Long Branch Torrey Pine on OB Planning Board Agenda – Dec. 1, 2010

by on November 27, 2010 · 23 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

The endangered Torrey Pine tree on the 4600 block of Long Branch Avenue is on the agenda of the December 1st meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board.  The huge, beautiful tree located at 4633 Long Branch is endangered because the City of San Diego wants either to cut it down or perform drastic cutting that itself could endanger the tree.

There is a call out for residents and other concerned citizens to attend this Board meeting, which begins at 6pm and his held at the OB Recreation Center, 4726  Santa Monica Avenue.

Drew Potocki and Mary Wolford from the City are expected to be present, and will be giving reports on opinions about the Torrey Pine from experts that say the tree should be removed.

The sidewalk next to the tree has buckled and the City wishes to repair the sidewalk.  However, over on the 4600 block of  Saratoga Avenue, where there are a number of Torrey Pines, the city was able to repair sidewalks without damaging the trees.

Local residents have also retained one and perhaps two arborists who disagree with the City’s plans for the tree.  Plus a local activist, Richard Agee, has requested the three reports from arborists the City cites as their basis for the tree’s removal. The City in response has informed Agee that it needs additional time to get the reports to him.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Dude November 27, 2010 at 9:59 am

Why does the city need time to provide the reports from the arborists? Do they have them in hand or are they working on it? Who are these people in the city that cannot provide this information? Is Faulconer going to have representation at this meeting?


Richard Agee November 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

The City states the tree has to be cut down , so I asked the city to provide the certified arborists reports that would show this and why. And they are either unwilling or simply unable to provide this .I called Torrey Pines State park and was given a name and hired an Arborist and he said the tree is healthy , and he did make some recommendations that I will present.

Yes ,Kevin Fulconer will have Thyme Curtis at the meeting.


bodysurferbob November 27, 2010 at 10:36 am

i still don’t get it. why again does the city want to take this tree down?


Richard Agee November 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

They have stated that it is a danger to the community , someone could be hurt killed or property could be damaged. And it after 65-75 years it has buckled the sidewalk .They basically wanted to get rid of all of the Torrey pines on Saratoga Ave severasl dacades ago but the citizens said NO, and so they fixed the sidewalk to go around the trees and if you walk down Saratoga Ave today ,it is one of the most beautiful streets in OB. We are saying if you could do it for the Torrey Pines on Saratoga Ave ,then you can do it for this Torrey pines on Long Branch. There next excuse was that the city is broke and it is much easier to just get rid of the thing and be done with it. The citizens feel that is not a valid answer, and want the sidewalk carefully fixed and the tree to remain as part of the community for the comming years. Why take out a healthy good tree ?


Richard Agee November 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

Another thought also ,the community wants to preserve the tree because Torrey Pines is the rarest tree in the United States of America, they only grow right here and on Santa Rosa Island that is why they are protected within the boundry of the City of San Diego, and once they are gone , they are gone .


Annie Lane November 27, 2010 at 11:26 am

Thanks for reporting on this; I find it very interesting. I’m always sad to hear when a tree has to go, or at when authorities believe a tree has to go, and believe all trees should be preserved, however possible, unless there is a real danger of a branch or some other part landing on a child or destroying property. As a parent, I wouldn’t want to get that news nor would I want to be forced to buy another car because a tree fell on top of my perfectly good one. I’m wondering though, do you know of any plans the city has to replace the beautiful tree? Perhaps with others whose roots grow more downward than outward and would do less damage to the the streets and sidewalks? I know there are sewage lines to worry about then, but isn’t there a viable, safe solution? Also, why exactly to the arborists retained by locals disagree?


Richard Agee November 27, 2010 at 11:48 am

Well I guess really if you want to you could play the “What If ” game with any tree or anything, What if this tree falls , what if that tree falls ? There are trees bigger higher , really leaning roots not deep at all that are a real danger so I do not know why the city has picked this one . The two arborists I hired and that looked at the tree said it was healthy and they did not agree with the city that ” it needed to be removed ” so because the city will not show me there arborist’s reports , and keep coming up with every reason and trying to scare the community makes me wonder ?


Annie Lane November 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Ah, well thanks for doing the research, and the hiring too. I’ll be interested to know what’s decided on December 1.


Sarah November 27, 2010 at 11:30 am

Thanks, Richard.

I am not from this area so at first I was a bit confused about the fuss about the tree. I’ve lived in other communities where we’ve had to replace the older “street” trees because of the extreme damage they were doing to the streets and walkways.

This morning I read your articles and comments and did some research and now I understand. I’ve never lived anywhere that the city would build around a tree, but I like it!

Thanks for opening my eyes.



Richard Agee November 27, 2010 at 11:59 am

Thanks Sarah , maybe you could come to the OB planning board meeting Dec 1st and help give us support ! We would love to have you there. I am sure the tree would love it if you could be there. The tree has not done anything to anybody in this community and has been just living it’s life and wants to continue living here .
Sarah if you would like to know mare about me , please read the article : The Palm trees of Santa Barbara Street).


OB Dude November 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I just returned from checking out this tree. It doesn’t appear sickly and it certainly has a presence on the street. I can imagine some would say that it’s “messy” but so many trees are messy in their own way. Unless it’s a hazard, I hope that it will stay.

