Looking at a tree relaxes people. Looking at a billboard makes them wish they were looking at anything else — but it makes money for somebody! So it totally makes sense that Cleveland let Clear Channel chop down a 30-year-old linden tree in order to provide clear sight lines to a billboard advertising some local radio station. If by “totally makes sense” you mean “HULK SMASH.”

Here’s the city’s defense, for what it’s worth (not much):

There are instances in which trees are trimmed due to the lack of visibility of a sign; however, in this particular situation tree trimming was not an option. Half of the tree would have to be removed in order to clear the sign, at which point the tree would be considered hazardous (structural defect) and a threat to the public.

The 15′ Linden tree will be replaced by Clear Channel with five (5) 3″ trees to be placed in proper places around the city.

We assume they mean 3-foot trees, not 3-inch trees as stated, but we also assumed nobody would chop down a fucking tree to make it easier to see a billboard, so who knows.

TreeHugger warned us years ago that this would happen. Companies like Clear Channel campaigned for the right to cut down trees that were obscuring their precious, tacky advertising. Perhaps this tree-felling was inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any less distasteful.

Update: New York City’s done the same thing! Not cool, New York. Not cool.