Council Rejects Hirsch Appeal; Follows Staff on Partial Grant of Sutter Appeal

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Sutter Parking Lot Shade Trees 1 – Courtesy Photo

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – Council largely followed the recommendation of staff on Sutter Place, unanimously rejecting the appeal by Alan Hirsch while following staff’s recommendation on a partial grant of the appeal by Sutter itself.

Following the July 14 Planning Commission approval of the second phase of a project at Sutter Davis that included the installation of 11 solar carport canopies with the removal of an additional 63 trees, both Sutter and citizen Alan Hirsch filed separate appeals.

Hirsch asked the council to overturn the Planning Commission approval and the Tree Modification Permit issued for the removal of 142 trees to implement the first phase of the project.

Following the meeting, Hirsch took solace in a small victory, telling the Vanguard, “That Sutter rejiggers their plans (saving 11 of the  63 trees)—it was a small but significant acknowledgment that city staff work was not the best, and that, more importantly, the community needed to be listened to.”

He pointed out, “Tree advocates failed to get a direct acknowledgment (by) city staff (of a) misstep, of short-changing the commission process.”

Instead, he said, “Council members Lucas (Frerichs) and (Will) Arnold communicated indirectly they understood something is broken.”

He added, “In the end, the city planning process ill-served Sutter, what should have (been) celebration of a hospital expansion was clouded by public controversy that (could have been) easily averted.”

On the other hand, Councilmember Dan Carson believes that the process overall could result in an improvement of tree cover.

By his measure, there were a total of 365 trees on the campus prior to the project, with 205 on-site trees removed.

One hundred forty-two of those would be replaced on campus, but he believes another 1271 can be purchased using the mitigation funds with $184 thousand at the cost of $145 per tree.  Thus a net gain of 1573 trees.

“(The) total number of trees post-project is more than four times the original number,” he claimed.  “The 1271 increase in trees exceeds the 1000 trees that are being added from (a) recent Prop. 68 state grant.”

From this, Carson concluded, “It’s clear that we have a pretty significant expansion of the number of trees in this city based on the mitigation dollars that the applicant will pay.”

Mayor Gloria Partida noted that the council already knew this was something that they had to start looking at.

She said, “I’m happy to hear that we will have a discussion about a change in our policy and I’m glad that Mr. Hirsch brought this forward because as this changes we do need to reassess how we manage how things that are important in this community—and obviously trees are important to us in this community.”

Indeed, she pointed out that when the ordinance was written the city was not thinking along the lines of reducing carbon footprint.  Nor were they thinking about the importance of solar panels and the coexistence of solar panels with the city tree canopy.

“When Sutter started thinking about their planning, it was before this time,” Partida added.

Will Arnold noted, following comments from Roberta Millstein, “The value of trees is greater than their shade.”  He added, “The value of trees is also greater to the city and ecosystem than solar panels.  That’s a clear starting point.”

At the same time, he pointed out, like Gloria Partida, “this is private property.”  He said, “As a general matter, the rights of private property owners will be respected and I don’t presume that we will tell them what to do with their property—provided it still fits within the zoning.”

Councilmember Carson noted how many trees were burned up in the Oregon fires of Labor Day 2020.  One expert estimated in Oregon the number of trees per acre were 347—though Carson acknowledged the number in California could be a fraction of that.

“But even if you assume a much much lower number, this summer, we have lost hundreds of millions of trees if the director of Forestry in Oregon is even remotely correct,” he said.  “It’s not all due to climate change … climate change made it easier for fires to start, made them spread further, made them far more destructive and the best solution that scientific research is telling us is to try to reduce greenhouse emissions.”

He noted that trees have many benefits, “but from the standpoint of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not even close—and what we get from solar panels is that huge beneficial impact immediately.”

He said this “is a race against the clock” and if we don’t (hurry) “hundreds of millions of more trees are going to burn.”

The data he cited showed that the hospital expansion would add 542 tons of CO2 per year, but that would be more than mitigated by the installation of solar panels which would reduce the carbon footprint by more than double—1244 tons.

