Wrong Tree Cut Down by City on Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach

by on May 13, 2016 · 13 comments

in Culture, Environment, Health, History, Ocean Beach


Stump of wrongly cut-down Chinese Flame tree on the 4800 block of Voltaire.

Apology and Pledge Demanded by City Not to Cut Trees Without Community Approval

It appears that the City of San Diego – or at least its hired work crew – cut down the wrong tree on Voltaire Street in OB.

On May 3rd the company hired by the City cut down a Chinese Flame Tree on the 48oo block of Voltaire. Residents and local businesses were told that the tree was cut down because it was causing cracks in the sidewalk.

Locals were outraged – and the OB Rag has been following this outrage.

But in a tragic twist, our friends at The Green Store / Center – right across from where the tree was cut down – learned from the Mayor’s office on Thursday, May 12th, that indeed the wrong tree had been destroyed.

The work crew apparently was supposed to chop down a pine tree just east of the Chinese Flame on the same side of the block.

Green Store activists immediately reacted adversely to the implication that the pine tree was then next on the chopping block.

The pine tree had been the subject of at least one complaint from a neighbor, but the neighbor’s request to the City was for it to trim it, not  destroy it.

Both trees – as well as hundreds of others in OB – stand in the right-of-way, the responsibility of the City’s.

In response to this adverse reaction, John Ly in the Mayor’s office made some calls – and was able to report back to the Green Store folks that the nearby pine tree would only be trimmed. And then the City would monitor it every couple of months.

Here is the comment to the OB Rag by Kip Kruegar of the Green Store, made on Thurs., May 12, 2016….

The Green Store just got official notification from the mayor’s office that the wrong tree was destroyed on the 4800 block of Voltaire street last week. They stated that the Chinese Flame (a wonderful street tree) was not to be cut, but that a nearby Pine Tree had received the death sentence.

When told that this did not seem like a very smart thing to do either, the mayor’s office got back to The Green Store & said that the Pine would be only trimmed & then monitored every couple months. Well there you have it! Either someone at the city or Atlas tree doesn’t know how to read a work order, or they don’t know a canopy tree from a pine tree.

Also, most OBceans (90%) know that we need our trees & that we love our trees, not just for us to enjoy, but for the future of the planet… you know, Earth!

Thank you Kip and the rest of the Green Store.

In the meantime, Ocean Beach is left with a stump – and the fears that the City might do this again any day now. We cannot allow this to happen again.

First, on behalf of tree preservation activists in Ocean Beach, the OB Rag demands that the City of San Diego issue an immediate apology to the residents of the community for the destruction of this healthy Chinese Flame Tree.

Second, we demand that from now on – the City receive approval from the community before it cuts down or severely trims any tree in the right-of-way in Ocean Beach.

Third, we demand that the City provide better over-sight of the private crews it hires to cut and trim trees in OB.

And to our fellow beings in Ocean Beach – we ask:

Request to See Required Work Permits Before any Crew Cuts or Trims a Tree in ROW

When you see any work crew either about to cut or trim any trees in Ocean Beach in the right-of-way, please ask to see the required permit. Work crews are supposed to be able to produce any permits upon request.

Get Word of What’s Happening to Either the Green Store or OB Rag

If you do happen upon any work crews cutting or trimming trees in OB, please either contact the OB Green Store 619-225-1083 or the OB Rag obragblog@gmail.com – or both preferably.

Force City to Get Approval for Tree Cuttings from OB Planning Board

Don’t allow the City to cut down any more trees needlessly and the only way we can do this is to demand that the City follow a better process, by getting approval from the community in the form of a vote by the OB Planning Board, by having better over-sight of the private crews it hires, and having a more healthy respect for the trees that provide canopy, nature, beauty, shade, homes to thousands of birds and animals – not to mention oxygen for humans.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Posey May 13, 2016 at 10:30 am

OMG! I believe Kip planted that tree many years ago and watched it grow. He planted many trees in OB on the ‘right of way’s with support from the city and now they do this? If you see Kip, thank him.


Posey May 13, 2016 at 10:46 am

The most beautiful collection of trees in OB on Saratoga St.-cut down without notice. Did they really need to be cut down or was that just a dumb mistake? Those trees were Torrey Pines which are indigenous only to San Diego and a channel Island.


