Christmas Tree Rant

by on December 3, 2020 · 46 comments

in Ocean Beach

OB Christmas Tree 2020

By Geoff Page

Another beautiful local tree was donated by some residents to be the OB Christmas tree at the foot of Newport this year.  It’s a Star Pine and was growing in the upper part of Del Mar Avenue.  I decided to check it out when I heard about it on Tuesday from friend who lives near where the tree was.

I went by the location and saw what was left of the tree lying about the yard, not yet cleaned up. A piece of the trunk was among the debris and it was at least two feet in diameter. I was originally told the tree was so large that only a part of it was used.

I rang the doorbell to the residence and a woman answered after a moment.  She was quite elderly.  I asked why the tree was taken down wondering if it was unhealthy.  Her answer was that they were concerned the tree might blow over and hurt the neighbors like the tree that blew over two years ago on Santa Barbara.  I asked if an arborist had looked at it and she said no.

It seemed the only reason the tree came down was fear, although this was not the reason they gave the OB Town Council.  I explained to her that the tree on Santa Barbara was a Torrey that came down because the root system was cut off to accommodate some construction, damaging the tree’s ability to stay anchored.  The damage was on the west side of the tree and it fell to the east.

The Star Pine was not near the house structure, it was in the front yard close to the sidewalk a good distance from the homes as the Google Earth picture show.  I stopped at another home with a much larger Star Pine much closer to the house and asked if they had any problems with the root system and was told no.

I then went to the OB Town Council that handles the tree every year.  This is a very dedicated group of hard-working locals who have nothing but the best interests of the community at heart. But, even the best intentions can have consequences.  I asked three questions and they were very gracious in responding quickly.

How did the Town Council come in contact with the home owners?

“This year, the home owners actually reached out to us! Most years we post on facebook, email our members, etc. that we are looking for a tree. This year we received an email from the home owners earlier in the year that they had a tree that needs to come down, and may be a good candidate for the Holiday Tree. We took a look, had the arborist approve, and agreed that this would make a fantastic OB Holiday Tree!

That said, the process is not always that easy! We are often scrambling to find a suitable candidate. And even this year had its difficulties, as originally the arborist said this tree would not be able to work, due to its complicated split (there were two tops of this tree.. one trunk).”

Was there a reason the tree had to come down?

“Yes, the home owners indicated they were planning to remove the tree anyways. It had gotten too large and was uprooting their entry way and overtaking some of their neighbors property. We make sure every year to select trees that NEED to be removed – either because they’re uprooting sidewalks, getting in the way of electric wires, etc.  We do NOT take healthy trees out of the ground, just for the sake of it! There always needs to be a reason it needs to get removed.”

What does it cost the Town Council to remove such a tree and to plant it in the sand.

“It’s not cheap! Luckily a lot of the services get donated, and we have a handful of people who have been donating their time for decades for this tree. The tree cutting itself, for example, is donated. The flat bed truck used to take it from point A to point B is donated. The electric support is donated.  However, the crane, the fencing, the ornaments, the permit from the city all adds up! This year we are looking at $3,500. It would obviously be a lot more without the donations. That’s why it’s such a win-win for OBTC and the homeowners. We save them a lot of money by doing the service for them.”

The Town Council’s motives are certainly to serve the community and add to the Christmas cheer.  No question about that.  But, I think everyone needs to rethink this tradition.

Notice that the reasons for the tree removal the Town Council was given did not match what I was told by the homeowner.  I have another theory.  When I stopped to talk to the other resident about the Star Pine in their yard, they said they loved it.  The only criticism they had was that it dropped a lot of material.  A ha.

When the donated trees are removed, there is no cost to the homeowner as can be seen by the Town Council’s explanation of how the costs are covered.  My theory is that the old couple living on the site was tired of cleaning up the mess and saw a way to have someone else pay to remove the large tree. I did not see any uprooting of the entry way or any obvious problem with the neighbor’s property.  Frankly, neither would be a good reason for killing this big tree.

But, safety, ah, that is the best card of all to play.  Who can argue with safety? The problem is that there seems to be no evidence the tree was diseased or in any danger of failing.

The residence is a very large, expensive home. At least from that perspective, it did not appear that the homeowners could not afford to remove the tree. But, who can argue with a free removal whether you have the money or not? My guess is that the homeowners learned that the OBTC would take the tree at no cost, probably after reading about past donations, and took advantage of it.

