Trees dangerous, and block views
December 21, 2010 · Updated 3:49 PM
On Dec. 7 the Coupeville Planning Commission met and discussed the draft Tree Protection Ordinance in Coupeville, which requires a 30 percent tree canopy. I am concerned about that requirement. As recent events have shown, trees can be hazardous in wind and rain storms. The news is full of stories about people who lost their lives or homes due to trees falling. During my lifetime, my parents had a tree fall on their Coupeville house, and I have had to twice pay thousands of dollars for tree roots getting into my sewer and water lines.
Trees are especially hazardous when grown in areas with overhead power lines and underground utilities. Trees with shallow roots have a tendency to die in droughts and to fall in storms; those with deep roots damage sewer and water lines, sidewalks and house foundations. Coupeville has many old water and sewer lines that would be susceptible to this type of tree root damage.
A dead tree on the town of Coupeville property next to my house sways in every strong storm, dropping tree limbs. If Coupeville is going to be planting more trees, it should also include a requirement that Coupeville maintain the trees that it plants, so that adjacent homeowners don’t have to deal with the risks and expense of the trees.
I agree that we need wildlife habitat and water protections, but it would be better to encourage planting shrubs that provide much of the environmental advantages of trees, such as slowing and filtering storm water runoff, without the substantial risks and costs to maintain. Also, trees block views. Coupeville is famous for its views. Most people who live in Coupeville love the view of Penn Cove and Mount Baker. If we get enough trees to hide the views from visitors, our tourist income will be reduced and the views that many of us love will be gone.