Torrey Pine: OB Asked for a Community Forum – Here’s the City’s Answer

by on August 22, 2016 · 60 comments

in Culture, Environment, Health, History, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

OB Torrey cut truckThe Ocean Beach community had asked the City to hold a community forum on the health and dangers of the Torrey Pine in the middle of the 4600 block of Saratoga Avenue.

Monday morning, bright and early, came the City’s response.

Out before 6:30 this morning – Monday – yellow police tape had been spread out, a dozen police officers stood their positions and Atlas Tree Service showed up and began cutting down the Torrey named Esperanza – Hope. By 9:30 a.m. all the branches were down – including at least one with a birds’ nest – and all that remained was the huge trunk.

OB Torrey cut people

Neighbors and reporters at the scene

Twenty residents were present – along with a half dozen TV cameras and reporters. And some City staff were on hand, as well.

Some residents were very angry; some cried – most were upset. A few curious neighbors came by to see what’s up. And some of them became emotional.

OB Torrey Cut before

“Before” – Monday August 22

The chopping down of the Torrey Pine culminated a 2 and half week stand-off between the City and Atlas on one side, and residents, supporters, biologists on the other side.

OB Torrey Cut nest ed

Here’s one nest found

But today’s action represents the utter failure of the city to communicate adequately with residents, an utter failure of the city being transparent around this issue of the tree, and the utter failure of city leaders and politicians to even try to resolve the stand-off. The mayor and Councilwoman Zapf have been no-shows during this entire episode, their aides – present at other events – have not showed up or even returned concerned residents’ calls.

OB Torrey cut city peo ed

City representatives can’t say who decided to chop the Torrey. city rep Jeremy Barrick – in yellow vest, left, Ed Lenderman – reporter, Katie Keach – City PR person, neighbor Kevyn Lettau.

Late last week – on Thursday, August 18, John Ambert, chair of the OB Planning Board, sent city representatives a letter with attached arborist’s reports, requesting a dialogue with the city in the form of a community forum. Ambert had met with these same reps a week earlier.

No one in the city returned Ambert’s communication. He confirmed that this morning.

But Jeremy Barrick – from the City’s wastewater and streets division – had heard on Friday, August 19th, that the City was moving on the Torrey today. Yet he didn’t response to Ambert either. I asked Jeremy this morning why he didn’t respond. He told me that he had read the community-funded arborist report – where the arborist stated that the tree was of “low risk” – and didn’t think there was any new information.

He would not say whose decision it actually was to call out the cutters.

Katie Keach, the head PR person from the city on the project, also could not say who made the decision.  When asked directly who made the decision by several people, including reporters, both Keach and Barrick simply answered, “the city”. Keach told this reporter that she found out about what was happening from the news this morning.

So, here was the community observing the giant limbs – many of them larger than trees – being cut down – and no one from the City was taking responsibility.

The last couple – almost three weeks – since it was announced at the last OB Planning Board meeting on Wed., August 3rd that the City was cutting down the Torrey Pine, has been very hectic for neighbors and environmental activists in OB.

A dozen people showed up on Thursday, Aug. 4th, circled the tree to prevent any removal as Atlas was there to do a job. Then 19-year-old Crystal Rose Speros climbed up into the tree. That brought work to a complete stop. Atlas tree crews packed up and drove off.

The city was relying on several reports – 2 from Atlas’ arborists – a clear conflict of interest (‘sure, tree is failing, hire us to cut it down’), and one from its own arborist – who incidentally did his own study, and also found the tree of low risk. This report came out in April, after Atlas had cut off a large limb.

There was a daily vigil set up by neighbors for nearly 2 weeks (during the work week) with people taking shifts. A gofundme page was set up – and by this past weekend, a group had formed – Friends of Peninsula Trees – and there had been over a $1,000 raised.

Another independent arborist was enlisted, and master arborist Bradley Brown studied the tree, and made a risk assessment that labeled the tree of “low risk” and not in any imminent danger of failing or falling or collapsing.  It was Brown’s report that Ambert had sent the city.

