Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A reminder. Tonight in the City of Lake Worth is a City Commission Work Session, open to the public.

And for all of you still recovering from last week’s regular Commission meeting this one tonight will be, or should be, very low key. No votes or official action is taken at a Work Session so grandstanding is much less likely. Or should be.

Learn more about the public meeting tonight a little later. What follows is a blog post from last Sunday about. . .

Everybody loves shade trees. And in South Florida everybody loves shade in the daytime too. But. . .

“Choosing the right tree for the right place can greatly reduce many serious problems such as cracked sidewalks, clogged sewers and drains, disrupted utility service, and maintenance expenses.”

Quote. Proposed Thoroughfare Design Guidelines to be presented to the Lake Worth City Commission on Tuesday, October 23rd.

Continue reading to learn more about this public meeting tomorrow.

And cities such as the coastal City of Lake Worth
are still grappling with public policy.

The major question being the cost of shade in an urban environment and balanced with public safety. Risks in Hurricane Season, keeping the streets clear of fallen trees for emergency services and the delivery of essential services such as clean water and electricity.

Tree roots can put water lines at risk of damage and hinder maintenance. As Hurricane Michael reminded everyone, trees fall on roads and tree limbs take out electric lines too.

And for more information about trees
in an urban environment. . .

Just so happens tonight at Lake Worth City Hall is a Work Session on two items: “Thoroughfare Design Guidelines” and “Historic Preservation Guidelines”. Learn more about this meeting below.

And also below is another “Clarion call”, a warning about one tree in particular. The invasive and dangerous Australian pine.

On the issue of trees no doubt many of you heard about the kerfuffle at City Hall last week, last Tuesday’s City Commission meeting to address Ordinance 2018-15 which turned into a complete mess. To read all about that click on this link.

Item 12B last Tuesday under New Business was the proposed ordinance:

First Reading - Amending Chapter 23 “Land Development Regulations” Section 23.6-1, “Landscape Regulations”.

Briefly, the problem was this agenda item should never have gotten on the agenda in the first place. This should have gone to a scheduled City Workshop first and then sent to the City Commission for later consideration at First Reading. The vote was against moving Ordinance 2018-15 forward. What will happen now? Probably to a Workshop. Which would have likely been the recommendation from the City Commission had they been asked how to proceed as the entire elected body many weeks and months ago.

However, the good news is our elected officials, City staff and volunteer board members will be getting some very good direction about trees next tonight at a Commission Work Session. To download all this information click on this link and look for “October 23 Work Session”.

The proposed Historic Preservation Guidelines has information on “Landscape and Site” and “Hurricane Protection” as well.

While it is true that most of Lake Worth’s historic structures have survived more hurricanes than the majority of residents have experienced, they are still susceptible to the powerful forces of these storm events. . . . [T]here are appropriate and inappropriate ways to shelter a historic structure from an approaching storm.

Hurricane Matthew provided a lot more lessons about trees and hurricanes and so did a hurricane last year, Hurricane Irma; as noted on this blog about shade trees:

“[M]ost of the damage during the recent storm was done by falling trees and tree branches. But with few exceptions, palms were not the problem. Hardwood trees were.”

On this topic there is a wealth of information in the Thoroughfare Design Guidelines to be discussed next Tuesday at the City Commission. First, some definitions:

NATIVE: A plant, indigenous to Florida prior to European contact, that lives or grows naturally in this climate of South Florida without direct or indirect human intervention.

PERVIOUS SURFACE: Any surface that is capable of being penetrated by water. Semi-pervious material may include but is not limited to pervious pavers, pervious concrete, grasscrete, and substantially similar materials.

XERISCAPE: A type of landscaping utilizing native plants and ground cover and needs little maintenance. Landscaping should be limited in size and ensure not to create hiding places for potential crime. New landscaping should reflect the existing types of trees and shrubs currently in the area.

More information from the guidelines:

Each species included in the plant palette was selected based on the following: Florida native; size when mature; and unique characteristics, ornamental traits (i.e. flowering color, shade, crown shape, etc.). . . . [T]he urban landscape is really tough on trees, either due to constrained/damaged root systems, adverse interactions with utility equipment, etc. and so not all trees will thrive in this type of environment.

Therefore, it is important to consider the following components when selecting and placing trees, in order to ensure that the right tree is selected for the right place: 1) site attributes above and below ground; 2) potential site modifications; 3) tree maintenance and management capabilities; and 4) desirable tree attributes. Choosing the right tree for the right place can greatly reduce many serious problems such as cracked sidewalks, clogged sewers and drains, disrupted utility service, and maintenance expenses.

If the topic of trees, shade, hurricane protection and public safety are important to you show up at the City Commission Work Session and make your voice heard tonight at 6:00.

Now to a blog post first published in June 2015. Is was called a ‘Clarion call’, a warning about the Australian pine (and other similar non-native, invasive trees) that have gotten taller and taller every year.

Without further ado. . .

The Australian pine isn’t the only tree that’s a public safety hazard in a hurricane or major storm but it is one of the most dangerous. The following comes from the Lake Worth file, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up”.

In June of 2015 a resident of Lake Worth who lives on the outskirts of the City, as far away as you can get without falling into Lake Osborne, came to the defense of her precious invasive Australian pine before the City’s Tree Board (see images below).

The Australian pine is a dangerous and nasty tree in South Florida and especially so the taller it gets. It can snap, or shear off, in high wind conditions and be a danger to people, structures, utility lines and if it falls on a roadway emergency vehicles can be impeded from coming to the aid of the public.

Hard to believe, but true, to make matters even worse surrounding each tree is what’s described as a ‘death zone’. The needles are toxic and kill almost anything nearby stealing habitat from song birds and the threatened Gopher tortoise as well, a reptile native to this region in South Florida.

Despite all this information the City resident defended that position to save that invasive Australian pine. But the City’s Tree Board disagreed and quite forcefully.

Click on images to enlarge:

First page from the minutes of the Tree Board meeting in June 2015.

And more information. . .

Note that Australian pines are “one of the 3 worst” trees to Florida’s wildlife habitat. One of those affected species is our native Gopher tortoise.

In conclusion, some very good news. . .

The Tree Board defended the City’s position on the Australian pine.

They also made recommendations going forward dealing with invasive trees that pose a danger to the public and environment. One of those recommendations was this: If you have an Australian pine, or if there is one nearby on public or private property, please get involved and look for ways to have it removed as soon as possible.

A good place to start would be contacting your elected officials. Please be nice and respectful.

Your elected officials — the mayor and each of the commissioners — are all people who genuinely care and want to help you.