The point of all this is that I think the Town Council has created a bit of a monster, unintentionally.  I have checked on some trees in the past, some were questionable and others had very legitimate reasons for being removed, like damaging foundations.  But, the only trouble with this tree was probably that its owners were tired of picking up after it.  Would they have incurred the cost to remove it if they were not able to have someone pay for it?  Can’t say for sure but the cost of removing and disposing of such a big tree would be considerable.

Personally, I think killing any tree for a few weeks of a specific religious holiday is a shame.  Especially a Point Loma tree – where we need our trees.  When it was growing, it could be appreciated by people of all religions or no religions at all.  Now, it is dead and appreciated by only the Christian world until it is hauled off and disposed of after Christmas.

I would love to see the Town Council consider banning any local donations of trees growing in Point Loma.  Take away the incentive to save money, and to appear altruistic at the same time, that has been, again, unintentionally, created.  There are other parts of the world where there are lots of trees, our local mountains for starters.  In the past, the tree used to be purchased in northern California, I believe, and trucked here.  This new tradition of taking local trees is harming the community far more than the tradition of having a tree for a few weeks is worth.

It would be really great to put an end to this tradition of killing trees entirely.  There are plenty of Christmas decorations everywhere, can’t we be satisfied with that?




{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler December 3, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Well said, Geoff. This is exactly what I was thinking as I pondered yet another tree coming down for a few weeks enjoyment. We should not be in the business or cutting down healthy trees in OB.


Joe Dehaba December 3, 2020 at 2:04 pm

I had the same sad thoughts when I saw a neighbor last week rip out her tomato plants in her vegetable garden. And by the roots nonetheless. Oh, the plant neurobiology!

Even though a pine tree and a tomato plant are renewables since a new one can planted to replace the old one, there was absolutely no reason, other than greed, to murder any of these plants.

So, the next time you see a pine tree or a tomato plant, go up to it and and hug it – watch out for the needles – and tell it that you love it. And remember the words recently uttered by Prince Harry about our precious environment “What if every single one of us was a raindrop and if every single one of us cared?”


Geoff Page December 3, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Ah, I remember you Mr. Dehaba, you’re the guy who writes exactly like another fellow I have encountered named Al Rava. You both are members, or fans of anyway, the National Coalition For Men, that can’t be just coincidence, and that explains the snarky comment. Be a big boy, if you don’t agree, then try to say so politely, it’s ok. I’m sure your mother, assuming you had one, taught you that what we all learned, if you don’t have something nice to say about something then don’t say anything at all. I can live with that.


Foo December 5, 2020 at 8:31 pm

I am not ashamed to say I am a proud tree-hugger. My therapist told me so.


Larry OB December 6, 2020 at 2:09 pm

For me the Winter Solstice is about the rebirth of a new year. I think it would make more sense to plant an eight foot tree each year.


Eric DuVall December 7, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Well! I certainly hope that elderly woman has learned a valuable lesson, as I’m sure we all have. So, if you have a little old lady in your life, who might be in need of a good trolling, (and who doesn’t?) you now know who to call. In fact, you probably ought to check with Geoff before you do much of anything. Just to be sure it will be OK with him. After all “an ounce of caution is worth a pound of condescension,” as the feller said. Plus I’m sure he stuck around to help her clean up her yard and probably would have sprung for the consultation with a Geoff Approved Arborist. If she had only known!


Geoff Page December 7, 2020 at 2:11 pm

You know, Eric, just because a person is elderly or little and old doesn’t mean they are sweet, innocent folks. Old people are all the people we see around us today, just old. Same bunch of a-holes, narcissists, racists, misogynists, just old. My father-in-law was a perfect example.

I went back to the property because I couldn’t see the tree stump because of the debris. I saw it. There was not one sign of damage to the area surrounding the trunk. Nothing. Also no sign anywhere that the tree was unhealthy. And, it was out on the front of the lot, the chance of it falling on the neighbor’s house was remote because of the size of the tree and the distance to the neighbor’s house.

Them’s the facts facts, Jack.