In addition, biologists sighted several birds’ nests in the Torrey – with at least one of them active. Cutting down a tree with an active nest of migratory birds is a federal offense. There were efforts to get the US Wildlife and Fish agency involved – but during the entire stand-off, the feds did not make their presence known.

Since early August the city has been saying the tree was unstable, failing and needed to be removed. But not one report from the City or Atlas stated that the tree was in imminent danger of failing or falling. Arborist Brown stated in his report that the tree was healthy and would not collapse or fail for at least a year.

Even since the city began its campaign, it has relied on an attitude of fear about Torreys among the public. Everyone believes a woman was killed in PB by a Torrey,  and yes, it was unfortunately a Torrey, (and there is evidence to show that the city deliberately overwatered it )but in fact it was an Oak tree. The trees have been demonized – but history has shown that Torreys are some of the most stable trees around. They don’t fall.

Another issue had also bubbled up among some residents out there this morning. And that was the matter of what was going to happen with the wood. The City had made noises that it would donate the wood to an artist of the community’s choosing in order to carve some kind of tribute. There were fears that the artist was out of the loop, and that Atlas would simply take all the wood and sell it, and reap more benefits from their work.

Others didn’t care about the issue and some even said they would refuse the wood out of respect for Esperanza.

It wasn’t only the Torrey that was chopped down this morning. It was also community relations between OB and the city that were chopped down as well. A lot of damage was done today. And some newbie activists learned an important lesson through tears and anguish this Monday a.m.

On an issue like this – where the city is acting in a very non-transparent, manipulative way, community members cannot work with the city – they/ we have to take a strong position and stick with it, and not be lulled into complacency or despair. This is grassroots politics 101. The city clearly cannot be trusted – which is what happened this morning.

The city broke its trust with Ocean Beach.

[Editor: I’ll be writing an updated time line on this sordid history very soon.]


{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Elliott Blackwood August 22, 2016 at 11:16 am

RIP Esperanza.


Debbie August 22, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Thanks all you people that re-elected Faulconer today’s action show what kind of man he really is and how he feels about the the people in this community……..YUCK!!!!!!!


Susie August 22, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Worse will happen in case he gets to be Govenour…. Which he clearly is pursuing.
Watch and see. He is a Puppet on a String.
Lets have a recall !


Molly August 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Believe me, I didn’t vote for Faulconer. I hope to work to defeat him next time around.


OB Joe August 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Christ all mighty! I’d hoped that this wouldn’t happen. RIP Esperanza, RIP OB.


Old Hippie August 22, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Now we have to ensure the city doesn’t even get near the last remaining torrey pines on that block. And OB has got to do a better job in protecting them.


OB Joe August 22, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Completely agree. Don’t get involved with the city if there’s a problem; find our own solutions as a community, the “OB Way” we always said. Cannot trust these city burrocrats – even if they have a biology minor.

If John Ly or Conrad Wear show up at the OBTC meeting Wednesday, I think I’ll bring some rotten tomatoes to throw at them. Be forewarned John and Conrad.


Old Hippie August 22, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Hey throwing rotten fruit and veggies at pols is a old-fashioned method. Tell Ly and Wear to wear old suits Wednesday night at the town council meeting.


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2016 at 1:17 pm

The OB Rag is certainly not condoning the throwing of rotten vegetables at political representatives, but we do acknowledge that it is as American as apple pie to do it.


OB Joe August 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Ok, I will, hey John Ly and Conrad Wear – wear your old clothes at the meeting coming up next Wed night at the Masonic Temple.


Molly August 22, 2016 at 12:46 pm

My money is on that they won’t dare to show up.


Local One August 22, 2016 at 1:08 pm

Lori and Kevin…….next time you need the community’s support, forget about it!
Life is long and so is OB’s memory.


retired botanist August 22, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Two words should suffice: Beyond Angry.


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2016 at 1:13 pm

A couple of things people should know: a whole bunch of neighbors met last Sat, and to a person they were opposed to allowing the city to chop down the tree. Some of us had plans to go to the Wed OB Town Council meeting to make statements about the tree – but now all that is moot.