“This project would reduce twice the amount of GHG emissions that the hospital expansion would add,” he said.  “According to the US EPA, that’s the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from 2,880 barrels of oil annually. EPA also calculates that it is the annual GHG reduction (that) would be equivalent of planting 20,570 tree seedlings and letting them grow for ten years.”

Carson thus reframed the issue: “It’s not an issue of 60 trees versus solar panels.  It’s an issue of what is the best balanced strategy for addressing what (are) the stresses on our environment and on our lifestyle.”

Colin Walsh, who chairs the Tree Commission, told the Vanguard after the meeting, “I am encouraged by the City Council and City staff’s support for an idea I put forward some months ago. There needs to be a criteria set that defines when a project goes before the Tree Commission.”

He added, “I appreciate the work Alan Hirsch did to bring this issue to the forefront. The debate we have had as a result is a healthy one and will likely lead to better city process in the future”

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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46 thoughts on “Council Rejects Hirsch Appeal; Follows Staff on Partial Grant of Sutter Appeal”

  1. Ron Oertel

    saving 11

    Congratulations, he says sarcastically.

    but he believes another 1271 can be purchased . . .  Thus a net gain of 1573 trees.

    And put them – where?

     

  2. Ron Oertel

    Councilmember Carson noted how many trees were burned up in the Oregon fires of Labor Day 2020.

    What an absurd comparison.

    Is regrowth of trees in those areas prevented by the subsequent expansion of a hospital and installation of solar panels?

  3. Richard_McCann

    Unfortunately this is another example of how citizens’ input was cut out of the process despite what appears to be a requirement to gain approval from the City commission designated to advise on the matter. Whether the outcome was the best or not is irrelevant–citizens should be running this City.

    1. Ron Glick

      “Whether the outcome was the best or not is irrelevant–citizens should be running this City.”

      Is this an admission that this entire exercise was  a waste of time?

      I did get an answer to my question about trees vs solar electric when the staff guy from Sutter claimed that the carbon reduction footprint from the panels were equivelent to 1500 acres of trees. If that is true this was a no brainer. It was so obvious that I didn’t bother to call in. I was actually embarrassed for Davis by most of the public comments from the usual suspects.

      1. Tim Keller

        I did get an answer to my question about trees vs solar electric when the staff guy from Sutter claimed that the carbon reduction footprint from the panels were equivelent to 1500 acres of trees. If that is true this was a no brainer.

         

        Totally agree.    Lets let the facts guide us.  I get that people have emotional reactions to things like cutting a tree down, but if we are all on “team earth” then objective measures like this MUST be a guide.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          That’s an important point. While we all like/ love trees and also like/ love the notion of citizen governance, most citizens aren’t doing data studies and backing up their beliefs with hard science. Something that we need to remember.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Whether the outcome was the best or not is irrelevant–citizens should be running this City.

      Interesting comment, many levels…

      Will save lots of money… zero staff, all volunteer citizens.  And we’ll just trust their expertise.  Operated a backhoe lately to repair a water main?   Direct someone who can?

      Are CC members not citizens?  Perhaps we should disband the CC and just go to ‘Town Hall meetings” where the ‘citizens’ can decide and run everything.

      Of course, that results in non-elected folk ‘running the City’, based on the loudest, most activist voices.  Interesting concept.  Has a certain appeal to many.

      What about non-‘citizens’, like students, faculty, etc. here on visa’s?  Undocumented folk have no say?  Now, if you said ‘residents’, we go back to ? #1…

      With total citizen ‘control’ (implied in “running the City”), will good outcomes be irrelevant?  Suppose not, based on the post. It’s about power and the right to use it, right?
       

      1. Tim Keller

        Yeah that comment gave me pause a bit too…  Im all for the city being responsive to its citizens.  But these were not city trees right?  They were on private land.  ( correct me if im wrong)

        If they were sutter’s trees, on sutter’s property, then the fact that the city had any say over the fate of these trees, beyond compliance with zoning and building codes, is actually a little concerning to me from a property rights perspective.

