Here’s City’s Announcement of Taking Down Torrey Pine

by on August 11, 2016 · 10 comments

in Columns, Environment, Health, History, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

Here’s the announcement – without our comment – by the City that the Torrey Pine on Saratoga will be chopped down on Friday morning, August 12th.

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016

Katie Keach at 619-847-8274 or

Unsafe Tree to be Removed

Tree Cannot Be Saved, Must Be Removed to Protect Homes

San Diego – The City of San Diego today alerted community members that a failing tree would be removed from 4652 Saratoga Avenue in Ocean Beach on Friday, Aug. 12, starting at 7 a.m.

“Public safety is of the utmost importance, and while our goal is to maximize the environmental benefits of trees, we must balance the risk of trees with the preservation of trees,” said Jeremy Barrick, a Board-Certified Master Arborist and the City’s Urban Forester Program Manager. “We have monitored and reviewed this tree for several months and consensus among multiple arborists is that this tree must be removed to entirely eliminate the risk of catastrophic failure. In order to extend the benefits of this tree, we will be working with a local artist to repurpose the wood and work with the community in planting replacement trees.”

The Torrey pine is 73 feet tall and adjacent to where two other large Torrey pine trees were removed after one of this winter’s El Niño storms caused them to uplift and actively fail. Barrick inspected the subject tree multiple times since then, as did another Board-Certified Master Arborist and a Board-Certified Arborist. Their reports, along with one from a biologist confirming no active nesting sites in the tree exist, can be found on the City’s website.

The City will provide a portion of the tree’s trunk to an artist, and leave several branches onsite for neighbors to take for their own use, per the request of community members.

The City will consult with community members to determine appropriate replacement trees for the area. Also, as part of its Climate Action Plan, the City is completing an assessment of its current tree inventory, and will embark on an aggressive tree planting program to increase the tree canopy in all communities.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly August 11, 2016 at 4:50 pm

There is so much bullshit in this city notice. So much I don’t even want to spend the time contending with each point that is wrong.

Bottom line: the City and Atlas are relying on Atlas’ own evaluations which are all over the map, plus now Helix – which is a company with a very checkered history. So much for gaining the trust of the community.


Molly August 11, 2016 at 4:52 pm

How nice of the city to “consult” with community members to figure out what tree can go in there. These are the same community members the city has ignored this past week. The same members the city failed to notify when it was originally going to take the tree out a week ago.

Lori Zapf – you have failed us! Mayor Faulconer – you have failed us!


Old Hippie August 11, 2016 at 4:55 pm

No where in this announcement is the admission that the reason the city thinks the tree is now unhealthy is because the City/ Atlas removed large limbs some months away. Atlas worked on the tree and now wants to kill their patient. Once it’s taken down, nothing can replace it. None of us will be around for another towering tree to be in its place. Plus I like the way the notice suggests or implies that Torrey Pines are not “appropriate”.


triggerfinger August 11, 2016 at 4:59 pm

No, actually the reports can’t be found on the city’s website. Or at least I can’t find them.


triggerfinger August 11, 2016 at 5:22 pm

The only way to “entirely eliminate the risk of catastrophic failure” is to cut down all trees in SD. The arborist’s comment says nothing useful about the tree in particular.

Basically, the City of SD would rather cut trees down, then accept any risk. The city created that risk of litigation by neglecting to do their job. In this 2012 case a guy was paralyzed by a city tree in a windstorm. He won a $7.6million lawsuit mainly because of the city’s neglect:


Retired Botanist August 11, 2016 at 5:31 pm

I read the March 2016 Atlas report, agree it was “all over the place” and inconsistent, and I did not read anything close to “imminent danger to life and limb”…. After contacting Katie Keach, I couldn’t even find the news release on the City’s website. I agree with Molly, so much baloney in that news statement its hard to know where to start …what a disgrace.


virginiamae August 11, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Plus one, triggerfinger. I have been looking in vain through the city website for a week. The reports I found were posted on the internet by Fox 5 News. The City’s assessment, by Sergio Arias, concluded “LOW RISK”. The more recent of two assessments by Ron Matranga, of Atlas, on 06/13/16 rates the risk at “MODERATE” with a Recommended Inspection Interval of 12 months. That’s right, check on this tree ONCE a YEAR.

So the experts agree, the tree is not likely to drop a limb or fall down in the near future. We should have time to obtain an opinion from an expert who is not paid by either salary or contract by the City.


virginiamae August 11, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Also, in the meantime, the City could unveil the information that led to the multiple arborists’ consensus. The public is not protesting irrationally: Heritage Trees are entitled to special consideration. See Council Policy 900-19r, Section C in particular.


Debbie August 11, 2016 at 6:46 pm

CBS news channel 8 says the city says they won’t be cutting the tree down tomorrow??? I don’t trust that announcement. So now the city wants to work with community members of replacing the tree.

How about replacing Zapf, Wear, Keach and Faulconer?


triggerfinger August 12, 2016 at 10:41 am

Yes, they should probably be removed. They are an eminent threat to OB.


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