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2016 at 1:15 pm

One of the things that I just can’t get over: the total disrespect shown the OB Planning Board and its chair, John Ambert. John sent the city a communication asking for a dialog and they totally ignored him and his requests. John was speaking / writing for many of us and this is what we get.

I’m beginning to get the picture that the mayor and the city would rather that our local planning committees just go away.


Tessa August 22, 2016 at 4:05 pm

I would rather that the mayor and our other elected officials just go away….
Complete dissing of community sentiment here. Perhaps the tree trimming service has “friends in high places”, hmmm?
I’m hoping poor Esperanza can be sawed/cut up, and each buy a piece of it, raising money for a good cause, of which we have many here in O B. A fitting momento each piece would be, reminding us that the need for action and vigilance never goes away.


Posey August 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

Who is more of a liaison with our city than the Planning Board Chair on this issue?
NO ONE! Zapf and Faulconer have a lot of nerve to dis OB like that. Many of us called Zapf, Faulconer and Atlas days before Esperanza was cut down. We told them to postpone cutting down until more info was shared with community. I guess they didn’t want us to know that the city report said the tree was ok. The killing of an icon tree was their answer.


Molly August 22, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Then why don’t we make it a plan to get as many OBcians there at the town council meeting, without anything rotten, and when Faulconer’s representative gets up to speak we all turn our backs on him, – same with Zapf’s representative.

BTW, if we can’t complain about what just occurred today at the town council meeting, then where can we complain? Thats what the town council meetings are for – to air community issuces and concerns. How could the council object to us talking about how the city just dissed OB in the shadow of the tree?


Old Hippie August 22, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Sounds like a plan. The OBTC meets this Wed, Aug 24 at the Masonic Temple at 7pm;

And also there’s a Raglan benefit Wed night for the OB Green Store. Go to the meeting and then go drink.


Posey August 24, 2016 at 11:22 am

We can complain at the City Council meeting. I believe people get two minutes to talk when one signs up for public comment. You can say a lot in two minutes.


Marc Snelling August 22, 2016 at 3:05 pm

What a waste. Hopefully San Diego will never have an actual tree removal crisis because the City and it’s contractors seem to have little idea what they are doing. Emerald Ash Borer showed up in North America in 2002. Since then our city has had tens of thousands of trees removed. Whole forests are gone. Waiting lists for tree removal have been 5000+. These are acual problem trees where the crown is totally dead and the tree goes back to suckers. The City has spent millions on the insecticde TreeAzin – even though it does not guarantee tree survival. It’s so bad they are estimating by 2018 any untreated Ash trees will be dead- or about 25% of all urban trees. Ecology Ottawa estimates we will lose 20 million trees in urban and rural areas over the next three years.

What were once attractive tree-lined streets in older neighborhoods are now barren with depressed property values. Hard to believe San Diego CHOSE to take a tree like this. To quote City of San Diego RFP No 10038012-14-W (for tree trimming services) “Any employee who is found to be incompetent, troublesome, disorderly or otherwise objectionable, or who fails or refuse to perform work properly and acceptable, will immediately be removed from working on this project. “


rick callejon August 22, 2016 at 3:33 pm

“Any employee who is found to be incompetent…will be removed…” If only councilmember Zapf were held to that standard


Mike Cassel August 22, 2016 at 3:59 pm

This article contains several inaccuracies. I’ve lived on this block for over ten years. This torrey pine, like the others, receives more water than it should due to irrigation runoff. This causes them to develop a more extensive sub-lateral root system and makes them top heacy. Kinda like taking steroids and skipping leg day, every day. Torrey pines that aren’t over-watered grow to 40-60 feet tall. The tree was also near the end of its lifespan, typically 100-120 years. I don’t think it was an imminent danger, but that could only be defined with daily monitoring. As a resident of this block I miss the two trees we lost this past winter and I will miss this one as well. There were five arborist reports from four arborists. Only one report deemed the tree safe.


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2016 at 9:46 pm

No, Mike,it doesn’t.


