Retorts: Getting your “greens” is healthy

THIS ISN”T QUITE what it look like, but the City of Garden Grove has a grant to plant 350 trees along a planned pedestrian/bike path on the route of the old Pacific Electric right-of-way from Nelson Street to Brookhurst Street (Flickr/Aetherspoon).

Editor’s note: This is in response to some online criticism of a planned tree-lined bikeway and pedestrian path in Garden Grove

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but right up here in the Top Five should be trees. Come to think of it, dogs are rather ardent admirers of trees, too.

Today’s topic is our leafy buddies because Garden Grove is about to get a forest-full of them. The Big Strawberry has grants to turn the stretch of the old Pacific Electric right-of-way – a dusty, empty scar – from Nelson Street northwest to Brookhurst Street into a landscaped pedestrian and bicycling path shaded by 350 or so trees of various denominations.

You’d think this would be a slam-dunk. Who doesn’t love trees, and who doesn’t regret that the old ROW has been an ugly waste of good space for about 40 years?

Ah, but just as “no good deed goes unpunished,” so does no good idea goes un-criticized.

Some folks are complaining that such a path would create a haven for the nasty homeless. These tend to be the same PG-rated (perpetually grumpy) people who said the same thing about SteelCraft and the Garden Brook Senior Village (the “rusty skeleton,” now back under construction).

I’ve been around for a while and I’ve heard the same sort of applesauce about nearly every new undertaking in town since Moses was in middle school. I’ve been told:

  • “No one ever goes to the Home Depot.”
  • “Who’s going to ever pay $600,000 for a house in Garden Grove?”
  • “Who would want to stay in a hotel in Garden Grove?”
  • “There will never be an Outback restaurant or a movie complex in this city.”

While satisfaction and disappointment in this life are just about 50-50, I believe you accomplish more by being an optimist than a pessimist.

Now, philosophy aside, I have other reasons to welcome this new green stretch. It will add acres of parkland to a community starved for such. It has the potential to beautify the area to the extent it improves both property values and the quality of life.

Trees help clean the air and create oxygen, as much as nearly 260 pounds of oxygen a year, depending on the size, type and age of the tree. Trees support kids climbing them and bear the weight of old tires suspended from a stout branch.

They offer shade and a place for friends and lovers to rest. They muffle traffic noise and a respite from a too-hot day. Trees can be homes for squirrels and birds and such. I don’t believe that coyotes can nest in them.

The house we live in now in Garden Grove is blessed with a ring of mature trees. The house I grew up in had its own “forest” of fruit trees, towering eucalyptus and sturdy pines. We kept the town’s history alive with a few orange trees.

I spent many hours perched in the canopy of our apricot tree which furnished more privacy and opportunities for reflection than it did apricots. Many of my best ideas – and some of my worst – were hatched about 15 feet above ground. At the very least it was better than being hypnotized by the TV set or – today – the video game console.

Much of the world is trying to “go green” to save our endangered environment. Charity may begin at home, and so does shade, beauty and solace, if we want them.


Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column is posted on alternate weeks, usually on Wednesday.



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