Tyler May 13, 2016 at 11:28 am

Stupid by the city. But also stupid for some jerk to graffiti the sidewalk.


Lori Saldaña May 13, 2016 at 1:00 pm

What a horrible mistake.
Please add one more thing to your list: request that the city plant 2 more trees for the mature one that has been lost. And require that they deep-water the new trees, or assist others to do so, to ensure good, deep root growth so these cracks from surface roots are avoided.

This is what happens when the city has only ONE Urban Forester/Arborist to oversee our city’s tree resources. Trees are an essential part of the Climate Action Plan.

As Mayor, I will put more people to work managing existing trees (not cutting them), and begin planning for adding more trees in the future to encourage walking and cycling, to help with the shading and cooling of adjacent buildings, and absorbing CO2.


obkatforever May 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Was it Atlas Tree Company that cut it down? I had to call them yesterday regarding one of their drivers doing work on Cape May. He almost hit me with his huge orange truck as he was trying to make a u-turn in the middle of the street at Cape May and Ebers; too lazy to go around the block. When I honked at him he stuck out his tongue like it was my fault. I went back to get pictures of his truck and him and he got out of the truck and starting yelling at me saying “What are you going to do, I’m here come on.” I didn’t get out of my car but I sure was able to text the photos to his company when I called to complain.


Colleen Dietzel May 13, 2016 at 6:05 pm

I spoke to the urban forester for the city, Jeremy Barrick, today. His is a newly appointed position and they are busy collecting data. An inventory of our trees hasn’t been done since 2002. He will work with our newly appointed city planner to the OBPB, Sara Toma, and will be in contact with Sergio Arias, the city arborist, about are most recent concerns. People can also attend the Community Forest Advisory Board meetings. They meet on the 2nd Wednesdays at City Hall, 12th floor, conference room. Next one is June 8th at 11:45 a.m. The link is : https://www.sandiego.gov/planning/boardcomm/cfab#contact. I stressed to him the importance of the community being notified of any tree removal. He said most tree removals are complaint driven. He also suggested that people can nominate a tree for protection under Conserve a Tree program. Since he is new to San Diego I filled him in on the uniqueness of our community and that we are quite active in trying to protect it. I recommended he checks out the OB Rag for extensive coverage of the tree issue in OB. He sounds like he wants to work with the our community.


OB Mercy May 16, 2016 at 9:33 am

Here here!!! PLEASE encourage them to plant TWO more trees in light of this ridiculously careless mistake!!


Geoff Page May 16, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Sergio Arias has the title of “horticulturist” for the city. He is the one who single-handedly made the decision to cut down the Torreys on Saratoga. He based his decision on on a quick report done by an arborist working for Atlas Tree, the company that got the contract to cut the trees down. He was present the day the trees were killed because my actions forced him to be there and he absolutely refused to postpone the executions stating that the trees presented an “imminent danger.” Funny thing is though, the city has no definition or guidelines for declaring anything an “imminent danger.” Anyone who sees a crew getting ready to cut down trees should demand to see a permit for the work and a traffic control permit. These have to be on site.


OB Mercy May 16, 2016 at 4:04 pm

And then lay your fucking body down in front of that tree and refuse to move!

Call the OB Rag and then text me (I write for the Reader) and let’s get that story as much out there as possible!! 818-219-0512

This is plain MURDER!!


Lori Saldaña May 16, 2016 at 7:28 pm

great information Colleen- thanks for contacting Jeremy.

It’s been 14 years since the last tree inventory? No wonder we are having so many problems, including deaths, associated with falling trees. Awful… no way to manage such important resources.

Thank you again!


kh May 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Run the damn sidewalk around the tree then. I see this done in other parts of OB. There is plenty of right-of-way to accomplish this. The ROW behind the curb is 13 feet wide!


Debbie May 17, 2016 at 7:57 pm
Lori Saldaña July 15, 2016 at 1:35 pm

FYI, similar thing happened in Clairemont. See: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2016/jul/15/stringers-perfectly-healthy-tree-clairemont/

I posted a link to the helpful info here.

Thanks again Colleen and others for being good advocates for trees in OB and elsewhere!


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