stumpBordering the University Place Starbucks parking lot used to live a few very handsome maples. When I saw them last, thanks to Autumn’s influence they were just changing their colors and when the wind rustled through their leaves it caused an elegant dance of foliage

It was all quite beautiful.

Of course these trees must die.

Here’s the story. Sitting on the Starbucks’ patio, waiting for my wife to pick me up for our daily car pool one day, I heard the unmistakable sound of a chainsaw. That sound is rather distinct in suburban areas, so I perked up and looked to see what was happening.

I looked over and saw a crew making short work of some trees in front of the Starbucks.

As I watched the the crew hack away at the poor maple’s limbs, I couldn’t imagine why the destruction of these trees was necessary. They were a cluster of four trees, grouped together, unceremoniously dispatched piece by piece. What practical purpose did it serve? Cleaning up the landscape? Yes, the only thing more concerning than litter (of which University Place has its fair share and then some) were those trees blocking the view of the street?

trees-thereThe offending trees did nothing more than protect the sparse wood life, shade the grass, and sheild some garbage cans from the elements. I counldn’t see the harm but the property managers obviously disagreed. If I were a eco-hippy-liberal type I’d rant endlessly about the screams of the trees, but I could care less if the trees scream. That’s what headphone are for.

What upsets me is pointless destruction. I simply cannot imagine a situation where the property owner would need to cut down the trees. There’s no point. The only scenario that makes even a little sense is if Starbucks asked them to take the trees down. Why would Starbucks need to destroy the environment?

Visibility of course.

You see, the trees block the view of the Starbucks from oncoming traffic so that if one is jonesing for a mocha-chino, frapplicious something or other, and you happen to be the one person in the area without internet, a Starbucks app, or peripheral vision, then you just might miss the store. To let that one person go without their Starbucks would be un-American, so, again, the trees must die.

I’m a huge fan of pure capitalism, and a proponent of property rights, the owners can do what they wish with what they have. My issue is with making the word an uglier place. There’s a shocking and unfortunate tendency in America to choose pragmatism over charm and beauty. I despise the cutting down of these trees for the same reasons I prefer a turn of the century Victorian over the concrete monolith of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Tacoma. The Wells building is a triumph of engineering (for the time) to be sure, but it has the personality of a depressed ogre. Americans could do with less ogres and more beauty.

trees-goneSo the property owners think less trees will make the world, or at least their lot, a better place, and Starbucks by default agrees. They might even have been the main motivation for the clearing.

Well done University Place, you have just made yourself less attractive, increased your blight on the world, and left the Earth worse off than when you found it.