In which I experience rejection

and don't feel all that bad about it.

That electric red spray-painted "No" practically radiates rejection. Nada. Nyet. Nein. Fuggetaboutit. Or as the French would say, "Pardonnez-moi monsieur, mais non."


I'm pretty sure this means the utility company (Pacific Gas and Electric) has rejected our application for a street tree planting. (The application actually goes to Friends of the Urban Forest, but PG&E has approval powers.)

The only square I have available in the sidewalk in front of my house is too close to the gas line and the electrical utility pole for a tree. I thought that might be the case, but I figured I'd give it a shot anyway. Perhaps you can see for yourself why this was never going to work.


Why am I not sad? I was starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing.

First of all, I wasn't thrilled with the tree choices. I had six evergreens and three (or four) deciduous trees to chose from. (Why isn't there a noun for deciduous?)

Evergreens: Arbutus 'Marina', Tristania laurina, Eriobotrya deflexa, Callistemon viminalis, Melaleuca linariifolia, Magnolia grandiflora.

Deciduous trees: Crataegus phaenopyrum, Pyrus calleryana 'Aristocrat' or 'Chanticleer', Liquidambar straciflua.

Tristania laurina is nice, but rather dull.

Eriobotryae grow everywhere in this neighborhood. I'm tired of them, and I think it's too windy in front of our house for this tree.

I don't like Callistemon or Melaleuca that much. At least the Callistemon would stay small, but every successful Melaleuca around here is too successful. They all look like they're about to burst out of the sidewalk. And the crowns are really heavy. Once that tree got going, I'd have to pay for an arborist once a year.

I love Southern Magnolia but, again, I'm not sure about the wind. There aren't enough Magnolias in my neighborhood on which I can base a sound decision. In fact, I can't think of a single one.

Arbutus 'Marina' is a fine tree, but ultimately I wanted something deciduous that wouldn't shade the front of my house in wintertime. But if I was going with an evergreen, that would be my pick.

The Crataegus intrigues me. I like those small red flowers. But the one around the corner gets sooty mold (or something that looks like sooty mold) during part of the year, and I don't think I want that in front of my house.

I've never heard anyone say anything nice about pear trees. And the calleryana is the Bartlett pear, right? Is there a more widely despised tree?

Liquidambar stryaciflua is okay, but it gets too big. They say 30-45' on the mailer, but I think 60' is more like it.

What was I hoping to get? Aesculus x carnea. 30' tall, nice red flowers in earliest spring, deciduous. What could be better than that?

I was also having second thoughts about the commitment. You really commit to your tree once it goes in. If it doesn't work out for some reason, you're on the hook to make it work out. I'm a little reluctant to invite the City of San Francisco into my life even more than it already is.

But it would have been a good deal if everything had worked out. We'd have gotten the permit, the tree, and the sidewalk cement lifted and removed all for $100. Plus, trees raise property values.

What do you think this means?



Annie in Austin said...

Maybe it means you won't be guilty of the death of a tree?? That spot does look unpromising, ChuckB.

When I saw the list, I recognized Eriobotrya as Loquat, but didn't know 'deflexa'. Bronze Loquat -Phooie.
Another thing that has red-bronze new growth, like the Red-tip photinia, some nandinas and many other trees that are popular now, but not with me. I really resent those flame-colored new leaves intruding into an Austin spring, when I crave pale, meltingly green new growth in the vernal scene.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

anile said...

I showed this to my BF, who knows about all this surveying stuff. He says the yellow paint and 'G' means it's a one inch gas line and
CULP means "currently under low pressure."

Come by and visit me...

And no I didn't put Harry Potter there 'cause of what you told me, but it did enter my mind! LOL ;)

chuck b. said...

Thanks, Anile! Now I know! I was really wondering.

Oh, Annie--now the guy from the Friends of the Urban Forest wants me to put the tree next to the pole even though it's against the rules! A tree would look terrible growing next to the pole. Plus, it would eventually obscure the "No Parking" street cleaning sign which could get me into trouble with the Dept. of Parking and Traffic...


Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Potted plants, BIG potted plants, terrorist truck bomb barrier potted plants.

The County Clerk said...

It might mean "NO CONFLICT" or "NO UNDERGROUND ANYTHING HERE"... as in, PG&E sent out a person to find out if there was something under the concrete there. That person looked and wrote NO.

I'm guessing.

But so are you.

You are playing games with your own head (I do it all the time). I had myself so convinced that I'd have a legal problem with my last home purchase (I'm in the middle of a divorce) that when the closing actually happened I was... believe it or not... disappointed. I'd convinced myself that it wasn't going to happen and so made myself unexcited about the possibility of it actually happening. Then it happened.

Wait for the actual answer. If you are approved, plant a tree. It will be nice to have tree out front. If denied, that's fine too.

(It is easy to give advice huh? I could NEVER follow this advice. I get emotionally invested.)

Mei Ling Hui said...

Hello, I'm from FUF and I wanted to chime in, perhaps Christian will as well, who was the planting manager for this event. (I'm the other one, the too curious and nosy one... Hope I'm not stepping on his toes. )

The yellow line means that there is a gas line is under that painted line. We obviously can't let anyone dig on top of a gas line, much less plant a tree there.

The red markings say that there is no electric in the area. The big "no" sign in red can be a bit ominous. It can be a bit ominous looking, but it's actually good news.

The parking sign can be moved. I've moved speed limited signs before. If it's too close, Christian already called the Sign Department and asked them to move it. They may or may not do so, but hey, we tried. The tree should be seen as the permanent fixture, not signs or sidewalks.

And for a bit of clarification, we call out the utility companies to mark where there underground lines are and then if the location is safe, or to public code, then we plant. If not, we can't. So PG&E don't decide if a tree goes there, the city ordinances decide it.

If your tree is clear and legal, Christian will okay it. If not, he won't. We want to plant safe trees here! We want a healthy and sustainable urban forest!

Good luck with your tree! Anyone who reads this, feel free to contact me with questions about trees or about FUF.

Happy planting!

Mei Ling Hui
Planting Manager
415.561.6890 x 110