News & Opinion » Letters & Guest Essays

Letters for the Week of July 29, 2015

Readers sound off on water rights, housing, and the eucalyptus debate.


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Incompetence Reigns

The article states, "In the case of Oakland, part of the problem apparently can be chalked up to incompetence." That's the name of the game in Oakland with regard to so many civic issues. The degree of incompetence, and the overall toleration of it, is beyond comprehension.

Hobart Johnson, Oakland

"Hug a Greek Today," Raising the Bar, 7/15

Greece Is Being Treated Like Detroit

Thanks for this great analysis. Just like Detroit, Greece is being forced to sell off its national assets, such as its ports, in the name of "fiscal responsibility." This is part of the experiment to see how far the anti-democratic forces of hyper-capitalism can take this austerity experiment to enrich themselves.

Lisa Lindsley, Gardiner, New York

"Breakfast of Champions," Food, 7/15

Expectations Have Been Met

Fabulous review. I am a local and am very happy with Sequoia Diner. There was much buzz about this place in the neighborhood before they opened up and I wondered if they could meet expectations. They definitely have. The home fries are unsurpassed.

Mike Lumish, Oakland

Superhighways in the Sky," Feature, 6/24

Planes Are Too Low

Out here in Oakland off Park Boulevard between Lake Merritt and Highway 580, every time the sky is overcast or it is raining or the ceiling is low, aircraft of all sizes fly very low — about two to three thousand feet — on approach to San Francisco International Airport. Through the clouds, I have seen Boeing 747s and other "heavies" flying right over me, my building and/or my neighborhood, which is rather densely populated.

Taller buildings in the neighborhoods and the two towers of the federal building in downtown Oakland now sport new marker lights, most likely imposed by FAA regulations. During heavy traffic, when flights arrive from Europe in the afternoon and from Asia later in the day, aircraft are following each other within minutes. All these flights are inbound to SFO lining up with one of the two runways for landing. I must say it is rather disturbing in the evening and dangerous. Any of these planes could hit a rooftop with their landing gears out. I cannot imagine the destruction and the deaths it would bring. Did I mention I live in the penthouse?!?

J.J. Lasne, Oakland

"Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate," Eco Watch, 6/24

All the Eucalyptus Should Be Cut Down

Eucalyptus trees are fine in Australia, but they are blight on the landscape of California. It is too bad that misguided folks derailed the removal of this invasive non-native from the East Bay hills. We would be safer, more bio-diverse, and aesthetically better off without them. It is great to see how oak, madrone, and bay trees have flourished in some locations where eucalyptus has been removed in Tilden Park.

That said, tree removal needs to be followed up with planting of natives to prevent other non-native species, such as broom and thistle, from moving into the vacuum created by removing trees.

Dan Seamans, Berkeley

You Missed Some Facts

Reporter Sophie Ho does an admirable job trying to cover both sides of a big, contentious issue. But it's important for readers and residents to know much information was omitted:

1. The scale of the "vegetation management" is massive. Approximately 450,000 trees cut down is the biggest San Francisco Bay Area deforestation in one hundred years.

2. The hills will not be safer in a fire because, defying logic, all the trees cut down won't be removed from the hillsides. Chopped into logs and wood chips, they will be left on the ground to burn in a future fire. Crown fire risk may be diminished, but swapped for increasing ground fuels (dead wood on the ground).

3. Fire science has established that trees of all species, including eucalyptus are fire-resistant because all species of trees contain large amounts of water. (Ever try to burn a green log in your fireplace?) Eucalyptus, like all tree species, is less flammable than dry grasses and shrubs.

4. A professional firefighter wrote a detailed, blistering critique of the deforestation plan. He served on the 1991 mayor's task force to determine the actual causes of the 1991 fire. Contrary to common belief, eucalyptus trees were not the cause and burned no more readily than "native" oak and bay trees.

5. There will be no replanting of any kind. With the forest canopy destroyed, the truly "invasive" plants like poison oak, thistle, and broom will grow, then dry out in hot, direct summer/autumn sun — and become a fire hazard.

6. Eucalyptus are not more "flammable" than "native" bay laurels, which also contain volatile oils in their leaves (hold a bay leaf over a lit stove and see). And bay trees grow closer to the ground than blue gums, so they ignite more readily in grass fires. But the big "eucalyptus are flammable" lie is repeated because fear advances the actual agenda.

7. Species eradication, not fire danger mitigation is driving the destruction of Monterey pines, acacia, and eucalyptus trees, even if this means hundreds of thousands of trees.

8. The plan ignores climate science and carbon sequestration — millions of pounds of carbon is sequestered in 450,000 trees. No mention is made of deforestation's effect on the local Bay Area climate. Common sense alone tells us that cutting down more than 2,000 acres of forest canopy will allow direct sun to heat the land.