Mourning the Death of a Neighborhood Torrey Pine

by on August 26, 2013 · 11 comments

in Environment, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego

OB Torrey Pine 4300 blk Orchard mcby Mary Cairns / Special to the OB Rag

Friday morning, August23, I saw a tree removal/trimming company show up in the alley behind my house. My first thought was great! The Torrey Pine in the backyard of the house behind me is finally going to be trimmed. I had spoken with my next-door neighbor a month ago, and he said we should trim to get the branches off the wires.

Short information on the tree and neighborhood:

My parents bought the house I live in within a year after it was built in 1948. All of the houses in Point Loma Heights were built after the war, this area from ~1948-1950’s. The tree is estimated to be 80-100 years old, 40 feet tall. The tree location is the 4300 block of Orchard Avenue, a house down from Santa Barbara. More on the species later.

Walking out back to provide access to my yard for tree droppings, I was appalled to find out the tree was being removed! I have taken a picture of it from my back yard for you to see how beautiful it is.

After two days of talking to the owners, the tree removal company, and several arborists, hearing that the San Diego City arborist had stopped by, along with the SDG&E for the wires, we asked that we have yet another discussion of possibly saving the tree, mitigating some of the concerns a neighbor has for tree root damage, etc.

While we agree the tree is on private property, and not protected by the city as it’s in the back yard (the front yard would have prevented removal – go figure), it has been part of my “back yard” and my neighbors “back yard” for decades. We have swept all the pine needles from our yards and the public alley for decades, free of charge, as this tree is part of us. It even provides homes for birds and increases property assessments.

Unfortunately today we hit the alley cement. Along with my next-door neighbor, we attempted to have a discussion with the owners of the tree along with their neighbor who had concerns about root damage. One day last week there was an agreement to trim, but today all we got in return was screaming and a “leave! as it’s our right to remove.”

We will be taking some pictures of this fine old perfect specimen of a Torrey Pine. One arborist said because it had not been trimmed in forever, that it was one of the best specimens he has seen. There was no fear of it falling, it is a very healthy tree.

We will mourn its loss. My neighbor next door, whose family is also a long-term resident of Point Loma, will miss it, pine needles, sap, and all.

If anyone has actions to take, perhaps learning the route Del Mar has taken, to try to prevent removal of these beautiful, endangered trees in the future. I offer a few items of information on Torrey Pines (some from the web, and some from the successful fight to save the Long Branch Torrey Pine a couple of years ago in Ocean Beach).

  •   Pinus torreyana was one of the rarest pine species in the world in the early 20th century, with only around 100 trees surviving. However, with conservation the wild population has grown to about 2000 trees in present times (in the world).
  •  The California Native Plant Society considers it a rare species and does make it a species of concern.
  •  According to Wikipedia: The Torrey Pine, Pinus torreyana, is the rarest pine species in the United States, an endangered species growing only in San Diego County and on one of the Channel Islands, endemic to the coastal sage and chaparral ecoregion in the U.S. state of California.
  •  The International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, Red list of Threatened Species, Version 2013.1 ,, states

 o Pinus torreyana (Torrey Pine)

 o Status: Critically Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 2013.1

 o Population trend: decreasing


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

gailpowell August 26, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Very sad to see this beautiful tree destroyed. I have seen many Torrey Pines cut down on private property. There was one that was removed a few years ago near Famosa Slough that the snowy egrets loved to roost and nest in. Now the area is nothing more than a concrete parking lot to some over-priced condos. Maybe Mary and her neighbors could mitigate the damage done by her thoughtless neighbors and plant another tree and watch it grow to replace the one lost?


Jennifer Molenda August 27, 2013 at 8:22 am

This tree is 100 years old. There isn’t enough time to make up for losing this treasure.


editordude August 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Just to make our readers aware, this Torrey Pine still stands and there is an effort proceeding to save it.


Jennifer Molenda August 26, 2013 at 7:11 pm

These people need to realize that there is a greater good in preserving the precious native tree. All the neighbors will chip in to help maintain it. For the love of God, just DON’T take it down.


Catherine August 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Although I hate to see a beautiful old tree destroyed, I thing it would be only fair to try to find out why the owner wants to remove it. Perhaps he has a very good reason? This article only briefly mentions a root problem and suggests there could be some sort of solution to this without describing what that is. I don’t want to just assume he’s a tree-hating meanie.


Nikki T August 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm

First off Its a tree and If the owner doesn’t want to keep it they have the RIGHT to take it down. There is a good reason for the demolition of the tree, the neighbors and the owner is tired of fixing the pipes and the cement around the tree. Why don’t you focus your time on all the bums around the area since they are in need of help. I live on a street near by and I have the same issue with the tree in my yard and Its COMING DOWN!


Frank Gormlie August 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Nikki – Did you know that Torrey Pines are a protected species? What kind of tree are you cutting down?

Also, there is a chance that locals can raise money to repair any damages caused by the tree in question.


Nikki T August 27, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I know all about the Pines, and I know about paying for damages. Damages exceeding 20k plus! And many more to come. So what can we do about the bums?


Kevin S August 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm

This tree adorns my backyard as well. Needles in my pool have never bothered me, clean up has been no problem. The anticipated bleakness of my rear view horizon however does bother me. I respect the rights of the owner but wish for a less drastic approach to concerns over a tree that hasn’t been disruptive or damaging for almost a century.


Chrissy showgirl kieb August 27, 2013 at 4:30 pm

You are so smart Nikki T. But I love the trees I am a tree hugging hippie in OB but the roads on that hill are horrible what about raising money to fix the pot holes. My buggy doesn’t like to drive through them.


jma August 30, 2013 at 11:55 pm

When all the trees are gone because everyone doesnt want to ‘deal’ with them we will be sorry. No matter the cost hundred year old tree which was there first should not be cut done for cosmetic house reasons. Its sad they care so little.


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