It appears that none of the residents deem it to be a hazard because cars are parked on both sides of the street by this Torrey Pine. If anyone believe it was going to fall or break , then they would not park there.

Sorry, I cannot be at the planning board meeting. Richard, can you provide an email for the city rep for those of us who cannot be at the meeting and would like send their message? Also, is the OB Historical Society aware of this issue?


Richard Agee November 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm

This is the email for Drew Potocki the city arborist who wants it cut down:

This is the email for Citycouncil District 2 Rep Thyme Curtis :

This is the email for Mary Wolford from the division of sidewalks and streets.


OB Dude ,it is funny that you mention it I was thinking of the OB Historical Society the other day and was wondering should I make them aware or not , but now ,I think I will. Thank You OB Dude for walking to see the tree , I am sure you have seen the Historic Giants a few blocks up on Saratoga Ave (4600 Block also)
They really make that street , and you can see big bird nests way up high ! One last thing OB Dude: Thank You for doing what you do !


Richard Agee November 27, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Oh and here is the chair person for the Ocean Beach Community Planing Board who would love to hear your view if you cannot attend , and please do copy me on your mail also . Thanks again OB Dude.




Dorothy Lee November 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

Curious: what is the law concerning the property owner’s responsibility and right to control what happens in the space in which the tree (or any landscaping) is growing?

It is my understanding that the easement along sidewalks directly in front of or adjacent to a private property is PROW, but that the City, with permission from the State (which, through Streets&Hwys Code, legally controls the streets, curbs, easements, and sidewalks), holds the owner responsible for that PROW and allows the owner to decide more or less (via Muni Code) how that space is used.
Did the City tell the owner to deal with the tree, prior to deciding to cut the tree? Will the owner be charged for any actions taken by the City?


Richard Agee November 28, 2010 at 11:42 am

Hi Dorothy,
Here is the City of San Diego Policy concerning trees in the public right of way:

Council Policy 200-05:

The owner at this address where the Torrey Pine tree is has told the city he wants the sidewalk repaired but wants the tree to remain. To my knowledge the owner would not be charged.


Dorothy Lee November 28, 2010 at 11:58 am

Thank you Richard! Very helpful.


Dianne November 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Who gets to vote to “recommend approval or deny proposal” at the Planning Board meeting on December 1?


Richard Agee November 29, 2010 at 4:29 am


That is a very good question ! And I do not know the answer .


Wireless Mike November 29, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Why is the city withholding the arborists’ reports until after the OBPB meeting? The decision on the fate of this tree should be delayed until the City’s reports are made public, and can be compared to the reports by independent experts who are not paid by the city.

This tree is protected by law. Its fate should not be taken lightly. Don’t allow a decision to be made until all the facts are available to everyone concerned.


Richard Agee November 29, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I certainly agree with everything you have said. I cannot answer for the city, but these would be great questions to ask at the meeting Dec 1st at 6pm at the Ocean Beach Rec Center. I hope to see all of you there, you all have great questions ! Let’s get some answers !!


editordude November 30, 2010 at 8:29 am

The following email was sent to Councilman Kevin Faulconer:
To all who are involved with the “Tree” of Long Branch:

I recently read an article in the OB Rag http://obrag.org/?p=28101 which caught my attention. So I grabbed my camera and took a walk to 4633 Long Branch. Two photos are attached to show views from the east and west.

At 4633 I found a beautiful Torrey Pine. A tree that is large, old, majestic and certainly brings a presence to this street and neighborhood. So I wonder why it has been “X’d’, with the sign of death? Is it a danger? If so, I ask why do people park their cars under this tree, why hasn’t the area been marked off by the city pointing out the danger to residents and visitors, where is the arborist’s report stating it’s dangerous characteristics and lastly, why this tree? Out of the trees in OB that lift the sidewalk, do not stand straight, drop their leaves or needles why has this tree been singled out for destruction? I am interested to know.

I am sorry that I cannot attend the OBPB meeting concerning this issue. Many questions require answers and I applaud Mr. Richard Agee for taking time out of his life to let us know about the actions/inactions of our city employees. The people of OB deserve information, answers and most of all consent before any of our trees are destroyed.

Please respect the people of this community. If you cannot do that, then you need to resign from public service.

Thank you,

Debora Greene


editordude November 30, 2010 at 9:54 am

Here’s another email sent to Faulconer’s office:
Stop the destruction of trees in OB!

I recently became aware of the white “X” (slated for removal) placed
on the Torrey Pine tree on Long Branch Avenue in Ocean Beach. Then I
did a little research and was appalled to learn of the city’s history
of trying to sneak in and cut down many of OB’s trees.

This landmark Torrey Pine tree on Long Branch Avenue has stood since
the 1930s. All Torrey Pine trees in San Diego are protected
by law from destruction or injury, in addition to the usual
requirement for the planning board to be notified before removal of
any tree. This tree was slated for removal without notifying the
planning board. My question is 1) why and 2) who is responsible for
making this decision?

I support the local activists who are trying to save this tree. As
members of our city government, I ask you to question those
responsible for this decision in the first place.

Residents shouldn’t have to fight year after year to save the trees in
their community.

Donna Blum
San Diego


Frank Gormlie November 30, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Richard and I went door to door on the 4600 block of Long Branch – my old block – yesterday, Monday. We were able to talk to a good number of residents and most were interested in saving the tree. Some said they would try to attend the Planning Board meeting on Wed.


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