Ocean Beach Residents Move on Nominating Torrey Pines to City’s Heritage Tree Program

by on September 30, 2016 · 2 comments

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

ob-torrey-protest-goodtree-distUpdate on Efforts to Protect OB’s Torrey Pine Trees

By Kris Schlech

Efforts to protect the remaining Torrey pine trees in Ocean Beach have moved forward. Eight trees, six of which are located along Saratoga Avenue, have been identified and submitted to the City’s Community Forest Advisory Board (CFAB) for nomination into the City’s Heritage Tree Program. Once these trees are evaluated and deemed eligible, they will be afforded additional protection in several ways.

Each tree will be assessed and evaluated in terms of overall health, and a monetary value will be determined. The monetary value is important as it is used to assess penalties, at a 3:1 ratio, for any damages or unnecessary death of the tree. For example, a large Torrey pine in Mission Beach was recently nominated and was estimated to have a value in the 5-figure range, so potential penalties for damage are significant.

ob-torrey-protest-80416-circle-goodIn addition, issues such as tree health, public safety, and overall function and value of each tree are given more extensive consideration. Alternatives such as sidewalk re-contouring, metal grating, corrective pruning and any other feasible alternatives to removal must be considered first. The trees are also then specifically identified in the City’s Master Tree Inventory, which is scheduled to be updated by 2019, and go on record as being labeled in one or more categories as Landmark, Historic, Parkway, or Grove trees of significance.

As suggested in earlier City communications, Save Peninsula Trees, on behalf of concerned OB citizens, has also submitted a list of questions to the Mayor’s office specifically regarding the past treatment of these rare and endangered pine trees, and generally regarding the City’s overall practices in the care and maintenance of urban trees.

The City currently has an estimated tree canopy coverage of between 5-7% and the Climate Action Plan proposes a projected canopy coverage of 15% by 2020, and 35% by the year 2035. Looking at anticipated fiscal budgets and timelines, and the fact that the City is currently removing many more trees than it is replacing, there are concerns about the lack of mitigation. Urban Forestry Standards suggest that, given the age, function, and service of the three OB Torrey pine trees already removed, these trees should be mitigated at much higher ratios, such as at 15:1 for a tree with a 4- foot girth.

Thus far in 2016, with the exception of one flame tree on Voltaire Street, the community has not seen replacement trees planted and are not aware of any specific discussions taking place on the matter. Combined with the knowledge of an additional 570 City-wide trees lost during the winter of 2015-2016, there is concern about the City’s ability to meet compliance with the Climate Action Plan and the City’s requirement to replace, with no net loss of function and service, the trees removed from the OB community.

The Save Peninsula Trees group is also trying to move forward with formal representation of District 2 on the CFAB Board. There are several vacancies on the Board currently.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom September 30, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Excellent activism on the part of Obeceans!


Debbie October 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Are Zapf and Wear supporting this? What about Point Loma Association?

Thank you for your efforts Save Pennisula Trees!


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