Is the City about to cut down a Torrey Pines tree on Long Branch?

by on November 2, 2010 · 19 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego

torrey pine js 01

Torrey Pines on the 4600 block of Long Branch Avenue. (Photos by Jeff Stone.)

Ocean Beach is home to a number of tall, sightly and wonderful Torrey Pines trees.  You may think of the 4600 block of Saratoga Avenue – where there are a number of the beauties.  The trees are scattered around northeast Ocean Beach.

There is also one on the 4600 block of Long Branch Avenue.  It leans a little toward the street but is not bothering anyone or endangering any property around it.

Yet it has a big white “X” sprayed on its bark. You know, the “X’s” that tree cutters use to signify a tree that is supposed to be cut down.  It actually has two “X’s” I’m told.

torrey pine js 02Local activist Richard Agee saw the “X” and contacted Councilmember Kevin Faulconer’s office about it.  Staff member for OB Thyme Curtis quickly dashed off an email to Drew Potocki, Urban Forester of the City’s  Engineering & Capital Projects. Thyme’s email expressed concern that the tree might be cut down, plus she cited the municipal code that states it is unlawful to cut down Torrey Pines in the City.  And here it is:

Section 63.07 of the Municipal Code states: Destruction, Injury of Torrey Pines Trees, Prohibited

That it shall be unlawful for any person or persons to cut, injure or destroy any trees known as the “Pinis Torreyana” growing upon Pueblo Lots Nos. 1332, 1337 and 1338 or any public lots or lands, belonging to and within the corporate limits of the City of San Diego.

Thyme Curtis asked Potocki to investigate why there are white “X’s” on the tree.  A second  email to Potocki asked:

“While you gather info to let us know, it will not be cut down/trimmed in any way, correct?”

I quickly notified good friend and photog Jeff Stone, who took several excellent shots of the tree itself.

We will keep on top of this potential devastating cutting of a Torrey Pines tree.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie November 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm

The only problem with that tree – I know – this used to be my block – is that it drips sap on any vehicle below.


OB Dude November 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Can’t be any worse than bird poop.


Brian November 2, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Obviously, you’ve never had sap on your car. (This should not be construed as a vote in favor of cutting the tree down… just saying, sap is way worse than bird poop.)


Jon November 2, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Great logic…cut down a tree to save a paint job on a car. wtf is wrong with people?


Brian November 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

Dude, no one said that.


Jon November 3, 2010 at 10:46 pm

My bad. I totally misread your comment. Sorry Brian.


Richard Agee November 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Ch. Art. Div.
6 3 0 3
San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 6: Public Works and Property,
Public Improvement and Assessment Proceedings
§63.07 Destruction, Injury of Torrey Pines Trees — Prohibited
That it shall be unlawful for any person or persons to cut, injure or destroy any trees
known as the “Pinus Torreyana” growing upon Pueblo Lots Nos. 1332, 1337 and
1338 or any other public lots or lands, belonging to and within the corporate limits of
the City of San Diego.
(Incorp. 1–22–1952 by O–5046 N.S.)


La Playa Heritage November 2, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Great job.


Marilyn Steber November 2, 2010 at 6:24 pm

For a silly moment, you might get a giggle out of what may be the first environmental song, Woodman, Spare that Tree, circa 1837.
Try reciting it in dramatic Victorian style.
It’s best to be a little high when you do that!


Richard Agee November 2, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Marilyn Steber You just made my day ! That was really something to hear that first environmental song circa 1837. Thank You so much !

On another note, if the City feels they need to CUT something down so bad , Maybe they should start with their PENSIONS !

I want to thank everyone today for all the support and help they have given . Ocean Beach is a GREAT community and a WONDERFUL place to live .


Marilyn Steber November 3, 2010 at 10:04 am

I’d love to discuss this pension thing with you. Or anyone else.
The way I understand it, the City decided to let their employees coast on their pension contributions because the stock market was doing so well the pension fund could get along without employees chipping in.
I could be wrong. My information came from an aquaintance who couldn’t handle the poverty he was facing because of the pension mess, and he eventually committed suicide.
On the other hand, I help support retired firefighters and policemen who are far wealthier than I can ever be, and that hurts sometimes.
It that doesn’t get some hateful mail, I don’t know what will! 8-)


annagrace November 3, 2010 at 10:29 am

Hi Marilyn- it is both untrue and unfortunate that citizens have been lead to believe that employees do not pay into their pensions. I worked for the city for 26 1/2 years and I like everyone else paid into my pension the whole time, as well as paying into my supplemental pension. Many citizens are also unaware that city workers do not get Social Security.

