“HAND needs to get with the times. European birch trees are great in humid continental Europe. Here in Portland it makes no sense to stick by a guideline that was adopted 25 years ago to preserve a nuisance tree that requires extra irrigation in the summertime. It makes way more ecologic (and aesthetic) sense to plant xeric plants to withstand the droughts that we undergo during the three months of the year when it does not rain. I say take out the gloomy birches and allow people to plant ‘sensible’ street trees.” —Keith Nevison
“Monoculture is a bad thing. If the streets have a mix of species, problems like Dutch elm disease don’t decimate whole city blocks.… Anyone who would think birches were good street trees is tripping. Besides the problems mentioned, aphids also like to infest them in the warm season and the trees drip honeydew on people and cars.” —xtinA
“There are situations where tree diversity makes sense and others when it doesn’t. In a forest, diversity is important. Where street trees along short streets are being used to articulate a formal street plan, as they have been since the inception of Ladd’s Addition, diversity undermines the objective. For example: It would make no sense to plant evergreens and maples among the cherry trees in the Washington Mall (or along the waterfront downtown…).
The street trees are in a public right of way and subject to city regulation. These are not private gardens. No one has an absolute right to select a particular species for the right of way. In the case of Ladd’s Addition, the regulations have been clear for 25 years.
If birches are a poor choice of street tree, the way to fix the problem is to designate a new tree for the street. It is not for every property owner to take matters into her own hands and make decisions based on dubious authority…. It makes me sick to see a self-centered property owner, newly arrived in the neighborhood, dump on dedicated volunteers who have spent countless hours in support of a vision. That vision—historic preservation, street tree plan, controlled traffic—has seen property values in Ladd’s Addition more than quadruple over the past 25 years.” —PLI
“As a neighbor of the house in question, I went through the same thing when I tried to plant a maple tree on the same street. Ms. Brodie’s landscapers did their homework better than I did, though, and obtained a permit for non-birch trees. Seems strange to renege on that permission, now that it’s been granted. I spoke to the landscapers and they had some solid, non-aesthetic reasons for planting those trees, not the least of which was to not give parasites/beetles a perfect straight line of their favorite food. A little bit more tact from the folks at HAND and Save Our Elms would go a long way.” —PDXGeoff
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