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2016 at 9:52 pm

But no, Mike you’re wrong. Of all 4 arborists’ reports, only 1 deemed the tree to be “high risk”; the others: 2 for “low risk” and 1 for “moderate risk”.


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Here’s a quote from one of the news reports : “The conifer, which was about 80 feet tall and had a diameter of about 6 feet, fell across Ingraham Street near Fortuna Avenue about 3:15 p.m.,…”

And Channel 10 reported: “massive pine fell …”


Mike Cassel August 22, 2016 at 11:05 pm

I am only replying to this response because I feel slighted. As soon as I posted my comment I regretted it. Nicki Carano was a beautiful soul and the thousands of people whose lives she touched, personally, from a distance, or through her music, will readily attest to that. I have twice asked the OB Rag to remove the link I posted and have been twice ignored. Nobody needs a visual reminder of Nicki’s untimely demise. I illustrated the false OB Rag reporting that she was killed by an oak. All things being equal, I wish I’d kept my mouth shut.

Nicki’s death far eclipses the removal of this torrey pine to me. I have lived on this block of Saratoga Ave for over a decade. I can say with confidence, that by proximity alone, I have loved these trees more than most. Here’s some torrey pine knowledge:

“In its native habitat, Pinus torreyana is found in the Coastal sage scrub plant community, growing slowly in dry sandy soil. The root system is extensive. A tiny seedling may quickly send a taproot down 60 centimeters (24 in) seeking moisture and nutrients. A mature tree may have roots extending 75 meters (246 ft). Exposed trees battered by coastal winds are often twisted into beautiful sculptural shapes resembling large bonsai, and rarely exceed 12 m (39 ft) tall.”

“The presence of Torrey pines along the semi-arid coast of San Diego and Santa Rosa Island (rainfall less than 15 inches per year) is probably a relic population of a much more extensive Ice Age distribution.”

The torrey pines on the 4600 block of Saratoga received far more water than that in the form of irrigation run off. Basically, assholes who needed a lawn in a coastal desert. Therefore, their taproot was underdeveloped while their sub-lateral root system was enhanced. Basically the trees on this street have been given steroids for 50+ years and skipped leg day every day. That explains their abnormal size.

Now, as somebody who lives in a ramshackle cottage in this amazing neighborhood with a beautiful wife and nine month old daughter I am insulted that the OB Rag considers our lives to be so inconsequential that a few 80 ton trees should remain until “imminent danger”. Really? I have watched the sidewalk bulge beneath that tree for years. I’ve walked past this tree at least 10 times a week, you have no right to question my attachment to this tree. Long after you’ve dragged your rickety soapbox to the next shouting point I will still wake up, leave my house, and remember those magnificent trees. How well did you know them?

I am an environmental engineer. I earn my living by assessing, monitoring, and remediating large scale pollution, specifically in soil and groundwater. No change comes from criticism alone.

And I ask, once again, out of respect for the grieving, please remove the link I posted of that photo. I harbor no expectation of improvement in your reporting.


Frank Gormlie August 23, 2016 at 7:36 am

Mike, I removed that link from your comment.

Otherwise, your comments fall into the “fear of Torreys” generated by unwitting mass media and ignorant souls.


Geoff Page August 23, 2016 at 3:33 pm

I’m going to have to take issue with this part of what you wrote, Mr. Cassel:

“Therefore, their taproot was underdeveloped while their sub-lateral root system was enhanced. Basically the trees on this street have been given steroids for 50+ years and skipped leg day every day. That explains their abnormal size.”

My first problem is your comment that the tap root was underdeveloped. You have no way of knowing that because the root was underground. My second problem is that you seem to be implying that the taproot is what gives the tree its stability. It may help some but the extensive root system of the tree probably is more responsible for its stability. The tap root is a single root growing down while the rest of the root system spreads out all around the tree and can grow as far as 250 plus feet from the tree. Check out these two links:
A six-inch Torrey pine seedling* can have a taproot two or three feet long. This will grow down rapidly, then branch out when it reaches bedrock. The roots will go anywhere they can find a little water and a little nutrient. By the time a tree is 40 feet high it may have roots reaching out 200 feet.
The Torrey pine is planted as ornamental trees, with better soil and with controlled watering, it lends to being a fast growing tree to heights of 148 feet.

