Don't Change Oakland's Existing Ban on Pesticides !

Oakland Has One of the Best Pesticide Ordinances in the Bay Area, yet the City Council is reviewing a change to this 8 year old ordinance to allow the use of pesticides for fire prevention and non-native weed control. The current ordinance allows only safe, non-toxic methods to be used. Changing it would allow the use of toxic pesticides.

Oakland hillsides can be cleared WITHOUT PESTICIDES !

MYTH : Weed control cannot be done effectively without pesticide use.

FACT : Weed control for fire prevention can be done safely and effectively without using pesticides, which may even make the problem worse. Many, many private hillsides have been successfully and effectively cleared of non-natives and flammables using coordinated seasonal hand pulling and replanting methods.

* Eucalyptus can be eradicated by cutting the tree close to the stump and parallel to the slope. Cover the stump with a black plastic material to prevent resprouting. Seedlings may have to be removed in following years. Seedlings removal is required even when pesticides are used. The cost of "tarping" is roughly equivalent to the cost of using toxic pesticides.

* Seventy-five Eucalyptus trees were eradicated in the East Bay Hills with no chemicals by covering the stumps with heavy-duty opaque black plastic !

* Numerous plants on the list similarly have non toxic methods for removal.

It is DOUBTFUL that ANY COST SAVINGS will be achieved by using pesticides !

MYTH : Use of pesticides will save money.

FACT : No cost savings have been quantified and it is doubtful that any cost savings will be achieved. Dead brush, as a result of the poisoning, will still need to be removed by hand. Replanting to avoid erosion will still need to be done by hand. The ONLY quantified cost associated with the pesticide use is an additional $124,000 per year to pay a pesticide consultant.

* Broom can be cut before it goes to seed. Observe for one year prior to replanting in case suppressed native plants seeds exist. Replant. Remove broom seedlings for 5 years if necessary. Successful eradication photos in the Oakland Hills below, no seedlings returned after replanting.

Non-Native Weed Control or Fire Prevention ?

MYTH: Use of pesticides on identified plants is required for fire prevention.

FACT: The proposed ordinance targets more than Eucalyptus and Broom, the flammable non-natives. It also allows herbiciding on non-native Blackberry, Plums, Pampas Grass, Acacia, Cherry, Elm, Holly, Mayten, Cotoneaster, Gorse, Italian hawthorn. The sponsor of the ordinance has admitted that the long list was compiled with non-native weed control in mind, not fire prevention. Further, the author of the list compiled the list from textbooks on non-natives, not from practical experience in the Oakland hills.


REALITY CHECK - At roughly 8 hours per acre and $12. per hour plus 30% fringe, the city's 1000 acres could be CLEARED BY HAND for $124,800 - roughly the cost of the proposed pesticide specialist.


* Birds. Cotoneaster feeds birds such as Robins, Thrushes, and Waxwings. The plan does not include phasing these out over time nor does it include replanting Toyon or other plants to feed these birds.

* Edibles. People eat the blackberry roots, yet Blackberry is on the list for pesticide application.

* Eucalyptus is home to red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and newts; the ordinance doesn't include a plan to plant new homes for these critters prior to taking out the Eucs.

* Native Plants can be harmed when the pesticide roots are intertwined with nearby native plants.

* Wildlife. Owls, birds, butterflies, rabbits, coyote and other wild animals won't recognize the dye and will be subjected to the toxins.

Arguments Against the Proposed Ordinance

* Ordinance is Not Limited. There are no limits on the number of applications permitted, amount of pesticide used, proximity to homes or trails used by hikers or runners, time between applications, or conditions (windy, foggy days) under which pesticides can be applied.

* Taxpayers Agreed to non toxic methods. Pesticides will be paid for by Wildfire Assessment District funds, which were passed by taxpayers without any mention of pesticide use. Wildfire Assessment District funds were to be used for Goat Grazing, Yard Waste Disposal, Vegetation Management, CORE Training and Fire Prevention Education, and Roving Fire Patrols. No one imagined that they would be used to reintroduce pesticides.

* Not Last Resort. Practically every IPM program only allows pesticides as a last resort, after certain specific non toxic methods have been tried and failed. The Wildfire Advisory Committee was just formed and pesticides are being planned as a first step.

* Not Just Eucalyptus and Broom. The ordinance does not just apply to Eucalyptus and Broom, but to many other plants including non-native Blackberry, Plums, Pampas Grass, Acacia, Cherry, Elm, Holly, Mayten, Cotoneaster, Gorse, Italian hawthorn.

Rebuttal to Their Arguments Against the Opposition

* Not Practical - Vegetation Removal funds are on the order of $900,000, enough for 57,692 person-hours at a $12 per hour living wage with 30% fringe benefits, or 29 full-time equivalent jobs.

* Doesn't Scale - If one person can clear an average back yard (of roughly 1/3 of an acre) in 4 to 6 hours, then roughly 4615 acres per year could be cleared. In two years, all of the vegetation would have had its first pass ! Of course, those on steep hills with poison oak will take longer, but those filled with redwood trees and bays will be shorter.

* Non Toxic Methods haven't worked - Cutting alone does not suffice, just like buying an exercise bicycle doesn't suffice. After you cut, you have to replant, or tarp, or remove seedlings, or burn. Vegetation requires management. Even with pesticide use, the vegetation still requires management.


* Cancer, reproductive and neurological problems are implicated in herbicide exposure.

* Miscarriage

* Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

* Sex Hormone Disrupters

Experts Oppose Pesticide Use in Oakland Parks

The exemptions being considered are focused on killing the target species instead of restoring a desirable plant community. Caroline Cox, NCAP

We reviewed the Oakland Ordinance. Pesticides applied to tree stumps will still leach into the soil and increase cancer risks for residents and visitors, for children, for adults; and therefore, we must oppose this ordinance., Cancer Prevention Coalition

As ... the public member of Alameda County's IPM (Integrated Pest Management) committee and the president of the Environmental Health Network, I plead with you to rise to the challenge of controlling weeds and other "pests" with the least toxic means available. Herbicides are not the least toxic means available . . . regardless of advertising hype. Barbara Wilkie, Environmental Health Network

Get the chemical company promise in writing that no one will be harmed with the proper use of their product. Ask for all the studies that test the full product including the often more toxic secret inert ingredients that prove this product is safe for those with environmental health disabilities. Canaries Foundation


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