        1. Don Shor

          They were on private land.

          This came up several times. City ordinance tells owners of parking lots what they have to achieve with respect to shading the surface. There is certainly precedent for council and adminstrative governance of how and where trees are planted. The whole landscape design is subject to administrative review. The 50% shading requirement is not actively enforced or achieved in most cases, but it is real.
          When we developed our nursery the city told me what kind of tree we had to plant out front on our property, and where we had to plant it on our property. When a nearby property owner removed a tree, he had to commit to replacing it. Replacing it elsewhere on his property (outside of the city’s easement) was acceptable by the terms of the tree removal permit.
          The notion that this was some kind of property rights issue was fallacious from the outset.

  4. Ron Glick

    “One hundred forty-two of those would be replaced on campus, but he believes another 1271 can be purchased using the mitigation funds with $184 thousand at the cost of $145 per tree.  Thus a net gain of 1573 trees.”

    This assumes zero adminstrative overhead. If you take out the cost of running the program it is far fewer trees.

  5. Don Shor

    The comments by Dan Carson last night, and by Ron Glick, Tim Keller, and David Greenwald on this blog today, illustrate why we are deeply concerned about the fate of trees in Davis.

    We will have to redouble our efforts toward conservation of existing trees, fight hard for a new ordinance that will prevent this kind of travesty from ever happening again, and continue to educate the public and especially our civic leaders about the many benefits of trees that don’t happen to fit on a carbon spreadsheet.

    What Dan said last night, echoed here by Tim, Ron G, and David, would lead to bleak, hot parking lots covered with solar panels and decreasing tree canopy. This isn’t a spreadsheet exercise and it isn’t an “emotional” response.  Comments like this are just insulting:

    most citizens aren’t doing data studies and backing up their beliefs with hard science. Something that we need to remember.

    This was a terrible precedent. I appreciate the efforts of Tree Davis and two of the council members that led to a small number of the trees being conserved on the site. But if we have people who literally are looking at this as a carbon calculation and nothing more, then we have a long way to go on this topic.

    The council members gave great lip service to reworking the tree ordinance, but given this outcome we will be watching that process very carefully.

    1. Mark West

      “This was a terrible precedent.”

      Sheesh…The problem here is the City’s silly ordinance requiring 50% tree canopy coverage of parking lots (not to mention the requirements for excess parking) when the current methods for building parking lots preclude that from working . The trees simply will not get that big, no matter how long we wait. Solar panels are the better solution for providing shade at parking lots. Besides, there are still a few other trees in town (and in the surrounding area) to provide the tree specific benefits.

      I guess some are worried that every tree in town is going to be replaced with a solar panel now…

      1. Don Shor

        the current methods for building parking lots preclude that from working . The trees simply will not get that big, no matter how long we wait. 

        Experts can tell you what works and how to make it happen. The NRC/Tree Commission 2×2 is discussing that issue right now. Some parking lots are achieving the goal, others aren’t, and it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has some training in the subject as to why.

        1. Alan Hirsch

          Don where are these parking lots?   can you send me the pictures?

          Tree like people get stunted if you don’t feed them. compacting soil to reduce air and then paving over their food source stunts them.  we know how to do it right but we are not requiring developer to do it.

          the lorax

        2. Mark West

          Don – maybe one of those four sites you posted has > 50% coverage (upper left) part of the year (none of those trees look like evergreens). The other sites are far from it. Trees simply do not grow well surrounded by asphalt. Claiming otherwise would be willful ignorance.

          We would be far better off if we got rid of parking minimums, thus reducing the total area set aside for parking, and then required that all parking spaces be covered by solar panels with additional land set aside for an adjacent tree covered park (to provide the benefits of the trees). It is simple insanity to try to turn parking lots into mini-forests.

          1. Don Shor

            maybe one of those four sites you posted has > 50% coverage (upper left) part of the year (none of those trees look like evergreens). The other sites are far from it. Trees simply do not grow well surrounded by asphalt. Claiming otherwise would be willful ignorance.