There is a tree in Carpenteria that is 136 feet tall.

No, these three trees were all fine. The city wanted them gone so they would not have to maintain them or fix the sidewalks and the streets, it’s that simple. The trees were not the problem. Check out the one on Long Branch they said was in danger of falling five or six years ago that the community saved. It is still there even after the high winds we had. Living proof of how wrong hte city is.


retired botanist August 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Yes, and the Carpenteria tree is also 127 years old …SD City arborists take note. Torrey pines should be a source of pride, not a symbol of impending doom. Coronado seems to get it right…


Geoff Page August 23, 2016 at 5:31 pm

The shame of this is that the guy making these decisions isn’t a city arborist, his title is “horticulturist” and his name is Sergio Arias. He has some arborist credentials but apparently not enough for the city to give him that title, which means he should not be making these decisions.


Marc Snelling August 24, 2016 at 6:26 am

Wow. By that standard I could be evaluating trees for San Diego with my horticultural certification. If doesn’t take more than common sense to recognize many tree problems. Guess sense is not so common for City contractors.


Marc Snelling August 23, 2016 at 6:45 am

Plants have lateral and tap roots. What is a sub-lateral root system? It has another root system growing under the lateral roots?


Mike Cassel August 23, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Yes, sub-lateral (or tertiary) refers to the network of roots branching from the main lateral roots.


Marc Snelling August 24, 2016 at 6:32 am

Can you point me to an article describing “sub-lateral roots”?


unwashedwallmartThong August 22, 2016 at 4:06 pm

A$$holes from city gummint.
Is there a State program that offers saplings for property owners to plant?
Let’s plant trees now, so that future children will know what a tree is.


Different Opinion August 22, 2016 at 8:16 pm

As someone who knew the “woman who killed in PB” – I’d like to just say that I’d prefer the city cut down 50 Torrey’s (or Oaks, or whatever) if it could prevent the senseless death of a person. She was a kind, loving person and WOULD NOT APPRECIATE being brought up in this article, especially in this way.

I can’t tell you if the city’s decision was right or wrong, or maybe right-but-done-wrong, but please remember that the city does need to do its best to protect…


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2016 at 9:50 pm

So, you would completely denude the entire city due to this one death? Take down all the trees cause they might fall. Why not remove all the cars cause they might crash and kill someone. We’re all sorry that this person was lost – but we cannot remove all hazards of modern life because sometimes they injure humans. We cannot remove all risks from our lives. We just can’t. When our kids run into the ocean, they might drown – so do we wall off the Pacific? Do we wall off Sunset Cliffs because of all the people who fall off of them?


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Rightly or wrongly, people including the city keep using this incident involving your dear friend and OBcean as a way to demonize Torrey Pines and frighten people in believing all the Torreys are dangerous; this was not a Torrey Pine, but a different kind of pine, a conifer.


Mike Cassel August 22, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Torrey pines are unsuitable for encroachment placement, period. And every Torrey pine located in an encroachment, or city right-of-way, was put there by the hands of man. Torrey pines, much like lions, ARE dangerous outside of their native habitat. Want to see a Torrey pine? Go to the park.

The city’s decision may have been hasty but it erred on the side of caution.


Mike Cassel August 22, 2016 at 11:26 pm

All pine trees are conifers Frank.


Marc Snelling August 23, 2016 at 6:39 am

Torrey Pines are like lions? So what is a Eucalyptus a grizzly bear? And how about scores of 60 foot+ dead Ash trees? A pack of wolves? Franks post says pines are conifers, not naming it a ‘Conifer.’


Mike Cassel August 23, 2016 at 9:59 am

I’m sorry Marc, I thought the analogy was obvious. I was comparing Torrey pines planted in a city encroachment is not a Torrey pine in its native habitat. It was put there by human intervention. If there are any houses in the area, and in encroachments there typically are, those trees will be an eventual threat. It may take 80-90 years, but it will be an eventual threat. I likened it to having a lion cub as a pet. Eventually that cub is going to grow and become an eventual threat. As I type this I see how vague an analogy it actually is, so allow me to re-phrase.

