In his ongoing war on trees, Aberdeen Mayor Travis Schaunaman goes on KSFY to demonstrate his ignorance of the full benefits of urban green space:
“I don’t think they should have to do no trees, I think that some trees are good for the beautification, but it’s just way too many as it stands,” says Aberdeen Mayor Travis Schaunaman [Ryan Martin, “Aberdeen City Council Working to Change ‘Green Space Ordinance’,” KSFY, 2019.10.04].
Mayor Schaunaman evidently missed what I’ve written here about that trees doing far more than beautify the city. I wouldn’t expect Mayor Schaunaman to step out of his Trumpist Facebook echo chamber to read what I write… but I would expect the mayor—any mayor—to at least read the city ordinance he wants to abolish in favor of asphalt. Aberdeen’s landscape regulations lay out five purposes, only one of which is aesthetic:
Sec. 56-112. -Purpose.
Landscaping regulation is designed to achieve a number of objectives, including:
- To maintain and protect property values, create transitions, and reduce the negative impacts of surrounding land uses;
- Provide relief from traffic, noise, heat, glare and the spread of dust and/or debris;
- Enhance the aesthetic appearance of the city;
- Reduce soil erosion; and
- Reduce the effects of wind and heat through the provision of shade [City of Aberdeen, Ordinance No. 12-11-07, Article IV: “Landscape Standards,” Section 56-112, retrieved 2019.10.06].
This ordinance declares the city’s compelling interest in improving property values; relieving residents from wind, heat, and dust; and reducing erosion. Beauty matters, but so do all these other advantages that Mayor Schaunaman ignores when he argues for getting rid of trees.
Mayor Schauanaman also appears to ignore the city’s comprehensive plan from 2004, which declares that beauty by itself really matters to the community, as evidenced by comments from Aberdonians:
Simply put, beauty adds value to the community. The appearance of a community is one of the foremost influences of value and, hence, one of its most regarded assets. Residents take pride in their community and its attractive and interesting places. Businesses like to locate in attractive environments, which improve their ability to recruit employees, host clients and investors, and continue to invest in their facilities.
…The character and appearance of Aberdeen are of top priority according to a broad cross section of the community that participated in the key person interviews and community forum…. There is a strong desire to improve the entrances to the community with distinctive gateways, enhance the roadway environs with streetscape improvements, increase the amount of green space adjacent to the rights-of-way and throughout the community, add more landscaping and screening of parking and storage areas, control the size and location of signage, incorporate more public displays of art and community history, better manage the appearance of structures and vacant properties, and diligently enforce the City’s codes [Aberdeen Comprehensive Plan, Chapter 8: “Community Appearance,” 2004.11.10].
The city’s comprehensive plan calls for more trees and green space, not less.
What is so important to Mayor Schaunaman that he would act counter to the clear purposes laid out in city ordinance and the will of the people (not to mention sensible design and development) expressed in the comprehensive plan?
“It causes a lot of trouble with snow removal, it causes a lot of added expense, and it really gets in the way in terms of lighting, in terms of signage, and that sort of thing,” Schaunaman said [Martin, 2019.10.04].
Signage? Marketing? Wait—doesn’t Travis Schaunaman have a day job that involves marketing? Designing things that businesses would put on signs?
Ah, yes, now I see more clearly. Travis Schaunaman thinks his creations are more beautiful than Gaia’s. While the city’s comprehensive plan leans toward greening up Sixth Avenue South:
…Mayor Schaunaman’s vision for our community looks more like this:
If we’re really worried about snow removal, we’ll start by plowing away Travis Schaunaman’s self-interested snow job. Read the city ordinance, read the comprehensive plan, and read any expert on urban design, and you’ll see that Aberdeen needs more more trees, not fewer.