There are a number of Torrey Pines trees in Ocean Beach, as any resident worth their salt can tell you. We have been concerned about one on the 4600 block of Long Branch Avenue – and are following that story so watch for an update.
Meanwhile, there’s an entire “forest” of them on the 4600 block of Saratoga Avenue. Beginning this week, the City of San Diego has a crew out there doing trimming. Here is what Drew Potocki, the city’s “urban forester”, had to say about that work in an email to Thyme Curtis of Councilman Faulconer’s office:
I wanted to give you an update on our status with respect to these subject trees. First of all we have scheduled to trim the historic Torrey Pines on 4600 block of Saratoga St beginning Monday morning. Crews from West Coast Arborists, (city contractor) will be performing inspections of the trees structure as well as removal of any dead or broken limbs. This work is unrelated to the Long Branch tree but we thought everyone who loves these trees should know. I have attached the original story about the Saratoga trees which is always a pleasure to read [editor: which we post below]. Please share this information with … others who may like to know.
I have to do some more work and inspection around the Long Branch tree to make a final determination on its ability to remain. I will have the big tree crew nearby which will speed up our determination. If you have time to visit Saratoga during the work stated above I’m sure you’ll be impressed.
Letter from Stanley Cobb to William Brennan about the Torrey Pines of OB
The following information was provided to Mr. William Brennan, a resident of Saratoga Avenue since 1937, by Mr. Stanley Cobb in May 1993 via hand written letter, a month before his death.
During the era of the Great Depression, the WPA(Works Progress Administration) was formed to create all types of jobs for unemployed that would enhance civic need or beauty. One example was Hand Made Friars Road(all done with pick & shovel). This jurisdiction fell under the First County Supervisoral District No. 1 (Edgar F. Hastings-Supervisor). District 1 supplied all the picks, shovels, wheelbarrels & water for the daily horde of hand labors transported from all over San Diego.
Another huge beautification project being planned was planting young Torrey pine trees(one foot high-gallon cans) on both sides of the highway, from the gate to Cabrillo national monument.
Mr. Hastings chose my father(David Robert Cobb) to raise the trees. My father was a County employee($4.00 per day) at the time. We had 250′ frontage on Saratoga Avenue-enough room for a nursery and my father had sufficient knowledge of plants & trees. Permission was granted for gathering the pine nuts from Torrey pines State Park and the project was launched.
Seeds, in flat trays covered with cloth to sprout, to transplanting to progressive larger containers to finally one gallon cans took one to two years, using special loam mixtures created for that purpose.
The Great Transplant up on top of Point Loma took place(it would be a thing of beauty today, had it succeeded). It was doomed to failure due to no wire screen protection of the roots from gophers & ground squirrels below or rabbits & ground squirrels above ground plus irregular watering. There are a few survivors-near the entrance and near the fire station.
In Ocean Beach, several streets had their trees or bushes such as Cape May & Brighton had Oleanders, etc. Saratoga avenue, up from Sunset Cliffs Blvd., had nothing. So I believe my mother was instrumental in getting that accomplished, as dad had a few extra trees. They were spaced on both sides of the street with adequate watering basins, to be periodically watered with City trucks. Injury and carelessness eliminated over half of them. The few which survived have raised havoc with sidewalks, streets and even branches crashing into homes. I=m sure a few are the worlds largest. They are fed by an underground river of water(capped by the street) by every home up hill who waters a lawn or garden.
It’s ironic, planted to create jobs-that they did, constant maintenance will keep city workers always concerned.
Stanley R. Cobb (8-18-20)
4630 Santa Monica Ave
May 10, 1993
Native of Ocean Beach