            Yes. That was the point of the picture. It can be done. Trees grow well when they have adequate soil area for rainfall and summer irrigation to penetrate. Open soil areas, or permeable pavers, are part of the standards that need to be implemented to get parking lots to look like the one in the upper left corner.
            There actually are people who know how to do this: how to write standards that are enforceable at plan check, and how to choose species that are suited to the adverse environments of parking lots. Followup arborist evaluation and care has been added to the plan specs of at least a couple of recent parking lot projects in Davis.
            There is no “willful ignorance” nor “simple insanity” involved in integrating plant science and landscape architecture when writing the relevant city code.

          2. Don Shor

            part of the year (none of those trees look like evergreens).

            A primary concern about urban heat island effect is summer ozone levels. That is a byproduct of volatile organic compounds (which increase in high temps) and nitrogen dioxide emitted by vehicles. It has significant health impacts and one of the simplest mitigations is to have trees reduce the heat in summer, sequester the particle matter, and absorb the nitrogen dioxide (as well as sulfur dioxide and others.
            Nitrogen dioxide has serious health impacts and is very effectively removed by trees.
            https://enviroatlas.epa.gov/enviroatlas/DataFactSheets/pdf/ESC/NitrogenDioxideremovedannuallybytreecover.pdf
            Solar panels, of course, don’t remove any of it.
            Winter ozone is, if I recall, more a function of inversions coupled with fine particle matter. Parking lot owners really don’t like evergreen trees in general because of the ongoing litter (this is anecdotal but consistent in the few consultations I’ve done on this topic). But the real focus of tree plantings in parking lots is for their impact on summertime temperatures and pollutants.
            People need to understand the health risks associated with ozone, NO2, and other pollutants, and realize how important urban trees are to reducing those. The reduction in health costs and impacts would be another important data point for the spreadsheet that seems to have been so persuasive to those who favor the solar panels. That analysis is complicated. What was presented wasn’t. It was facile and misleading.

    2. Tim Keller

      Im sincerely interested in hearing more about your rationale here Don.    I DO see it as something that can be calculated, but am interested in being convinced otherwise.

      You posted some arguments on behalf of trees a few weeks ago.  ( at least I think I recall it was you… maybe not )    Some of the factors are likely quantifiable, and others were subjective  If the math were close, then I think that a lot of the factors listed might rightfully enter into the decision matrix.  But from what it looks like, the solar is a hands-down better alternative.

      I did a quick search and found that it indeed does look like solar versus tree has the solar panels winning by a large margin every time.  Here is an analysis from someone in new england which comes to a similar conclusion, though I dont think that he took into account the GHG emissions from manufacturing, transport and installation of the panels..

      https://newenglandcleanenergy.com/energymiser/2015/09/24/tree-math-2-solar-vs-trees-whats-the-carbon-trade-off/

      So… what are we missing?  Im interested to hear.

       

      1. Don Shor

        Cooling effects of trees:
        https://climate-woodlands.extension.org/trees-and-local-temperature/
        “…large parks or tracts of urban trees can cool daytime summer air temperatures by about 10°F (McPherson and Simpson 1995).”
        “Even more dramatically, the temperature difference between shaded and non-shaded ground can be as much as 36°F, based on some studies described below.”
        The cooling effect of trees is a function of both direct shading, which solar panels also provide, but also of their transpiration of water.

        “The consistent finding that the cooling effect from shade and transpiration is most pronounced on summer afternoons indicates that trees near buildings could help reduce energy demands, especially during times of peak demand (McPherson and Simpson 2003). This can be especially important during hot months or during heat waves, as these are the times when electrical power production is most susceptible to large-scale blackouts.”

        Trees significantly reduce fine particle matter from the air and remove gaseous pollutants. Parking lots are especially useful places for this feature as they are removing the pollutants generated by the cars.
        There is reams of data on this that I gathered in my work on the Nishi project.
        Solar panels don’t do either of those things at all.