Frank Gormlie December 7, 2020 at 1:28 pm

I’ve heard through the neighborhood grapevine that the folks who owned the tree were pretty well-off and had big Trump signs in their windows. And don’t forget, Geoff is a reporter and writer for the OB Rag, so it’s not like he’s some random guy checking on the tree. This issue of cutting down tall, live and local trees for a couple of weeks is not the sole concern of Geoff, as others in town aren’t happy about either. He offers an alternative opinion (called “rant”) which obviously doesn’t sit well with some. But it’s an important perspective. So, who knows, maybe next year the town council will explore other options.


triggerfinger December 10, 2020 at 2:24 pm

This is why I put BLM signs in my windows, so nosy reporters don’t come beating down my door. The town council should make a list of all the Trump supporters in the area so they can be excluded from all future community programs. We should only be cutting down trees that have Biden signs by them.


Frank Gormlie December 10, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Ha ha. I think the point is that observers felt these well-to-do Trump supporters were getting their healthy tree taken away for nothing, that is, people who could afford it, used the community good graces to do their dirty work for them – which is typical trumpism.


Debbie December 7, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Don’t cut down pot plants and smoke it…..every growing thing must live until it dies a natural death :-)


Geoff Page December 7, 2020 at 2:46 pm

You don’t have to cut them down, just harvest the buds. Like fruit. Nice fruit.


retired botanist December 7, 2020 at 2:38 pm

Eric Duvall, really? That’s all you’ve got? Frankly, there are so many other points and perspectives you could have trotted out to rebutt Geoff’s POV, but instead just chose to side-eye him in a glib and vapid comment. If you were informed about tree conservation, or the data on San Diego’s current tree canopy, or even something about the conifer species itself, your comment just might have held some weight ,instead of coming across as smug and pointless…

Geoff, while I don’t know what the real predication of this particular tree, or this household, is that led to OBTC selecting it, it doesn’t really matter in the context of your conclusion, and more importantly, your proposal.
*You connected the dots of incentive, no matter what (local) household, to have a large tree removed for free for any proffered reason, whether its a specious one or a valid one.
*You highlighted the fact that, unless diseased or clearly a danger to life and limb, OB needs all its trees IN THE GROUND to try and sustain canopy %s throughout the City
* You suggested that there are areas outside of OB’s metropolitan coastal area that provide much less impactful consequences to tree-culling
* You touched on the (ir)rationale perpetuation of cutting trees down for 3 weeks of Christian tradition
All excellent points. I do love the OB Christmas tree, I think its cool and brings a lot smile and spirit to the community. BUT I think the OBTC needs to take these points to heart and in future source the tree outside of metropolitan areas, especially its own.
Thanks for the valuable watch-dogging- its this kind of paying attention that helps a community evolve in the right way (directed at you, Eric DuVall, who has done exactly what in the community’s interest?)
And, from one tree lover to another, thanks for looking out for our trees! :-)


Geoff Page December 7, 2020 at 2:43 pm

Thanks, retired, such comments coming from someone with your background are rewarding.

I do have to make one other comment I haven’t yet. As I said, the OBTC is full of great people and I don’t want to be overly critical. That said, if they had examined the area around the tree, they would not have seen any of what they were told by the owners. I wish that had given them some pause.


retired botanist December 7, 2020 at 3:02 pm

Yep, good point, and I’m not dissing OBTC, either. I think they do great work and, as I said, I do think the OB xmas tree, Christian nod or not, is a unique tradition that elevates the community. (and for that matter, how much nicer to have one tree for everyone rather than a thousand dying in individual homes?! :-) .
But I think this highlights an inattention (and a ‘follow the money” importance) that needs to be remedied. Whenever we consume something, whatever it is, we need to be mindful of sourcing and impact. The planet is too small now NOT to think beyond our own hearths! :-)


Debbie December 7, 2020 at 4:44 pm

Isn’t the tree an OB Tradition?

The OBTC has for many years reached out to the community for those interested in donating a tree. Yes, the homeowner benefits in the removal and the OBTC gets a tree (maybe the OBTC gets a donation from the homeowner…who knows? OBTC gives back to the community in many ways. “OBTC” is lucky enough to have contacts that donate services for the tree removal as a gesture of goodwill and/or carrying on with the tradition).

The presence of the tree is joyous. People love to join in and decorate the tree or visit the foot of Newport and enjoy its presence, take family photos etc.