I don’t think anybody should be afraid of any tree in its native habitat. Human interference poses the eventual threat by placing living objects in non-sustainable environments. That was my poorly explained take home point. I fear human interference.


retired botanist August 23, 2016 at 7:38 am

The confusion around the PB tree is understandable as NBC (and picked up by others) reported it as an oak. And conifers, evergreens, even “Christmas” trees (which might be pine, spruce, or fir) are frequently misidentified by the public. You’re an environmental engineer, Frank is a writer.

None of the reports used the word ‘safe”. They use the industry language by referring to risk levels. There are only three: Low, Medium, and High, and they are “quantified” by using a risk assessment matrix. If there were four categories, maybe “safe” would be one, but based on life in general, no one is going to use a word defined as “not able or likely to be hurt or harmed in any way”- that would require a crystal ball.


retired botanist August 23, 2016 at 7:44 am

Correction- I meant “moderate” not ‘medium”…just to be specific


Dave Latham August 22, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Nicki was killed when a pine tree fell on her car – she was driving from PB to Winston’s. I don’t understand why Frank would fabricate an oak tree (or fail to fact check). I’m also not a big fan of the cavalier way her death was mentioned in the article (throwaway, erroneous sentence in the middle of a paragraph). Do trees matter more to you then people, Frank?


Frank Gormlie August 23, 2016 at 7:38 am

Dave, you have completely missed the point. First, I didn’t “fabricate” anything, my friend, but repeated one of several news articles about the incident. Second, her death has been used by several, including the city and including the mass media, to make us very, very afraid of Torrey Pines. Why don’t you go after them?


Geoff Page August 23, 2016 at 10:04 am

I went over to PB to investigate what kind of tree fell on that unfortunate woman because I did not trust the city or the media. I found pine needles across the street and around where the trunk was and saw that it was indeed a Torrey Pine. The needles are very distinctive, five needles to a bundle and when you stroke them back toward where they are joined, it feels a little rough, like a cat’s tongue. But, I also discovered something else.

The street in front of where the tree was had a very large asphalt patch, it was the only patch anywhere near the tree and it was not new, it was not something done after the tree fell. The curb and gutter were also new. This reinforced a theory of mine regarding the trees on Saratoga. The city sent a crew out there a couple of years ago to replace several large concrete street panels. In the process, they dug down a couple of feet and I am convinced that they severed all the roots at the curb. In fact, the arborist report from Atlas mentions this as a possible cause of the alleged instability of the trees there. I think the city also damaged the one on Ingraham. By severing the street side roots, there was nothing to counterbalance the tree on that side. It would be like cutting off the front of your foot. On the opposite side is an apartment building and the roots there were also compromised.

I believe the city, either deliberately or carelessly, damaged the root systems of the trees on Saratoga and decided to take them down to avoid their own liability for destabilizing them after seeing what happened in PB. Esperanza was damaged by improper trimming making it “unstable” because one side of the canopy was heavier than the other. But, in that case, all they needed to do was trim it. I did not have the heart to go see it but I’d make book that there is relatively new concrete in the street in front of where it was.

We got no help from anyone at the city. I think we should start an effort to recall Zapf. I’d like to recall the mayor but his support is probably too strong citywide. But, Zapf could be vulnerable and it would be a fitting memorial to these trees if this unresponsive, unintelligent, and uncaring councilperson got the boot. Then, get someone in there who will at least give the mayor some grief for the rest of his term.


Frank Gormlie August 23, 2016 at 10:28 am

Geoff, thank you for clarifying this, and we stand corrected.


