Love where you live!
LA MESA -- Next to a beloved pet lying lifeless in the road, there may not be anything quite as depressing as a stump where a majestic tree canopy once soared.
Such is the grimacing going on these days as residents walk the beloved La Mesa Boulevard.
For example the massive, living awning that stood outside Cosmos Coffee Cafe is now a flattened remnant, awaiting its root removal.
"It was more than a tree,'' Ari Bejar, Cosmos' proprietor said. "It was really my store's signature.''
This tree, like many along the avenue, had to come down because its roots were damaging the street and because the new streetscape plan required it.
Bejar has been promised two new trees in the design of the streetscape improvement that is underway, and he is hoping they won't be small, starter trees the city installs.
But the streetscape improvement may test Bejar's tree patience.
Greg Humora, the chief administrator for the city's streetscape project, looks like a coach coaxing a team through a difficult first half these days. While some merchants are kvetching about the disruptions and detours, Humora is reminding all that the project is on time.
Workers are pushing hard to clear the street for Octoberfest before resuming work again soon after that beer and brat event.
"We are on schedule,'' Humora said. "We're having to deal with finding things underground that aren't where we thought they were, but we're dealing with it. We're working hard.''
And the trees? Can we bring in some older, more mature ones for his heavily traveled boulevard?
Humora grimaces a bit on that question. The truth about trees, he said, is that you can pay a lot of money for bigger trees, but they have often sat in the nurseries, their root balls binding, their upper branches being "topped" repeatedly.
"What you end up with is a tree that looks better at the start, but 18 months in you find out you have a bad one and it doesn't work out,'' he said. "It's growth has been stunted.''
Rather, he said, you get the best young tree you can find, put it in the right kind of ground and water it properly and two or three years down the line, you've grown beyond the bigger trees and it is healthier.
Humora can sound a bit like a parent teaching their off-spring the middle class virtue of delayed gratification.
"With trees, you have to be in it for the long run,'' Humora said.
The economist John Maynard Keynes once famously said "In the long run, we're all dead.'' Keynes was speaking in defense of government intervention in the economy, but it is clear that the final estimation of this streetscape project may rise or fall with this government's handling of its trees.
Humora points out that errors of the past -- putting the trees in parking spaces and not having a watering plan -- will be avoided. The space left underground for roots will be better and the type of tree will be appropriate for the location and conditions. The city has hired an arborist to pick the right trees and help them grow.
But on the question of the initial size, Humora said only "We will get the best trees available at the time.''
It is clear, he isn't going out on a limb on this one.