Voice of San Diego ran a spot on analysis of average pensions and wages.


Marilyn Steber November 3, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Thanks, Annagrace. I stand corrected. The aforementioned man was more or less a “common laborer”. He set up chairs at Mt. Hope, among other duties. I don’t know his pay grade, but I do know he was exceptionally bitter about Mike Aguirre’s position on many matters and stood with other employees of the city who blamed Aguirre for their pension woes.


annagrace November 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I am sorry Marilyn that you lost a friend. I, and many others voted for Aguirre. We were then horrified to find out that instead of taking a scalpel to the pension underfunding, he wielded a pick ax. Those of us who worked in maintenance, or as library and park and rec staff serving the public felt as though we had been sucker punched by Aguirre, painted as public enemy #1.

I have attended many many city council meetings on my own time as a private citizen. I would wait long hours to give my 2 minute pitch on behalf of libraries. After one of those meetings Mike came up to me and said that he didn’t understand why librarians didn’t like him. I bluntly responded that it wasn’t a matter of not liking him- we utterly detested him- because he could not distinguish between the excesses at the top and the pretty ordinary compensation the majority of us were receiving further down on the food chain.

It was deeply troubling then- and still haunts me- that an elected official would turn against the whole city workforce, choosing to paint all of us with the same brush. I thought this particular lawyer was capable of a more nuanced approach…. Aguirre was not responsible for our pension woes- all of the parties who decided to underfund the pension way back when must assume that culpability. Aguirre’s response to that situation however was unconscionable, completely lacking in integrity. He ultimately exacerbated the problem instead of resolving it.

Good talking to you Marilyn.


Marilyn Steber November 5, 2010 at 8:40 am

I so appreciate your opinion on the subject. Thanks for writing.


annagrace November 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I was the hoping that x’s were kisses from the Lorax….


o.b.dude November 9, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Ahem. Back to the matter of the Torrey Pines in OB: I hate to be construed as anti-tree in any way, as I always actually considered myself a tree-hugger, but there are some powerful negatives to all those towering Torreys on a residential block. They can be immensely messy, destructive and even dangerous. I know, our Sunset Cliffs house suffered beneath one for the last decade until it finally fell over one night in August. Planted as a living Christmas tree in the 1970s in our neighbor’s front yard, by this year it loomed 80 feet above the street, spread far over our property and out over the street. It eventually totally blocked the view of the ocean that our house had enjoyed for more than half a century, and that of most of our uphill neighbors, and enveloped our front yard in a depressing afternoon shadow. And because our neighbor refused to maintain it, the shaggy tree grew almost as wide as it did tall, constantly shedding downpours of needles and pods on our roof, front patio, sidewalk, 2 patio covers, driveway and landscaping, clogging our gutters and fountain with debris. When the wind blew hard, as it does often during the winter and spring, the needles were pushed deep into almost every cranny and crevice of our property. Because our neighbor paid for his yard to be cleaned weekly, but not ours, my family was out sweeping needles several times a month since we moved back to my childhood house 10 years ago, only to have them replaced the next windy day. The tree was seldom trimmed and repeated pleas to my neighbor to take better care of his giant tree fell on deaf ears. I even offered to pay to have it removed, as did a couple of our neighbors, as it turned out later, to no avail. Then, just about when I was ready to give up, in the wee hours of a summer night, the tree split in half with a tremendous crash and came to rest on the neighbor’s roof, filling the early-morning air with the pungent odor of turpentine and the street with police cars after my neighbor dialed 911. Luckily, no one was hurt and damage was minimal. A few weeks later, I was awakened by the lovely sound of chain saws as the rest of the tree was removed as well, to the quiet cheers of all our uphill neighbors. I we were lucky; I’ve heard of the roots of Torrey Pines destroying the foundations of nearby houses, resulting in lawsuits and serious expenses. The limbs, if they drop, can weigh many hundreds of pounds. So the moral is, yes, the right tree is usually a welcome addition to an urban setting, can be lovely in its native landscape, but a nuisance in others.


Frank Gormlie December 2, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Many of us remember that tree – was it really a Torrey Pine? – I don’t remember it having the Torrey Pine “look”. It was beautiful, shaggy, messy. And the small blue cottage looked like a quaint hobbit house. It’s true, shady afternoons can be depressing – THREE BLOCKS FROM THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CLIFFS ON the California coast!!!!!


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