Geoff Page August 23, 2016 at 10:51 am

Frank, I wasn’t correcting you or The Rag, I was correcting the establishment media that just could not seem to get this right. You do a good job and sometimes that requires relying on the media. They were all more or less in agreement this was an oak tree, which made relying on them seem a pretty safe bet, unfortunately. The city’s “arborist” insisted to me that tree was a Torrey so that was why I went to see for myself because I did not, do not, trust the guy. He was right but that trip also showed me that the city may have been liable for that tree falling. I hope that anyone who knows the poor woman who died, and if her family is suing over her death, contacts their lawyer with this information.


Sally August 23, 2016 at 4:08 pm

I’d be happy to help with an effort to recall Zapf.


nostalgic August 23, 2016 at 6:11 am

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park contains some small Torrey Pines as part of their native plant program. The drought has been hard on Torrey Pines everywhere, the ones in the park are being carefully monitored as they work to get established, and there has been a recent interest in planting more.

As a member of Arbor Day Foundation, I see that they offer a booklet called “Tree-Sidewalk Conflicts.” Perhaps we should order one for the city. The City of San Diego does have some sort of designation as a Tree City, although I can’t find it right now. You don’t have to be an arborist to see that the giving the same company the contract to decide which trees are cut down and them paying them to do so might create a bias in favor of cutting down as many trees as possible.


OB John August 23, 2016 at 9:18 am

Not a statement from either Councilperson Zapf ‘s or Mayor Falconner’s office? One would think that a reporter from one of the several local media new outlets would ask for comment!?!? I never even heard a “No comment” type statement. Wow.

The orders to chop down now (without requested community forum) this Torrey Pine yesterday came from somwhere folks. These two policians are banking this tragic story will blow over and not affect future campaigns. So, I’d assume it is up to OB to nix that “plan”.


Tyler August 23, 2016 at 9:51 am

The hyperbole in here is almost too much to bear.


OB Dude August 23, 2016 at 11:43 am

Time for your medication :-)


Micporte August 23, 2016 at 11:35 am

The death of a tree is the death of us all…better (for the future) to enable the tree than the street…my heart cries for the indiscriminate death of trees in our city zoning…but I actually have faith in our elected officials to begin thinking on this….Torrey,pines are indigenous species, rare, survivors… Like grunion…get the trucks and seaweed scrapers off the beaches, let nature have a chance in SD…..break up concete, let the trees live, let the beach live, that would be my wish, impressive response, hope the city pays attention.


Frank Gormlie August 23, 2016 at 11:49 am

Our friend Doug Porter over at San Diego Press wrote up a nice report: “Black Eye for the City as the Ocean Beach Torrey Falls” -


Renee Owens August 23, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Thanks for this Frank. Make no mistake, now that the City has forged ahead with impunity and cut the 3rd Heritage tree on that street – Community protests, nesting birds, federal and local laws, and healthy tree be damned – they will be gunning for the rest of the large Torrey pines on the block and in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile the U.S. Forest Service just reported that 66 million trees in California have succumbed to drought since 2010, and San Diego’s own Climate Action Plan commits to increasing the urban tree canopy to 35% coverage by 2035. At present we are only at 4 to 7%. The City is on a trajectory of destruction based on fear-mongering about theoretical lawsuits. When it comes to wildlife, whether it be trees, seals, parrots, you name, it, it appears coexistence is out of Faulconer’s barbaric purview.

City ordinance says Torrey pines – an endangered wild species – cannot be harmed. The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act says you cannot disturb nesting birds – like the crows observed by two independent professional ornithologists nesting in this tree within the past week. The independent arborist report said the tree was healthy and low risk. The City wasted how many tax dollars on a over dozen cops to keep people at a distance to avoid the media spectacle of a tree sit-in that was poised to happen.

This is more than a black eye, this is a pattern that will only get worse without an aggressive stance from the public.


Petey August 23, 2016 at 7:33 pm

So the city is breaking its own and federal laws?


Posey August 24, 2016 at 11:56 am

Wow! The comments are spreading like wild fire! This must hearten people who loved the tree. Hey, Conrad, Zapf and Faulconer better see all this. A recall sounds great. OB is small, but I’ve been told a recall scares the hell out of politicians, and even if they are not recalled, it really damages future political ambitions.


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