Wasn’t the tree tree on private property (#4455)? I would think many people have taken a tree or plant down on their property at some point in time for whatever reason…your property, your tree, etc. Looking at google, it looks like whoever planted this star pine put it too close to the neighbors house…… hmm. Personally, I think these trees are beautiful but they also have drawbacks such as being messy, the cones are sharp, it creates a lot of pollen which can affect people with allergies, the are BIG to name a few. If the homeowner is old maybe they are too tired to clean up after it, or many they don’t want to pay the cost of maintenance or maybe the tree become too big, or maybe they want to change the landscaping of their property.. In any event, the homeowner did not want it and the OBTC was looking for a tree. Seems to be a win/win.

Just an idea, for all those missing the living star pine, plant one in your backyard and give it tender loving care or give some attention to trees in the pubic areas that need water or TLC so they can thrive.


Geoff Page December 7, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Yes, it is a tradition, it was started by the James Gang in the 70s. But, we abandon traditions all the time as society changes. The tradition of performing in black face is one. Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean it has to last forever.

“The presence of the tree is joyous.” It may be joyous to you but it is not to me because it is just a dead tree that once graced the community. And, I’m sure folks of other faiths don’t necessarily find it joyous.

Everything in your fourth paragraph was explained in the story regarding why it was removed according to what the OBTC was told and what I was told, two different stories. It was not close to the neighbor’s house, something I already explained.

Planting more trees is a great idea. So is saving the ones we have.


Debbie December 7, 2020 at 5:21 pm

The tree does not hand over the adjacent property?


Debbie December 7, 2020 at 5:29 pm

The tree does not hand over the adjacent property?

oops I wanted to post ..did not hang over :-)


Geoff Page December 7, 2020 at 5:36 pm

It looks like branches on the east side probably did. But they told the Town Council, it was “overtaking some of their neighbors property.” That doesn’t sound like tree branches.


Eric DuVall December 7, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Thank you very much. I certainly didn’t intend to “rebut Geoff’s POV” for gosh sakes. In fact I don’t think I mentioned the tree at all, did I? Let’s see . . . no, not a word. My comment was an attempt to poke some fun at the overtly patronizing tone established in his lead. That was all. Had I realized that the people in question were “misogynists,” and “racists,” and “a-holes,” and “Trump supporters” for corn sakes, and even “narcissists” well I would have just bit my tongue and moved on. I certainly do not support removing ANY trees unless they pose some sort of dangerous situation. Dozens of perfectly healthy trees were taken out in the six months following the tragic incident with the Torrey Pine on Santa Monica and Santa Barbara that fell a couple of years ago, just because people were scared. Did the Torrey Pines on Saratoga need to come out? Probably not. Arborists differed. Can you imagine?! People had differing opinions! And those were mostly street trees, in the public right of way, maybe one was in somebody’s yard, but that was a situation where public opinion mattered. If you have followed the tradition, issue if you will, with the OB Tree, you will know that the community tried to plant a pine tree for that purpose at the foot of Newport. It proved to be an excessively windy, salty and sandy environment for that transplant to survive. Any retired botanist will tell you that. For several years trees up in the woods were cut down specifically to serve the purpose of the OB Community Christmas Tree. This practice was soon abandoned in favor of repurposing a tree (and not necessarily from the Ocean Beach community) which had been or was going to be taken out (for whatever reason) any way. People do take out trees for many reasons. And that is also a fact, Jack. It is extremely sad to see them come down. But repurposing a cut tree seems to be a much more holistic approach than taking a tree down for no other reason than to use as the OB Tree. Nobody is trying to con anybody into cutting down a healthy mature tree from their front yard to use for the community Christmas Tree. Don’t like Christmas? That’s fine. Think of it as a venerable pagan symbol (as Larry pointed out) callously appropriated by the Christians. There, feel better? Hey, how many retired botanists does it take to plug in the Christmas lights? I don’t have any idea. Just a rhetorical question.


Geoff Page December 7, 2020 at 5:30 pm

Eric, you wrote, “My comment was an attempt to poke some fun at the overtly patronizing tone established in his lead.”

You’ll have to be more specific. The lead in a story is usually the first paragraph and I don’t see what you described there, what are you referring to?

Then you wrote, “Had I realized that the people in question were “misogynists,” and “racists,” and “a-holes,” and “Trump supporters” for corn sakes, and even “narcissists” well I would have just bit my tongue and moved on.”

This is the common problem of a person not reading with comprehension. I did not say these people were any of those things. My point was it should be remembered that sweet looking old people are no different than the younger people around us, getting old and sweet looking doesn’t change that. Is that clearer?

