I have been less active in responding to comments since the evening of March 9. The reason is that at 7 p.m. our current went out and was not restored until March 11 at 9 p.m. then it went out again from March 13 at 9:30 p.m. who knows when. I am writing this at 3pm on March 17th and he is supposed to be back late in the evening of March 18th. I will believe it when I see it.
Why does this happen? A huge element is nature. Another important element is the government.
First, nature. We have a lot of trees with fairly shallow roots. The ground they are in has been softened by rain which is about double the amount we normally get at this point in the season. Then there is wind, with or without rain, which causes the trees to fall on the electric wires. Then a power outage.
There are two possible solutions. First, put the wires underground as is done very slowly in California. Second, cut down the trees before that happens.
Now let’s move on to the second factor, the government. Unfortunately, there is a vocal lobby of citizens who believe that until the trees are diseased, they should not be cut down. They persuade local governments not to allow homeowners or Pacific Gas & Electric to cut down healthy trees. It was because of the power of these citizens that a tree blew up in Pacific Grove (the town where I live) about 10 years ago and killed an elderly woman. His survivors sued and won around $1 million.
Ah, you say, but wouldn’t that have caused citizens to change their minds and not oppose more cutting of healthy trees when they endanger people or could blow Electric wires. But if you’re asking that, you don’t know Californians, or at least a vocal segment of Californians.
I think it was after the tree fell and killed the elderly woman that the city government of Pacific Grove hired a forester who came here from Wisconsin. Sounds like a good shot, right? One of his first actions was to drive around town looking for city-owned property and making a list of trees to cut down. If I remember correctly, the purpose assigned to it was to reduce the likelihood of future trees falling and killing or injuring people. His list was presented at a meeting of the city council. Many citizens have risen to oppose the felling of this or that tree.
The guy was probably pretty smart and could see where his forestry career was likely to go in Pacific Grove. The next morning, the city manager walked into his office and found the forester’s letter of resignation. He said words to that effect: “I quit because Pacific Grove has a lot of foresters.”