Reader Rant: Once Again the City Is Not Listening to Ocean Beach

by on November 19, 2018 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

The city is not listening to our community of Ocean Beach about our Torrey Pines.

By Colleen Dietzel

After attending the Community Forest Advisory Board meeting on November 14th it became clear that the city is planning to cut down the Torrey Pine on  4633  Long Branch in Ocean Beach without community input and even without input of its own Advisory Board.

The agenda for the meeting listed as an Action Item an update on further analysis of the Torrey Pine and recommendations.  Brian Widener, the Urban Forester, presented the board with  the arborist”s report at the meeting.

The CFAB board, I believe voted on “not to make a recommendation to city until they review the arborist’s report”.  They wanted to  discuss it at the next meeting but were told that the city’s decision would not be delayed until then.

Without seeing the report myself, but recalling the presentation I believe that the report gave two options.  1. To remove the tree or  2. To make corrections and to reevaluate it later.

I am well aware of the city’s concern about safety issues, but with climate change and more severe storms, we will be seeing more trees topple.  Does that mean the city is going to cut all our big trees to avoid liability?

The report does not list this tree as an imminent and significant public safety hazard. Also the Torrey Pine is the nation’s rarest pine and is an endangered species. Shouldn’t the city be doing all that it can to save it, especially when the Torrey Pines in the Preserve are under stress.

Besides the issue of losing another magnificent tree, there are two other disturbing issues of concern.

1.  Why have a Community Forest Advisory Board if the city does not value their input.  Is it another way to placate the public by trying to seem like the city cares.

2.  Why have a Heritage Tree program when the city does not follow their own policies of doing all that they can to protect the tree.

Our community has been through this before with the lack of communication and respect from the city.  Again we will not be silent and we will be watching and hoping for a better outcome this time.

For in depth reporting on on this particular tree and the other Torrey Pines Ocean Beach has lost refer to the OB Rag.

Start Here:

Long Branch Torrey Pine a Heritage Tree

Saving the Long Branch Torrey Pine

[Ed: do word search in our search bar “Long Branch Torrey Pine”or just “Torrey Pine”]

Also see the following links to mainstream media for previous coverage:

CBS8 – Aug 24, 2016

CBS – Video (date unk)

7SanDiego – Aug. 22, 2016

Colleen Dietzel

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist November 19, 2018 at 1:00 pm

So well stated, thanks Colleen.
I wrote to Mr Widener immediately, and cc’d the Rag Editor (Frank) and our representative on the CFAB Board (Virginia). I have also posted on this issue in a few places here on the Rag (see your links posted above) and, in particular, recapped just how similar this scenario is to the tragedy of the Saratoga Ave Torrey pines in 2016. I also suggested the City concentrate their felling efforts on the hundreds of Eucalyptus trees that line the slopes of roads and highways in and around SD as those trees (b/c of their very shallow root systems) are WAY more dangerous and way more likely to fall on cars, houses, and people-

I completely agree with the question of why does the City even have an Advisory Board if it continues to make unilateral decisions like this. It galls me now to think of the hours of volunteer effort that was spent providing the City with an excellent, FREE handbook for their use in tree stewardship efforts. It galls me to think of the effort many in the community made in attending the City Council’s budget approval meeting to advocate for the tree budget- which included the salary of the likes of Mr Widener! Were the hours spent identifying and researching other OB Torrey pines for the Heritage Tree Program a complete waste of time? At this point it would seem so.

To be frank, I’m now wishing we had pursued legal action in 2016. I can only hope that EVERYONE in OB will come out and stand up for this tree. I know it might seem out of scope to some to get so worked up about a single tree, but this represents and symbolizes so much more. Whether its trees, STVRs, alcohol licensing, zoning, height limits (to name a few) the message is increasingly clear: The City could care less about rules, laws, Community Plans, and feedback from its constituents. Something has to change, what’s it going to take?


Laura D in OB November 19, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Thanks to both of you for this information. Is it my imagination or is the City supposed to be working toward increasing the tree canopy? I don’t understand why they would cut down a valuable and rare Torrey Pine, especially if their advisory board has not been a part of the decision. Does anyone know when the tree was planted? Just looking at Wikipedia, these trees are long-lived, especially if watered and cared for. Thanks for covering this.


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