Removing a large tree is expensive. Doing it for free is too much of an incentive to have a tree taken down that might not otherwise be removed, that is my point.

No, the two westerly Torreys that were removed on Saratoga did not need to come out, the city lied because the real reason was they were tired of fixing the street and sidewalk. The two easterly trees unfortunately did die.

“repurposing a cut tree seems to be a much more holistic approach.” How is killing a tree to use for a short holiday holistic in any manner? It’s not repurposed, it’s dead.

“Nobody is trying to con anybody into cutting down a healthy mature tree from their front yard to use for the community Christmas Tree.”

I am of a different opinion.


retired botanist December 7, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Ok, haha, seems I’ve lit a useful match :-).
Eric, methinks you’ve backtracked a bit- fair enough, and you appreciate those of us previously heavily engaged in the conservation of the endangered, local Torrey pine (and its “safety” risks), but also the larger engagement with the City over tree and canopy policies, private vs public trees, and the conservation of heritage trees in OB, of which this star pine is not one. So truce on that? :)
Debbie, your points re the tree being on private property are noted, but OBTC serves a public community, and thus must be mindful of all they serve. Saps, cones, debris, and litter from trees, foundation encroachment (even at the risk of homeowner nuisance), are 1st world problems of homeowners, not the community at large. And advice? Uh, don’t plant a star pine in your backyard- it should be obvious now that the trees grow BIG :-)
And finally, altho I’m not a Christian, I grew up in a Catholic household and Christmas rituals and traditions were repeated and cherished for decades. But at 70, I’m wise enough to understand that we ALL must re-evaluate, must temper our practices to reflect more globally important issues than just what our families grew up doing. By all means, have an OB tree! Have some greens in your house! I think its great! Just rethink, as an OBTC community-serving body should, what best serves the greater good, and not just blindly forage the 1st available tree! Think before you act. Its a small gesture! :-)


Debbie December 8, 2020 at 8:31 am

Maybe OBTC should put out a vote next year?

Here are your choices for the Holiday Tree based on the options available for which we have offers/donations from whomever. Leave out all the subject criteria. Just show the tree and ask for a vote and leave out how much money one has, what kind of car they drive, what kind of soap detergent they use, if they go to church, are they vegens, how are they registered to vote, if they feed the birds, or what kind of toilet paper they use etc. Once the tree is removed, OBTC can plan a tree somewhere and have a party celebrating the event.

You can join the OBTC and get invited to vote as a member (pony up the $20 bucks) volunteer and help them with the good deeds these folks do


Debbie December 8, 2020 at 8:50 am
Geoff Page December 8, 2020 at 11:46 am

You can’t leave out all the subject criteria that you didn’t include in your list, Debbie. Health of the tree. Damage to surrounding area. Danger to neighboring homes. The opinion or a certified arborist.

But, I agree that we can leave out “what kind of car they drive, what kind of soap detergent they use, if they go to church, are they vegens, how are they registered to vote, if they feed the birds, or what kind of toilet paper they use etc.”

Frankly, I would never consider any of that to be “subject criteria.” Are you sure we’re talking about the same thing?


Debbie December 8, 2020 at 12:08 pm

I think it’s appropriate for anyone who takes down a tree on their property which they live and pay taxes and maintain to get an environmental impact report completed and give up your first born child.


Geoff Page December 8, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Well, what if they don’t have any children? You need to think this through a little more.


Debbie December 8, 2020 at 12:28 pm

Like your humor!

Ok, no children

Take dog

No dog, take car

No car, take spouse….oh no! That might be an incentive for some and trees will be coming down as fast as Santa Ana Winds

Happy Holidays to All.


Geoff Page December 8, 2020 at 1:09 pm

Like your humor too.

Never the dog.

The spouse? While an attractive idea, I agree, there wouldn’t be a tree over two feet tall left on the Peninsula.


Phil Lawrence December 8, 2020 at 9:04 am

Someone had a tree in their yard that they wanted removed and now the author and the various commentators determine whether that person’s reasons for wanting it removed meet this tribunal’s standards. This is fun. Who and what else do we get to pass judgment on? I’ll start-My neighbor bought the gasoline-powered Lexus, rather than ponying up the extra $$ for the hybrid. He could afford the hybrid. Fire away.


