Thursday, December 11, 2008

HELP WANTED: Tree-Sitter

On Tuesday night, G&L Realty was given permission to commit unspeakable acts upon the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial campus. Indeed, MayorDude Ferry, Councilmember Ender, and Mayor Pro-Tem Weste gave the nod to a development agreement that will turn our community hospital into a cash cow for G&L Realty with three massive medical office buildings, 5-story parking structures and helipads. Destroying the integrity of whole neighborhoods for private profit will be bad enough. But murdering trees to make way for office buildings and parking structures, even our much-beloved Community Holiday Tree, is one step too far. Something must be done.

David Gauny of SmartGrowthSCV has mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit to halt construction. While I’m sure he and his group will have an excellent case if/when they proceed, a victory is far from assured. G&L Realty has ample resources and a major financial incentive for over-building the campus. If it becomes a battle of resources, we can’t expect a fair match.

Thus, a contingency plan is required. I am pulling a page out of the SCOPE playbook. Do you remember John Quigley from the winter of 2002/2003? He’s the guy who sat in Old Glory, a massive oak tree that a developer wanted to bulldoze to make way for a road widening[1]. Well, if he was willing to take a stand then, I hope someone in Santa Clarita will be willing to take a stand now. Yes, it’s time to make a stand for the trees by having a sit in them...

HELP WANTED!: Now Seeking Applicants for Tree Sitter Position

Description. Do you like the outdoors? Are you interested in defending the helpless? Does the idea of living in a large tree excite you? If so, consider a career in tree sitting. Primary duty is sitting for long periods of time (months to years) on a 4' x 8' plywood board chained to the Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) in front of HMNMH and known as the "Community Holiday Tree". This will stop said tree from being cut down for construction of a subterranean parking structure. Other tasks include giving interviews to local media and evading police and other authorities that attempt to forcibly remove sitter from tree. Positions sitting in other trees to be removed for road expansion, etc... will be considered if we find sufficient interest.

Qualifications. The ideal applicant should be strongly committed to preservation of our Community Holiday Tree/opposed to the HMNMH expansion as approved earlier this December. Leaving the tree is never permitted for the duration of the position, which may be several years. Affinity for piney scent a plus.

Compensation & Perks.
*Starting salary is $15/month with negotiable 10% raise after 3-month evaluation
*Sitter may accept all food, blankets, toilet paper, buckets with elaborate pulley systems, and other gifts for which he/she is able to grovel from members of the community
*Free Christmas decorations

For More Information. Please email IHeartSCV with “Tree Sitter” in subject line. Thank you for your interest.

Realistically, I'm not 100% certain that we will be able to fill this position despite its inherent glamor and importance. This would mean that, in several years, the Community Holiday Tree will have a date with a chainsaw and wood-chipper. Obviously, this would cause some community dissatisfaction, if not outcry. Apart from the very real death of our beloved tree, the felling would/will be a profoundly disturbing gesture: destroying a beautiful symbol of the community to build something that makes more money. This would be very bad P.R., so I suspect foul-play would occur first. Someone would poison the tree or introduce a disease and say "The tree is unhealthy and would have to be removed anyways." Alternatively, forces for HMNMH could stage the cutting down of the tree by some nameless vandal. Or it would be cut down in the dead of night with nary a witness in sight.

No matter what, then, we should be on the look-out for our community tree. How it gets treated is how we Claritans will be treated. As goes the tree, so goes SCV.

[1]Here's one exciting artcle from the LA Times to refresh your memory.

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