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Piece of Mind: Long lives amid old oaks

July 28, 2010|By Carol Cormaci

It seems my sweet husband and I stand a good chance of becoming a little older than our teeth one day. So do other residents of our city, ranked this week as the No. 1 community in the county in terms of life expectancy.

Reporter Megan O'Neil has the full story for us in this week's paper — and we posted it online Tuesday— so no need to go into great detail here. Just suffice it to say I am wondering how close we'll get to the current La Cañada Flintridge lifespan projection of 87.8 years. It turns out our 25-year-old daughter is wondering the same thing, only for different reasons.

I e-mailed her a copy of the report, titled "Life Expectancy in Los Angeles County," prepared by the Office of Health Assessment and Epidemiology, thinking she'd be impressed and maybe even glad her hometown shows such promise for those hoping for darn-near eternal life. Her reply: "Nuts! I'll have to pay for your nursing home for longer!" 

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Age didn't save a city ordinance-protected California oak last week. A property owner in the 800 block of Berkshire Avenue cut one down on July 21, reportedly without getting permission from the city. We were tipped off to the loss by a local equestrian who says the deed was easily visible from the trail that runs behind the lot in question. Our tipster suggested we should let people know what to do if they see someone cutting one of our protected California oak, sycamore, deodar cedar, Chinese elm or California pepper trees.

I called City Manager Mark Alexander and spoke to him about the lost tree. (By the way, Alexander himself has been unfairly vilified by some for recent city recommendations to remove old oak trees in the city's right-of-way, but he has no desire to see protected trees be turned into firewood unless the city has been assured by experts that they are hazardous to the public.)

Alexander looked into the Berkshire situation for us and confirmed city staff was investigating why the tree was removed. He said that when an incident like this takes place, the standard procedure is that the property owner is required to pay (even if the deed has already been done) for the tree removal permit, a fine of $100 to $200, and pay either to replace the tree on his own lot or pay the sum equivalent to the value of the lost tree into the city's tree replacement fund. The tab can get large if the tree that was removed was a heritage oak, for example, worth thousands of dollars.

If you see a protected tree being hacked down, or get wind that such a removal might take place illegally, Alexander says the city would appreciate a phone call: (818) 790-8880.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. E-mail her at ccormaci@valleysun.net.

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