Geoff Page December 8, 2020 at 11:55 am

As I said to Eric in a previous comment, “This is the common problem of a person not reading with comprehension.”

If, by “this tribunal’s standards,” you were referring to the OB Rag, go back to the top where it says “Rant.” If you read the Rag often enough, you will know that “Rants” are a regular feature wherein the editor dude lets people have a forum to rant on a personal opinion. So, your problem is with me alone, not the Rag.

Beyond that, you missed the point entirely. The purpose of this was to get people thinking about trees and questioning what we are doing with this tradition. But, I’m not going to rewrite it again here for you.


retired botanist December 8, 2020 at 2:51 pm

Hahahaha! As happens frequently on the beloved Rag, the original story got tangled up quicker than a string of Christmas lights!! We got hyperbole, humor, sarcasm, a sprinkling of logic, a dallop of judgement, a pinch of entitlement, and some dregs of good alternatives. Oh, and a smattering of comments. Yep, good job, Geoff! :)

PS: Eric! It takes no retired botanists to plug in those lights because they all do the “unplugged” version, hahaha! :-)


triggerfinger December 8, 2020 at 3:12 pm

10 seconds on google showed me the sidewalk in front of the tree lifted and was ground down by the city, and that the concrete walkway to their house is shifting likely by this tree’s roots. The neighbor also has a small retaining wall right up by the tree.

It’s also over 50 feet tall and only about 15 ft from the neighbor’s house it’s leaning towards.

I’m not saying the tree couldn’t have been accommodated longer, or speaking to any incentive the OBTC effort creates… but it’s false to claim this tree wasn’t impacting anything or capable of crushing someone’s house. And whether or not the owner or a new buyer would’ve removed it soon on their own dime, we can only speculate. It sounds like they’ve been wanting it removed for some time now.


Geoff Page December 9, 2020 at 12:34 pm

trigger, I’m afraid you have shown some confirmation bias by drawing the conclusions you have regarding the city sidewalk and the one to the house. I went back to have another look.

The piece of ground sidewalk is some distance from where the tree was. The tree sat several feet above the driveway to the house. A tree root would have to have grown down sharply, then under the concrete retaining wall at the driveway, under the driveway, and then grown upward out at the sidewalk. And this would be without causing any other damage in between.

No, you can’t make that connection, but there is another explanation. The sidewalks of this area were built many years ago before all the lush lawns and landscaping we see now were planted. The sidewalks are not placed on much, if any, bedding. The soil in this area has a high sand content. Anyone who has ever dug a hole here knows it is hard as a rock, but add some water and wait only a few minutes, and it can easily be dug. And, once below the hard pan, the soil is soft and sandy.

If you walk up that whole bock, you’ll see several ground places. It is a steep hill and there has clearly been lots of watering over the years. Many of the homes on that side are higher than the city sidewalk. The water runs off the properties and under the sidewalks. As the water travels downhill, it soaks the dirt and creates hydraulic pressure that can push concrete up. Where you will see the most grade differences are at the “cold” joints in the sidewalks. These are spaced joints in the concrete that allow movement without cracking the adjacent concrete joint.

Another common example of this is how asphalt in the streets bunches up against concrete cross gutters that has to ground down periodically.

The section of the sidewalk leading to the home shows it has shifted slightly, but no one could ever call this serious damage, the grade differential looks about one to two inches and the concrete is not cracked.

And yes, there is a small wall adjacent to the tree. It is not clear who the wall belongs to. The “wall,” consists of four to five rows of interlocking “hill holders” about 24”to 30″ tall overall. Hill holders are prefabricated decorative blocks that interlock but require no concrete or grout. They are not intended for tall walls because walls like this are not meant to retain heavy loads of earth. It did not appear that the tree had disturbed this fragile wall of blocks. Even if it had, repair would be simple and the only cost would be labor.

The only reason it looks like the tree is leaning is because of Google Earth. Take another look, the tree grew straight, that is a feature of this type of tree. But, straight on steep hill looks like a slant when there was none.

Then, you wrote this, “but it’s false to claim this tree wasn’t impacting anything or capable of crushing someone’s house.”

