First, I love my neighbors – most of the time and as a group. And as a group you could hardly find a more environmentally concerned bunch – until it comes to planting trees in front of their homes. (So okay, technically it's NIMFYism or maybe NIMROWism for "Not in my right-of-way".)
- "While I like trees as much as the next person, I don't think more trees is always better."
- Objections to shade trees altogether ("We have SO little sun!")
- "Sweetgums drop the spiky balls that are lethal to bare feet"
- Concerns that with more trees, cars won't see kids playing.
Turns out there are plenty of unconflicted treehuggers on the street, but they're expressing their tree enthusiasm in person, not stirring the pot on the old listserv. Smart neighbors.
The greater good at stake here includes a slew of benefits, starting with the cooling effect that trees have on our homes. And the land to be planted on is city-owned (the right-of-way). Nonetheless, the city is allowing people to opt out and decline to have trees planted in front of their homes.
As surprised as I was by the number of anti-tree emails, I've gotta say I'd feel pretty conflicted myself if monumental trees were slated for MY right-of-way. (It's true – we have SO little sun!) But because my right-of-way is already full to bursting with plants, including two small trees, I'm exempt. Whew.
Should Homeowners be allowed to Opt Out?
The scuttlebutt is that while homeowners now have the option to decline new trees, the city may soon eliminate that option. It's public land, after all, and trees benefit us all (though gardeners, admittedly less so). But readers, what do YOU think? When your Environmentalist Self battles your Gardener Self and your Personal Freedom Self, who wins?
More about the Site
Here's a photo of the right-of-way that includes my own, filled with perennials and Yoshino cherries. It's only 43 inches wide, and on the other side – with power lines and scheduled to get crabapples – it's only 41 inches. The houses average 25-30 feet from the sidewalk and the back yards are blessed with many mature trees. So shady back yards are common in this heavily treed old neighborhood.