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Safety concerns require replacement of Club trees

by Dennis Vlasich, Board President, The Club HOA

Over the last 2 weeks, there has been discussion in the COURIER about the pine tree mitigation project in the development known as “The Club” (surrounding The Claremont Club on Monte Vista). 

The petition presented to the COURIER by Tonya Bennitt, a homeowner in the association, has 28 signatures, unverified. There are 309 homeowners in The Club HOA, so this represents a very small percentage. 

Since Ms. Bennitt lives in the Vista section of the HOA, the only pine trees near those homes are along Shenandoah and far enough away from their home not to pose a threat. It is the cul-de-sacs in the Single Family section of the HOA where the problems are the worse, threatening streets, driveways and utility boxes. The board, by law, represents all 309 and are elected in 2-year cycles just as the city council is.

Ms. Bennitt was notified by the HOA of the several meetings regarding the trees and the board’s position with respect to the city’s proposal, but no petition was presented or comment made despite its publication on the agendas for all of these meetings.

Nonetheless, the important fact here is that none of the 28 petitioners (to the board’s knowledge) are speaking for those homeowners who are in imminent danger of these 30-year-old, unmaintained trees that are planted too close to utility lines, streets, curbs, sidewalks and driveways breaking the hardscape or the utility lines as dozens have already done over the past 10 years. 

It’s easy to vote to save the trees when it’s not about to fall on your house because the roots have been pruned so close to the trunk that the tree’s stability has been severely compromised. Another storm like the one we had in 2005 will likely bring down most of these trees (as it did a dozen or so back then) and damage homes, cars or worse.

It is the board’s fiduciary responsibility to keep the community safe by taking reasonable precautions to avoid such foreseeable disasters. The board has read the city staff’s recommendation and, contrary to the claims represented by Ms. Bennitt in the article, it does not mean that 59 trees will be cut down. The plan recommends that first, all pine trees get pruned to reduce the foliage that could bring down the top-heavy trees in a storm. Second, it recommends that an arborist assess each tree as to its imminent threat to damage infrastructure and to remove it if root pruning will compromise its health or stability. (As a side note, root pruning is not an acceptable tree maintenance approach according to the Arbor Day Foundation, the agency that gives Claremont its “City of Trees” designation).

The board indicated that of the 110 trees, no more than 59 would fall into this category but that the actual number of trees removed would likely be half that, according to city staff.

The board feels that we need to eliminate the threat of damage to our homes and begin planting the trees for the next generation. For every tree removed, a new one will be planted that is more appropriate for the area, or it will be relocated to a more suitable environment. 

We are confident that the city staff will do everything it can to save the trees, but also help us to keep our community safe and attractive.

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