all stripes obviously increase a country’s total gross domestic product. More people equals more production overall, which also means a larger tax base. Its effect on per capita GDP is more ambiguous, since that depends on whether the immigrants have higher or lower skill levels than the native populations that they join.

If you look at what happened in Miami when they took in 125,000 Cuban refugees after the Mariel boat lift crisis, the total workforce went up 7% and had no adverse affect on the local labor market. More people means more taxes, which are spent back on your community. This is known as the composition effect, and is well studied by many economists.

Ben is not an economist, so I’m not frustrated with that. I took no offense until I got to his statement that “Chaldeans aren’t really fighters.” Simply put, a civilization and people could not last 5000 years if they were not fighters. We are still here through every major war, through falls of civilization such as the Ottoman Empire, Roman Empire, etc.

The notion that he wants to build a “safe haven” and carve out land in the Middle East for Christians is not viable. How has that worked out for Israel? The last time we did that, it caused more tension in the Middle East than ever.

The idea that Chaldeans and Assyrians should stand up and fight back is frustrating. Who will arm them? Do you think the Iraqi government or any other Middle Eastern government would simply allow 250,000 Christians to take up arms in the Middle East? Do you think Iran will be okay that 250,000 Christians just took up arms next to them?

This plan would surely decimate Christians in the Middle East. Give them arms and they will go to war very heavily outnumbered, surrounded by radical groups and governments. No, the fundamentals of our society are based on immigrants, and people are the most important resource a country can have. Refugees are vital contributors to society and it would be wise economically and morally to bring more in and “trap” them in El Cajon.

We must take in refugees. Simply because of who we are. We are the United States of America. We are a nation of morals. We answer the call to those in need. We decided a long time ago that we would not allow evil to defeat this world. If we are to remain the beacon of hope and freedom that our founding fathers created this nation on, we will bring in those in need.

We will not fear, back down, or surrender. We would rather die on our feet than to live on our knees, and this is the true message we, the Chaldean community, wish to spread. That we are all in this together and when our neighbors need us we too will stand with everyone. Simply because hate cannot win. Hate will not win.

  • James Elia
  • East County

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Mr. Kitchen, I won't criticize your attempts at some sort of a rationale for achievement of human kindness. It's just that your history is a tad off. The Berlin Wall was completed in 1961, mainly because the GDR was losing money on the exchange rate from folks legally crossing into West Germany. And the Great Wall was built because Mongolians enjoyed pillaging China proper for economic gain. Neither barrier consistently worked, regardless. But, all barriers built are built on account of the difference in economics from one place to another. It wasn't necessarily the PEOPLE in MOST cases, but the difference in economics. If you don't believe me, just ask Guatemalans why Mexico built their barrier down South.

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