        From the EPA:
        Benefits and Costs
        The use of trees and vegetation in the urban environment brings benefits beyond mitigating urban heat islands including:
        • Reduced energy use: Trees and vegetation that directly shade buildings decrease demand for air conditioning.
        • Improved air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions: By reducing energy demand, trees and vegetation decrease the production of associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. They also remove air pollutants and store and sequester carbon dioxide.
        • Enhanced stormwater management and water quality: Vegetation reduces runoff and improves water quality by absorbing and filtering rainwater.
        • Reduced pavement maintenance: Tree shade can slow deterioration of street pavement, decreasing the amount of maintenance needed.
        • Improved quality of life: Trees and vegetation provide aesthetic value, habitat for many species, and can reduce noise.

        1. Don Shor

          We know that trees reduce pollution.
          • We have modeling studies that show urban trees can reduce pollution by as much as 16%
          • In a simple experiment in the UK, temporary installation of a roadside barrier of birch trees resulted in > 50% reduction of some forms of particulate matter inside the home. Leading the researchers to conclude that “The efficacy of roadside trees for mitigation of PM health hazard might be seriously underestimated in some current atmospheric models.”
          • In a field study in Sydney, particulate matter was measured over a full year in 11 locations around the city and compared to total tree canopy on each site. There was almost a straight line correlation: higher tree canopy, lower particulate matter, with the highest canopy site (40% covered with trees) testing 42% less particulate matter than the lowest sites.

        2. Mark West

          “large parks or tracts of urban trees can cool daytime summer air temperatures by about 10°F”

          What does this have to do with concrete or asphalt parking lots? Absolutely nothing.

          1. Don Shor

            Don: “large parks or tracts of urban trees can cool daytime summer air temperatures by about 10°F”

            Mark: What does this have to do with concrete or asphalt parking lots? Absolutely nothing.

            A large parking lot with enough healthy trees to provide 50% shading is a “tract of urban trees” and will provide significant local cooling, among the other benefits I have already enumerated. The cooling the trees provide is greater than simply what is provided by direct shading, which reflects the transpiration of water by the leaves.

        3. Tim Keller

          Thanks Don,

          So what I see are a list of the benefits of trees in general.   If I need to put in a solar panel, but that means I have to cut down a tree… and because I feel bad about that, I plant another tree elsewhere, (or perhaps because young trees are not as productive as older ones, I have to plant two of them )  What is wrong with THAT as a guiding principle.    The net numbers of trees is the same.. if not growing.. along with the benefits of those trees… yes?

          If that kind of tradeoff math doesnt work, then why?

          1. Don Shor

            Replacing twenty-year-old trees with one-year-old trees isn’t really effective mitigation, and in fact the mitigation is based on the sizes of the trees that are being removed (dbh, diameter at breast height). As was noted by Will Arnold last night, the trees that failed in the parking lot from when they were planted are not mitigated, even though those failures are a factor in the present lack of 50% shading in summertime. The other councilmembers weren’t willing to implement that as a mitigation in this instance but discussed evaluating it going forward as the new tree ordinance is developed. As Will noted, it creates a perverse incentive when only healthy trees are mitigated.

            The items I provided for you to consider such as removal by trees of fine particle matter and gaseous pollutants can be quantified, since that seemed to be what you and others were interested in (creating a balance sheet for trees vs solar panels). It is very skewed to simply evaluate the carbon balance between trees and solar panels without considering the other measurable benefits they provide (none of which are provided by solar panels). It points out how simplistic the analysis is that was provided last night. There are, of course, more intangible benefits of trees as well, which I’ve listed elsewhere.

        4. Tim Keller

          Thank you Don for going down that road for me.  I think I agree with the point that we need to have “real” alternatives, and even though I do prefer to try to quantify these kinds of questions, you do point out how biased selection of datapoints and comparables can really skew those analyses.   That all makes sense to me.

  6. Ron Glick

    We? We who?

    “What Dan said last night, echoed here by Tim, Ron G, and David, would lead to bleak, hot parking lots covered with solar panels and decreasing tree canopy.”

