Letter: Tree Davis Position on Sutter Davis Hospital Tree Removal

Sutter Parking Lot Shade Trees 1 – Courtesy Photo

By Greg McPherson

A recent article in the Davis Vanguard (City Will Have to Weigh between Trees and Solar Panels at Sutter as Complaints Reign about Public Process, July 21, 2021) described a variety of issues concerning the Planning Commission’s recent approval to remove 205 trees in association with improvements to the Sutter Davis Hospital campus. Tree Davis appreciates the efforts made by David Greenwald and Alan Hirsch to bring this proposal into the public spotlight. The Tree Davis Board has these thoughts to share.

1) Our tree canopy is under increasing threat from decline due to old age, development, and climate change stressors like drought, wind, and pests. Tree Davis supports increasing measures to protect and preserve healthy trees and to grow our community canopy with climate-ready species.

2) We recognize that in certain circumstances, retaining healthy trees may not be possible. Full mitigation of lost canopy, through planting either on-or off-site should be accomplished, as per our Tree Ordinance.

3) We support retaining mature tree canopy in parking lots when possible because trees can provide environmental and social benefits that PV arrays cannot, such as heat island mitigation, carbon storage, air pollutant uptake, beauty, stress reduction, and wildlife habitat.

4) Tree Davis believes that the Tree Commission’s charter should be updated to include consultation on individual project proposals because of the expertise they can provide. For example, the proposal to transplant 43 mature trees to another location at Sutter Hospital may sound reasonable, but, the benefits may not offset the costs in the long term. The failed effort in Woodland to transplant historic olive trees along Gibson Rd. is an example.

Greg McPherson is President of Tree Davis Board of Directors

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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16 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    “Tree Davis believes that the Tree Commission’s charter should be updated to include consultation on individual project proposals because of the expertise they can provide.”

    So now the Tree Commission should branch out from City trees to all trees?

    1. Don Shor

      The board did not discuss the threshold that would cause Tree Commission review of a project. That would be a council decision and we would likely make policy suggestions when the commission’s charter is reviewed by the council. Trees of significance or historical value, project proposals that would have significant impact on the city’s overall tree canopy (# of trees affected perhaps, or adverse changes to their growing environment), specific proposals for mitigation such as the proposal to move a large number of mature trees such as was suggested in this instance — those are examples of times when the expertise of tree commission members and others could be brought into the discussion.

    2. Alan Miller

      Regulate the trees!

      There is unrest in the forest
      Trouble with the trees
      For the maples want more sunlight
      And the oaks ignore their pleas

      The trouble with the maples
      (And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
      They say the oaks are just too lofty
      And they grab up all the light

      But the oaks can’t help their feelings
      If they like the way they’re made
      And they wonder why the maples
      Can’t be happy in their shade

      There is trouble in the forest
      And the creatures all have fled
      As the maples scream, “Oppression”
      And the oaks just shake their heads

      So the maples formed a union
      And demanded equal rights
      They say, “The oaks are just too greedy
      We will make them give us light”

      Now there’s no more oak oppression
      For they passed a noble law
      And the trees are all kept equal
      By hatchet, axe, and saw

      –Lee, Leifson, Peart
      (mostly Peart)

  2. Ron Oertel

    As mentioned on the Davisite, there’s a GoFundMe effort to cover the cost of an appeal to the council.  Looks like it was successful.

    The reason I’m bringing this up is because there’s a couple of “familiar” names on the list of donors.  🙂

    Give credit where it’s due.

    In regard to the photo, it is more attractive than solar panels, isn’t it.

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-sutter-trees?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer

    1. Alan Miller

      The reason I’m bringing this up is because there’s a couple of “familiar” names on the list of donors

      I added my name to the list, mainly so there would be a quandary as to what to do with the extra $20.

      But really, I like trees, and don’t ever think they should be taken out en masse to put in solar panels.  That’s just stupid.

      1. Ron Oertel

        I added my name to the list, mainly so there would be a quandary as to what to do with the extra $20.

        I see that.

        I think they’re going to use any extra to contribute toward “housing first” efforts.  Or perhaps planting shade trees for the “houseless” to reside under.  I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that. 🙂

        Note how up-to-date I am, regarding terminology. Probably qualifies me as a progressive based on that, alone.

