People, Not Trees

Written by admin on . Posted in Opinion and Column.


To the Editor:
I do not want to sound like a grinch or Scrooge, but your article glorifying sellers of Christmas trees (“Evergreen Guys,” Dec. 17) was not just hopelessly one-sided, but not entirely accurate. You say that, “[M]ost of the Christmas tree operations are on city sidewalks, and only require consent from the property owner fronting the sidewalk.” Not quite. Although Christmas tree vendors are exempt from most of the vendor regulations, they are subject to administrative code section 19-136(a)(4), which requires that, “a passageway shall be kept open on the sidewalk so obstructed for the free movement of pedestrians.” While many of the tree sellers observe this rule, many others encroach so far into the sidewalk that it makes passage difficult, particularly for the elderly and those with strollers or shopping carts.
There are two other factors not mentioned in your article. One is the practice of Christmas tree farming (which uses land that could be used for more critical purposes) and the “carbon footprint” created in cutting down and transporting trees.
The other factor is something I see every year at this time. A person spends sometimes north of $100 on a tree, yet that same person somehow cannot turn around and give a single dollar to a homeless person on the way home. Is $1 really that difficult to give when one is spending $50 to $100 on a tree that will be dead in two weeks? Without shelter or food, it is the homeless person who might be dead in two weeks. Are trees more important than people?

Rev. Ian Alterman
Upper West Side

Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

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