San Diego’s Forest Advisory Panel to Meet on Long Branch Torrey Pine – City Forester Wants It Removed – Wed., Aug. 8

by on August 7, 2018 · 9 comments

in Ocean Beach

The Long Branch Torrey Pine Has Protected Status

The City of San Diego’s Community Forest Advisory Board meets this week to discuss removing the large Torrey Pine on the 4600 block of Long Branch Avenue in northeast Ocean Beach.

The City forester has recommended removing the Torrey and to counter that view, the Ocean Beach representative will give reasons not to chop it down.  Last month the Torrey at 4633 Long Branch had a significant trimming by a city contractor, and local residents are pleased with its appearance.

The meeting is Wednesday, August 8th, at 11:45 a.m. and is in the Committee Room on the 12th floor of City Administration Building, 202 C Street, San Diego CA 92101 – City Hall.

Virginia Wilson is the representative from OB and Point Loma on the Community Forest Advisory Board and she will be present at the meeting and will be presenting the tree’s history and reasons to save it.

This particular Torrey Pine at 4633 Long Branch was literally saved by the community 7 years ago from the city’s buzzsaws. Back then in 2010-11, the city also wanted to remove it but locals mobilized, found an independent arborist who successfully proved the Torrey was healthy and its lean was natural and it wasn’t about to fall.

Since then, this particular Torrey won “protected tree status” as a Heritage Tree. This means the city has a number of requirements it must use before actually chopping the tree down.

Before recent early July 2018 trim.

Okay, so just what does it mean for a tree to have this status?

Issues such as tree health, public safety, and overall function and value of each tree are given more extensive consideration. Also, 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.

OBceans and Point Lomans are asked to come out to the meeting; come hear the city’s plans, give Virginia support and voice your opinion during public comment time.

Here for the agenda.

As the OB Rag reported in September 2016:

Torrey Pines as Heritage Trees

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.

In 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.

The group, Save Peninsula Trees, was the lead organization in having these Torreys designated as Heritage Trees.

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist August 8, 2018 at 8:38 am

Wish I could be there, but I have tremendous confidence in Virginia’s representation and her deep understanding of the laws and policies that protect this tree specifically, and all remaining Torrey pines in California. OB is very lucky to have Virginia as a rep on the CFAB Board, and fortunate that in 2016 Save Pennisula Trees captured at least some of the remaining precious Torreys and had them designated as heritage trees. I hope a few others from the community can attend and endorse the need and REQUIREMENT for ALL other alternatives to be considered.
Thanks, Virginia, looking forward to reading about how it goes :-)

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virginiamae August 8, 2018 at 10:20 am

Thank you, Kris. I wish you could be here, too! I will keep your vote of confidence in mind and do all that I can.

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Eric Nielsen August 8, 2018 at 4:05 pm

What were the results of the meeting?

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virginiamae August 8, 2018 at 5:43 pm

We did not have enough members present for a quorum, and could not vote on any of the action items on the agenda. We did discuss the fate of the tree. Watch 10 News at 6:00 tonight.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie August 8, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Virginia, thanks for the update. For those of us who didn’t watch the local news, can you relieve the suspense?

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie August 8, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Here’s Michael Chen’s of 10News report:
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The fate of a beloved torrey pine – saved from the chopping block more than seven years ago – is once again in question.

Along tree-lined Long Branch Avenue, one tree has captured the hearts of Jeff Ray’s family.

“My kids loved it. They touch it all the time. It’s wonderful,” said Ray.

The towering torrey pine is believed to be about 90 years old.

“It signifies the beauty of nature and the history of the area,” said Ray.

The history includes safety concerns. In 2010, with the sidewalks buckling, city experts deemed it a safety hazard, concerned the leaning tree would fall over.

Upset neighbors hired their own arborist. Eventually, the city relented, deeming the tree stabile and repairing the sidewalks.

Since then, the tree has been granted Heritage status, giving it extra protections. Still, safety concerns remain.

On Wednesday afternoon, a city advisory panel met and the city’s forester told the group the tree isn’t just learning. It’s actually on the move.

“The tree has moved an inch-and-a-half in the last two-and-a-half years. The city is recommending removal of the tree based on safety,” said City Forester Brian Widener.

Another panel member Virginia Wilson told 10news the tree’s lean is typical of torrey pines and doesn’t mean it will fall.

Neighbors told 10news they once again may hire their own expert. The panel is likely to vote and make a recommendation in September.

Last month, city crews trimmed the tree to reduce the weight. Torrey pines are considered an endangered species, growing mostly along the Southern California coast near San Diego and Santa Rosa Island, off Santa Barbara.
https://www.10news.com/news/years-later-saved-torrey-pine-may-come-down

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retired botanist August 9, 2018 at 10:09 am

Ugh, discouraging not to have a quorum, but on the plus side this should give Mr. Widener, who I believe is fairly recent to San Diego?, plenty of time to read CAREFULLY the laws and protections for Torrey pines….its not just the rules relevant to heritage trees, its the rules specific to the species as well.
And for OB to ask several more questions re the health of the Long Branch tree: Ok, so its moved, trees do move, and that doesn’t mean the tree is unhealthy. Has an INDEPENDENT arborist assessed the health of the tree? This was an issue with the Saratoga trees, and it is not the responsibility of the community to find and pay for a neutral assessment. And, even if the tree were to ultimately be deemed unhealthy, there are still many questions that would need to be addressed BEFOREHAND- notably the mitigation ratio (remember, what got replaced on Saratoga was apalling!) and the disposition of the felled wood. So this should just be the beginning of the dialog.

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Geoff Page August 9, 2018 at 2:50 pm

“The tree has moved an inch-and-a-half in the last two-and-a-half years.” I surely would like to see what they have to back that claim up. How did they measure this?

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virginiamae August 9, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Mr. Widener told us someone embedded a surveyor’s nail in the trunk and is using that to monitor the growth or ‘movement’ of the tree.

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