        1. Alan Miller

          Note how up-to-date I am, regarding terminology.

          I’m sure they’ve already changed it again, and what you think is up to date just shows you aren’t hip to the current, secret dog-whistle frequency.

  3. Todd Edelman

    “Saruman… a wizard should know better!

    *****

    The elephant in the emergency room is… why does nearly everyone travel to Sutter Davis (Davis Community Clinic, and the medical offices across John Jones) by private vehicle? Why is so much parking needed? Sure, these facilities don’t just serve Davis, but they’re far from most of the people in Davis. I realize the Davis Community Transit will take people there and also that many employees work long shifts and many patients/customers are not fully ambulatory. Still, perhaps we can get some inspiration from Boulder…. and Detroit!

    In addition to e-bikes… how ’bout better bus service (directly into the complex, and free)? All obviously health- and “Davis”-related!

    1. Bill Marshall

      The elephant in the emergency room is…

      In addition to e-bikes… how ’bout better bus service (directly into the complex, and free)? All obviously health- and “Davis”-related!

      I’ll clue you in Todd… if I or a loved one needs the ER (or even ‘urgent care’), we won’t be using an e-bike or bus.

      If you choose one of those two, go for it!  Just don’t insist on ‘forcing it’ on others…

      For ‘regular’ care we already sometimes use Unitrans, if their schedule matches planned appointment times…

      But, we’re close to a couple of bus stops, and it is still a long ride, by time (transfers)… not something we’d use for other than a routine checkup or routine tests…

  4. Alan Hirsch

    This is a extraordinary statement   by Tree Davis on the Sutter Hospital clear cutting of the 205 parking lot trees. It takes on the situation first described in press by the vanguard.(link),   (asside: Let see if Enterprise reporters catch up).  This decision,  to clear cutting of the Parking lots at Sutter hospital  was approved in two phase 2019 and 2021). by city arborist/city staff.

    – It’s not just that cutting (Phase 1) was done — at best — with token public notice, but the fact it was kept quiet for 25 months by the City Arborist, and others in city staff even as there other discussion at the tree commission – with the Arborist present giving staff support —  about trees in parking lot vs PV, on mitigation for cutting, and rewriting the Tree Protection Ordinance.   The larger  phase I Sutter Cutting  (approved but not yet done) only came out when Sutter ask to cut even more tree for an even  larger solar array in a phase II, and top city management seemed to decide they wouldn’t try  approve this additional (but smaller) cutting via the quiet administrative process like they did the first cutting of 142 Tree. (City staff is now argung how “open” they were because they legally didn’t technically have to go thru planning commission for 2nd phase cutting but did anyway. )

    THE COURAGE: Readers must also remember Tree Davis is a city contractor that is dependent for a significant amount of its operating funds from the city.  When Tree Davis gets state grants it must partner with the city. All this is controlled by the city arborist who they have to work very very closely, often on a daily basis.

    So read the above statement again and remember the Arborist is the same person who approved the initial Sutter tree removals in 2019 and kept it quiet for 25 months.

     

    1. Bill Marshall

      Where were you all when DJUSD did a similar thing at the DHS parking lot?  That was at least another ‘public entity’, where y’all could have spoken out in communications to the board… they may not have ‘clear-cut’, but the outcome for the trees would be the same…

      But, it might have been “for the kids”….

      1. Alan Hirsch

        Bill

        1) I don’t understand your comment?  by “You” do you me as private citizen?  why didn’t you or any of the other 60,000 resident of Davos speak up ahead of time, but it could be (2) below….

        2) DJUSD building and facilities are regulated by state, not City of Davis. I am unaware if they gave any notice to public beside what they reported to the school board of trustee.  I have my hands full doing a review of tree commissoin, planning commission, NRC and city council agenda item as they might effect tree….

    2. Alan Miller

      THE COURAGE: Readers must also remember Tree Davis is a city contractor that is dependent for a significant amount of its operating funds from the city.  When Tree Davis gets state grants it must partner with the city. All this is controlled by the city arborist who they have to work very very closely, often on a daily basis.

      I don’t know the politics of all this — what exactly is your point about this relationship and who had “courage” to do what and why?  A bit too esoteric and inside baseball for those of us looking in from the outside.  Are you saying TD is brave to stand up for this, or committing suicide for their organization?

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