Hugging is not one of the objectives listed in maintaining Goleta’s urban forest, but the draft Urban Forest Management Plan includes a lengthy policy for the city-owned trees.
The Goleta City Council asked staff to address some concerns with the draft before voting to adopt it, even though it’s not necessarily a policy-setting document. Some suggestions were questionable, including authority given to an advisory committee or suggestions involving tree-related ordinances for private land.
“We’re going to have our deputy sheriffs out there writing tickets on tree trimmers? Really?” Roger Aceves, a council member and former police officer, queried Tuesday.
“A tree list and planting standard alone is not going to get you down the road to that vision,” Community Services Director Steve Wagner said, adding that it purposefully doesn’t include all details of tree management since it’s intended to change over time rather than become rigid policy.
Most of the city-owned trees — on streets, public spaces and parks — were planted in the 1960s and 1970s and most likely will die off around the same time, so a plan needs to be in place to maintain the amount of trees, Wagner said.
The City of Goleta is responsible for 9,855 of the city’s 50,000 trees within the city limits, and spends $300,000 per year for trimming, removals, planning, pest and risk management, and sidewalk and street repair.
The city has $175,000 in contracts with private firms for maintenance, and most of the funding coming from Measure A and the General Fund. Nonprofit organizations have planted trees as well, which are maintained by volunteers for two or three years before being transferred to the city’s responsibility.
Goleta Valley Beautiful was a consultant on the management report, and president David Faimer urged the council to adopt the documents. He said that without a plan, the city would find itself without street trees in the future.
Resident Barbara Massey blasted the document, saying it fails to address issues specific to Goleta.
“This may be considered a living document, but it’s dead on arrival,” she said.
The document’s vision statement is as follows: “Goleta’s urban forest is a thriving and sustainable mix of tree species and ages that creates a contiguous and healthy ecosystem that is valued and cared for by the city and all of its citizens as an essential environmental,economic and community asset.”
Council members will revisit the document by the end of June. They approved changes to the city’s strategic plan, which can be viewed by clicking here.