    Not exactly. Covering parking lots with solar panels is state of the art. You get electricity generation above and shade below keeping both cars and people from heating up. You also keep the pavement from absorbing light and emitting heat thus reducing heat island effects. It also doesn’t take 30 years to get these effects. You get them as soon as installation is complete.

    Now if you were talking about the parking lot between 3rd St and 4th St and E St and F St where the mature Sycamores provide both shade and an aesthetically pleasing environment in an historic downtown it might be one thing but that is hardly the case at Sutter. In fact I opposed building a parking structure on that location in downtown for that exact reason.

    For all this Lorax hoopla you would have thought we were talking about the General Sherman Sequoia gigantea that was recently saved from fire. Or maybe Headwaters Forest. Or maybe some native Valley Oaks or a legacy tree. Or some kind of habitat restoration project. But guess what, we weren’t talking about any of that. We were talking about a bunch of 20 year old saplings that were planted for shade in a parking lot when that was state of the art. The world changed since then but as usual people in Davis want to drag out their craven Dr. Suess fantasies and stick their noses into every decision no matter whether what they want makes any sense ecologically at all.

    1. Don Shor

      You also keep the pavement from absorbing light and emitting heat thus reducing heat island effects.

      Solar panels do not reduce urban heat island effects. Trees do.

  7. Don Shor

    One clarification: the council did require that Sutter landscape their parking lot where the trees are being removed. For some reason, Sutter didn’t even want to have to do that.

    I found Dan Carson’s presentation troubling because much of it was irrelevant to the issue before the council. He went into some detail about the benefits of Sutter’s expansion. That is not in question. They have already removed 140+ trees and are underway on their expansion. He described the benefits of the mitigation funds, but the city will receive a majority of those funds anyway — for the trees that Sutter already removed.
    The benefits of Sutter having a bigger footprint for the services they offer were not an issue here. This solely pertained to the removal of trees to put in solar panels. Nobody questions whether health workers are heroes or whether Sutter does good things for the city and the community.

    Nobody questions that solar panels have benefits. The other locations for solar panels on the site were repeatedly mentioned. Sutter declined to consider one of the locations because it is earmarked for possible future expansion many years or decades down the road. Solar panels can be moved without significant cost to the environment. Removing mature trees has a significant environmental cost which takes many years to repair. The appellant was urging this issue go back before the relevant commission and be discussed more fully.

    Unfortunately, when the next parking lot owner heads to the city to rip out trees and put up solar panels, all they’ll have to do is pull up Dan’s presentation as they make their case, and they’ll know they have willing partners in those proposals on the city council, on the city staff, and evidently among the Vanguard readership.

    That is the problem.

  8. Ron Oertel

    At the same time, he pointed out, like Gloria Partida, “this is private property.”  He said, “As a general matter, the rights of private property owners will be respected and I don’t presume that we will tell them what to do with their property—provided it still fits within the zoning.”

    As noted in the letter from the Tree Commission (and comments above from Don Shor), this is not a “private property” issue.

    Surely there is a problem with our process when a community member is required to go before the Tree Commission to remove a single tree, but a corporation can remove any number of trees – including trees that were required for the approval of a development – without any Tree Commission or community input.

    https://www.davisvanguard.org/2021/09/letter-revision-of-process-for-approval-of-tree-removals-from-commercial-property/

    He noted that trees have many benefits, “but from the standpoint of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not even close—and what we get from solar panels is that huge beneficial impact immediately.”

    Uh, huh.  How does Carson and Partida’s advocacy for DISC fit into this picture?

    From this, Carson concluded, “It’s clear that we have a pretty significant expansion of the number of trees in this city based on the mitigation dollars that the applicant will pay.”

    but he believes another 1271 can be purchased . . . Thus a net gain of 1573 trees.

    Again, where (exactly) are these “net increase” of trees alleged to be planted?

    Sounds very similar to the “mitigation fees for Affordable housing” that never seems to “work out” after-the-fact.

    1. Ron Oertel

      but he believes another 1271 can be purchased . . . Thus a net gain of 1573 trees.

