Memory loss

What a difference a year makes. In April 2002, Chico City Councilmembers Dan Herbert, Larry Wahl and Steve Bertagna publicly lamented the loss of scores of ancient oak trees, felled by a developer who, the city said, greatly exceeded the number approved for removal in preparation for his southeast Chico housing development.

Hang him high, the councilmembers fairly roared during a meeting designed to penalize developer Andrew Meghdadi. Herbert called for the city to write a letter to the state Contractors Licensing Board to see if Meghdadi’s contractor’s license might be revoked. At the close of the meeting the council voted unanimously to direct city staff to develop an ordinance protecting Chico’s trees.

A few months later the state board announced it could establish no jurisdiction in the case because the city had no ordinance protecting trees on private property.

Fast forward to today: Those same three councilmembers are no longer interested in protecting the city’s trees. Calling the Meghdadi case an isolated incident, they now argue that an ordinance is not needed and could place an undue burden on the local building industry.

The councilmembers’ current position shows clearly that they are more interested in protecting certain developers—those who belong to the Building Industry Association and/or make council campaign contributions—than trees.

For the record, Meghdadi supports a tree ordinance.