I was born the year Burbank’s City Hall was new. Even longtime residents forget the city’s landscape history, its early years as flat farmland followed by large floor-space aircraft factories and tract homes on gridded streets.
In other words, a landscape studded by a few trees. The city’s intolerant government “intends” — as it has in so many other instances recently — to remove dozens of Aleppo pines, according to Gavin Quinton’s July 24 Burbank Leader story.
These century-old Aleppo pines have survived droughts and incessant downpours of extraordinarily rainy winters, even winters far worse than the city’s 2023 precipitation regime. Burbank is hardly likely to become the rainy dystopia depicted in “Blade Runner” (1982)!
However, within the lifetime of property owners (their children and grandchildren, too) natural and anthropogenic climate regime change will likely alter the familiar vegetational landscape we experience daily. Indeed, professional and seasoned geographers project that Burbank’s future climate will come to resemble that of northern Mexico’s hot deserts.
Therefore, wind-induced treefalls are possibly a declining threat, the deep roots of still maturing Aleppo pines will draw groundwater for sustenance. Is it possible for the city’s leadership to obtain more opinions, especially from qualified arborists not already committed to costly and visually devastating saw-down schemes?
Post-World War II, Burbank lost its spectacular California pepper trees and many of its Carolina cherry trees to the toxic depredations of aerial smog. This assault by the city on our handsome Aleppo pines seems mindless, uninspired by practical planning. It is sort of poetic that the unseen (nature) takes down the prideful (so-called leaders) wishing to always be seen!
City spokespersons — honestly speaking, only the professional politicians and their favored, selected shameless bureaucrats, all religiously clamped in a vise of ignorance — seem to still see themselves during this economic crisis period as glittering stars in our taxpaying future firmament. In reality, of course, they are errant as(s)teroids cratering our city’s economic fabric and beautiful tree landscapes.
Richard B. Cathcart
First published in the July 29 print issue of the Burbank Leader.