      Unlike the ability to do so with solar panels, I assume that they aren’t going on top of a roof.

      1. Alan Hirsch

        Dan’s  numbers were reductum ad aburdum.

        You can’t plant a tree for $145 unless you don’t expect to care and water it, and you ignore cost of  securing  permission of property owner.

    2. Alan Hirsch

      It was obvious sutter responded to the complaint and put solar in one of the alternative places suggested to save some trees.  this was proposed and planned and sold to council as the compromise.

      TREE vs SOLAR
      If solar is so great, they could  and should add much more, like cover the entire 30 acre north of sutter with trees …and the empty lot behind the hospital/in front of communicar.  They did not to this, this was about saving money  not about maximizing solar benefit.

      this was about three things, location, location and location of the solar panels. .

       

      1. Ron Glick

        Too bad nobody asked why they were only putting in solar for 25% of their electricity needs. Instead the community went down a rabbit hole of Druidism creating a missed opportunity for carbon sequestration.

  9. Bill Marshall

    A primary concern about urban heat island effect is summer ozone levels. That is a byproduct of volatile organic compounds (which increase in high temps) and nitrogen dioxide emitted by vehicles. It has significant health impacts and one of the simplest mitigations is to have trees reduce the heat in summer, sequester the particle matter, and absorb the nitrogen dioxide (as well as sulfur dioxide and others.

    What happens to the ozone, NO2, particulates, carbon (as CO2 or methane), when leaves shed, or trees die, are disposed of?  Is all of that permanently ‘sequestered’ from the environment, air, water, land?  Or do they return to the environment?

    The entire “cycle” is important…

    1. Don Shor

      I’d be happy to describe the environmental fate of those substances, but the relevant point is that their health risks have been mitigated. And that is a local effect right where the trees are growing.

  10. Alan Miller

    DS Said:

    What Dan said last night, echoed here by Tim, Ron G, and David, would lead to bleak, hot parking lots covered with solar panels and decreasing tree canopy. This isn’t a spreadsheet exercise and it isn’t an “emotional” response.  Comments like this are just insulting:

    Quote: “most citizens aren’t doing data studies and backing up their beliefs with hard science. Something that we need to remember.”

    Agree 100%, DS.  I don’t know if it’s insulting so much as showing complete ignorance of reality.  This is putting one’s eggs into the basket of the religious myth of “Scientism”.

    Lets let the facts guide us.

    The Facts”.  There’s a nice joke.

    I get that people have emotional reactions to things like cutting a tree down, but if we are all on “team earth” then objective measures like this MUST be a guide.  While we all like/ love trees and also like/ love the notion of citizen governance, most citizens aren’t doing data studies and backing up their beliefs with hard science.

    Objective measures — like the one’s that fit your preconceived notion of reality.  If we truly are believing that replacing living trees with man-made structures to produce energy is a sane trade-off due to ‘science’, we have truly lost our minds.  More precisely, we have lost our humanity.  There are things that we just know, and replacing air-cleansing, shade-producing living things with energy-making machines is insanity.  This I know, I don’t need a carbon calculation to refute this for some sort of Scientism-ific “proof” to win a Vanguard argument.

    . . . if we have people who literally are looking at this as a carbon calculation and nothing more, then we have a long way to go on this topic.

    Agree 100%, DS.  If we are viewing this as a carbon calculation than let’s take it to its logical (hard science) conclusion:  what entity is causing the carbon increase?   Answer:  mankind.  The solution isn’t solar panels over trees in a carbon calculation; rather, the solution is the elimination of the human race.  That truly would reduce our carbon footprint and allow the planet to heal.  While that may sound like the script to several scifi movies involving evolved A.I., it is, quite literally, the logical extension of the ‘hard science’.  The A.I.’s with no ‘emotional reactions‘, examine the data and come to one conclusion:  The human race is the cause of the carbon increase and must be exterminated.

    That’s what Scientism unchecked by human emotion gets us  🙁   There is more to reality than so-called “science”.

