Trees are now racist.
The city of Palm Springs, Calif., plans to remove a row of trees that block a historically African-American neighborhood from a city-owned golf course.
"Along the 14th fairway of Palm Springs' Tahquitz Creek Golf Course stands a long row of tamarisk trees, a 50-foot-tall wall of dense foliage seen nowhere else on the course. This species of tree, which guzzles water and leaves large deposits of salt, is so invasive that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has categorized it as a pest," the Desert Sun newspaper wrote in September.
"But residents living for decades on the other side of this thicket, in the Lawrence Crossley neighborhood, see the tamarisks as something far worse than a horticultural nuisance. They see the trees as an enduring symbol of racism and inequality – and they want them removed by the city of Palm Springs, which owns the golf course."
The paper said the trees were planted in 1960s "to block off the historically black neighborhood from the affluent white patrons of the golf course on the other side." The piece then compares apples to oranges (and admits so) when stating that properties on the other side of the trees sell for much more.
At an informal city council meeting this week, Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon apologized for any wrongdoing by the city and said he and the rest of the council "wanted to make the necessary changes to ensure future generations didn’t have to deal with the same problems current and past residents faced," USA Today reported.
“You asked why it took us this long,” Roberts told about 50 residents gathered for the meeting. “I can’t answer that. But guess what? We’re here now.”
“It’s a new city council and a new time,” Moon said.
The Crossley Tract was founded by Lawrence Crossley, Palm Springs’ first African American resident, in 1956. Crossley intended the 20-acre tract, which at the time was outside city limits, to be a place where black families who worked in Palm Springs but were barred from living there could live. City records indicate the area was incorporated into the city about a decade later, after Crossley’s death.
At the same time, residential golf resorts were popping up all over the city. In 1958, work started on the Tahquitz Creek Golf Course, which was purchased by the city the following year when the developer ran into financial issues. Luxury condo developments were built-up around the course, and in the mid 1960s the trees were planted along the east side of the 14th fairway, blocking Crossley Tract residents' views of the course and the mountains and hiding the neighborhood from view from the course.
Removal of the trees is estimated to cost $170,000 and won't begin for at least three months, as long as the full city council approves the move.
But then there's this:
"In addition to uprooting the water-guzzling, salt-depositing tamarisk trees, Crossley Tract residents are also asking that the city build six-foot-tall privacy walls for those who want it; replace the tamarisks with the type of trees that were used elsewhere on the course; and install netting to stop golf balls from landing in residents' backyards," the Daily Mail reported.
So, they're going to take down the trees, build some walls and install nets, and plant some more trees to protect houses from errant golf balls?
Isn't that what the original trees did?