And, I’m saying it is false to claim it was impacting things that are clearly not impacted as can be easily seen. Claiming fear that it might crush the neighboring house with nothing to substantiate that fear is also false. The tree would have to fall up hill in a southwesterly direction, which is the direction the strongest winds usually come from. If it was ever pushed over, it would probably land downhill in the street. But, there was nothing to show whether this was a realistic danger or just an excuse.


triggerfinger December 10, 2020 at 2:54 pm

The lifted sidewalk and private walkway are directly adjacent to this tree, within 15′. I imagine it has a significant root structure. I never said anything about driveways or anything near a driveway. Storms from the west are typically what knock trees down, after lots of rainfall. This is what happened a few blocks away last year.

But I probably don’t know anything, I’m no arborist, just another pontificating keyboard commando.


Geoff Page December 10, 2020 at 8:40 pm

trigger, The word “adjacent” does not mean 15 feet away. The private sidewalk to the residence is adjacent to the tree, and I’ve already described that “damage.” The piece of city sidewalk you believe was damaged by the tree was not adjacent.

You wrote, “I never said anything about driveways or anything near a driveway.”

No, you didn’t, I did. There is a retaining wall and a driveway between the tree and the ground piece of sidewalk that do not show any damage.. The tree is several feet higher than the driveway. I already described what a root would have to do to reach that spot.

Our storms come from the southwest, not due west.

What “happened a few blocks away last year?”

I wouldn’t say you don’t know anything but it is possible you haven’t put enough effort into researching or investigating this topic.


retired botanist December 8, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Trigger, on your last point, I expect we’ll all agree: “It sounds like they’ve been wanting it removed for some time now.”
For Debbie: It doesn’t matter why, its their’s, and if someone else can pay for it, its good.
For OBTC: Ok, looks to be a good candidate, and its local. No need to question further.
For Geoff: Are there other motives, unrecognized by OBTC, at play here? Is there a better selection process?
For Eric: Trees come down for a multitude of reasons, including pagan rituals. Its ok, because arborists and (retired) botanists don’t always agree.
For Phil: Nevermind, let’s talk about a hybrid vs gasoline Lexus for fun

Next? :-)


Debbie December 8, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Botanist..Seems like you got it all wrapped up. When I do a pay it forward at a coffee shop or ? I don’t wonder if they could buy it on their own. They are there and its right time, right place. OBTC needed/wanted a tree and they got one.

Now with all this talk about the tree I need to get to the foot of Newport and see it. I really like the crocked tree last year. How did that one come about? Any one know?


Frank Gormlie December 10, 2020 at 4:27 pm

It’s crazy; this rant still has “legs” – as trump tries to engineer a coup. Trees and height limits don’t have much meaning if there’s a fascist coup. Put that in your pipe, triggerfinger, and smoke it.


triggerfinger December 10, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Congratulations on turning an article about a town Christmas tree into a political argument. Way to contribute!


Geoff Page December 10, 2020 at 9:03 pm

Hey, trigger, that’s the OB Rag, very upfront about it’s political leanings while providing as much accurate information as possible.

All stories, if they are of any substance, have lots of tributaries that can be followed to see how the smaller stories contributed to the main one. A political tributary is only one. An environmental tributary is another. If the political one does not seem inviting, if it looks too rough, or to dark and overhung with dense foliage, don’t go down. Stick with the environmental tributary and mull over the idea of protecting as many trees as we can by thinking of a more eco-friendly way to celebrate this holiday.

With all of the other decorations, do we really need to sacrifice a tree that lived for many, many years, strong and straight and healthy, to decorate a two week holiday and then be hauled to the landfill?


Frank Gormlie December 12, 2020 at 11:17 am

I find I’m getting cranky too easily these days. Cranky and grumpy. Perhaps some of our other commenters are too, just saying.


Debbie December 11, 2020 at 11:30 am

Ruh-roh Canary palm on PP just came down on Voltaire….


Geoff Page December 11, 2020 at 12:03 pm

What is a “PP?”


retired botanist December 11, 2020 at 5:38 pm

Haha, I don’t know what a PP is, either, but suspect its maybe “private property”? Regardless,at the risk of being pedantic, palms actually aren’t trees (they’re monocots), sort of in the vein of vegetables are actually fruits. We always need the petty police to sideline the point, right?! :-)
And Trigger, yeah, its all either political or philosophical at some juncture, so you can’t really blame the commenters. The Rag is designed to engage people, and it does so, remarkably on all sides. Otherwise, it might as well be a penny-wrapper, and who reads those? Everything in life can lead to a bigger question- and thank God at least some of us go there! :)


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