  11. Alan Miller

    We would be far better off if we got rid of parking minimums, thus reducing the total area set aside for parking,

    Have you not read about the people of color who can’t find a place to park legally and are getting their cars towed at enormous expense?  Clearly what we need is an <strong>expansion of parking minimums </strong>in order to address this shortage of legal parking.  The proposed solution of towing cars to legal spots at city expense is not practical if there are no parking spots to move those cars to.      😐

    is actually a little concerning to me from a property rights perspective.

    Not everything on people’s property and is strictly ‘theirs’; there are community issues to balance.  People have widely varying views on where that line is.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Not everything on people’s property and is strictly ‘theirs’; there are community issues to balance.  People have widely varying views on where that line is.

      Reminds me of an old expression… variously attributed to Scottish, Irish, Amish, and “other” traditions/sources… “What is yours is mine, and what is mine is my own.”  That is where the line is often drawn.

      A parallel:  “All the world is mad, except me and thee, and sometimes I’m worried about thee”.

  12. Alan Miller

    While some are focusing on Sutter, the precident is the concern.  The whole idea of solar dominating over trees through some misguided notion of solar superiority over living trees is a sick interpretation of ‘clean energy’.  I’ve been involved with environmental groups (sometimes fighting other environmental groups) to prevent mass big-energy solar plants in the very sensitive desert environments.  “Solar on Rooftops, Not on the Backs of Desert Tortoises”.  It appears we are on the cusp of having the same misguided warped thinking of the environmental benefits of solar on an urban, smaller scale, local, basis.  That’s why we need to do as DS suggests and push quickly for an ordinance to address this issues (hopefully in favor of trees).

    I’m in favor of solar, but let’s use our heads, our hearts and our common sense.

    1. Bill Marshall

      The precedent is also between City owned and/or maintained trees, and those privately planted, maintained by private parties on their own property.  With no public/quasi-public use… we have not quite crossed that line yet, but think about “camel nose in the tent”… so far, part of regulatory approvals… and yet, no indication of where this will go in the next years…

      The precedent of the ‘community’ dictating to ‘individuals’… the question is where the line is drawn… it can be a slippery slope.  Depending who represents the ‘community’.

      In the current issue, we are still on the flatter part of the slope, but my concern is ‘trend-lines’.

      1. Don Shor

        With no public/quasi-public use…think about “camel nose in the tent”…The precedent of the ‘community’ dictating to ‘individuals’… the question is where the line is drawn…

        Well, let’s see.
        When we proposed to build a barn on Fifth Street and open the nursery, the planning staff had 19 different conditions and objections to our project.
        Starting with not wanting to allow us to build a barn at all (overruled by Design Review Commission), to not wanting us to paint it red (we did that later), they:
        Required us to pay to add 3 feet of sidewalk, which we are responsible for.
        Told us what kind of tree to plant, and where.
        Required 10% of our square footage to be landscaped.
        Told us exactly where we could and couldn’t put the building on the lot.
        Told us where we could and couldn’t put our entrance to the building.
        Determined how many parking spaces were required.
        Told us how big our sign could be and where it could go; we later had to get a permit in order to affix a banner to the building and attest that it would not move so it could be defined as a sign rather than as a banner.
        Told us we had to fence in and screen our garbage units at the back of the property.
        We saved time by just having them choose the color of our roofing shingles. No point in submitting something they’d object to, so we just took the color samples to them.
        Those are just the ones I remember.

        If you’re looking for your camel, he crawled into our tent forty years ago and fell asleep.

  13. Ron Glick

    “There are things that we just know, and replacing air-cleansing, shade-producing living things with energy-making machines is insanity.”

    Yes, because:

    Energy is not made or destroyed.

    First Law of Thermodynamics

    Julius Robert von Mayer, 1841.

    Also Photovoltaics are not machines. They have no moving parts, axles, inclined planes, levers or pulleys.
    Photovoltaics convert light energy to electrical energy and heat. But the heat energy is reduced by the conversion of light to electric thus cooling the environment directly below the panels where the cars and people can be found.

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