City Crews Kill 5 Palm Trees on Upper Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach

by on April 25, 2022 · 11 comments

in Ocean Beach

Image from KUSI video of 4-25-22.

OB Rag reporter Geoff Page just reported that city crews killed 5 palm trees on Newport Avenue near Santa Barbara Avenue.

Under heavy police presence, crews took the chains to the tall, healthy palms.

Nearly 2 dozen local residents turned out – and one nearly was arrested.

Several TV news stations are also on the scene.

Photo by OB Rag staff.

Page believes the crews are done for the day but expects they will be back. Initially, 7 palms were targeted by the city. “No Parking” signs were placed along Newport Avenue between Venice and Guizot over the weekend.

Here is the KUSI report from this morning:

City of San Diego in process of cutting down iconic Ocean Beach palm trees
Posted: April 25, 2022
KUSI Newsroom
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Homeowners in the Ocean Beach & Point Loma area of San Diego are continuing their effort to save the iconic palm trees that line their street.

The street where the seven palm trees are located is far from the San Diego International Airport, but the City of San Diego still claims the FAA says they are too tall, and interfering with ground radar. Which seems like an outrageous reason.

After backlash ensued from that reason, homeowners in the area says they were told the trees were “diseased,” and must be removed. Residents of the area researched that issue, and tell KUSI the trees are not diseased, and still question why the City of San Diego wants them down.

Residents also tell KUSI the no parking signs went up overnight, without warning, in preparation of the tree removal process.

KUSI reached out to Mayor Gloria numerous times, but never received a response.

Here’s Fox5’s report from this morning:

Ocean Beach palm trees cut down by city crews, angering some neighbors
by: Dillon Davis

SAN DIEGO – San Diego city crews Monday removed five palm trees along an Ocean Beach roadway at the direction of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, citing public safety reasons.

The palms were removed by crews in the 4300 and 4400 blocks of Newport Avenue. They were targeted for removal by the airport authority for “(intruding) into the protected airspace for the San Diego International Airport,” and were requested to cut down to “avoid impacts to Airport operations,” a letter by the city to nearby residents shows.

It’s a move likely to stir up some neighbors in the community. Nearly two dozen people living in the area came out to protest last fall when a proposal to remove a total of eight palm trees was floated.

In the letter to residents, the city noted more trees were scheduled for “trimming or removal due to the airspace conflict,” but no action was taken on them Monday when the others were removed.

“Those trees will continue to be monitored and may also require removal in the future,” the city said.

Back in October, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the airport conducts a survery every five to 10 years to make sure no obstacles are interferring with navigation sensors pilots rely on to fly when visibility is low. In the most recent survey, officials determined eight palm trees in Ocean Beach and about a dozen others in the Bankers Hill area were obstructing the buffer zone and needed to be removed.

Last month, Dennis Probst, the airport authority’s vice president of development, wrote a letter to the city’s COO Jay Goldstone, confirming that five of the trees “constitute an obstruction” and required removal.

Others in the area are approaching the height where they could become an obstuction, Probst said, but they were not asked to removed “in consideration of recent community concern.”

“Instead, SDCRAA will continue to periodically survey these trees to determine whether and when removal is required and provide further direction to the City as necessary,” Probst wrote in the letter.

Judy Slaten, a neighbor who lives down the street from the palms, came out to protest Monday morning, where she said she was threatened with arrest if she stood in front of them.

“I’m upset that our city put out signs yesterday on a Sunday that this whole street was gonna be closed Monday through Friday from 7 to 4:30 p.m. and they didn’t tell anybody why,” Slaten said. “They didn’t deliver letters to the houses that they were cutting down the trees.

Fire crews extinguish Presidio Park brush fire
“Everybody called into the city and they said, ‘It has to do with the trees. They only have to provide 24 hours notice. They’ll be there tomorrow morning to cut down all the trees.”

Slaten was particulary angered by the decision as she and other neighbors are pursuing legal action against the city to keep the trees from being removed.

“They took down five trees today and they’ll be back all week to cut them all down,” she said. “They said they’re acting under an emergency order from the FAA and that they have to meet a quota and get all these trees down by the end of the month.”


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie April 25, 2022 at 9:16 am

Well, so much for the city’s claim of restoring our canopy.


Td April 25, 2022 at 10:15 am

The homeowners should immediately apply to the free street tree program to replace them all with trees that will offer more canopy once mature and use less water in the long run. I’ve heard the program is taking a while, as with all city functions, but it’s free and the trees are really nice.


Geoff Page April 25, 2022 at 10:47 am

Use less water than these mature palm trees? What do you have to substantiate that claim? Canopy trees could easily be planted below these palms. And, if you apply for a tree, you have to water and care for it. And, if you do that for years and the tree grows but the city decides it wants it gone, your efforts won’t matter.


Vern April 25, 2022 at 1:13 pm

The city should have had replacement trees, approved in advance by the community, immediately available (for the city to plant same day and maintain in perpetuity).


Sorry not Sorry April 25, 2022 at 10:04 am

“KUSI reached out to Mayor Gloria numerous times, but never received a response.” Now there’s a shocker….


Frank Gormlie April 25, 2022 at 11:44 am

Anybody else completely disgusted with the city of San Diego? From Mira Mesa to PB to Point Loma and now this, the city shoves its priorities down residents’ throats with no notice, no input, no consensus and with no sense.


Katie April 25, 2022 at 1:06 pm

Pretty much. These palms are iconic and part of the charm of the city.

No problem with multistory buildings though.


virginiamae April 26, 2022 at 3:18 am

Please, Frank, don’t get me started! Some of the policy choices seem to come from the other side of the Looking glass.


marc johnson April 25, 2022 at 11:54 am

Those palm trees are drought tolerant they use very little water and the moisturized by the ocean is all it needs to survive .


Vern April 26, 2022 at 8:02 am

Speaking of trees, when are all the Torrey Pines and Coastal Live Oak going to be planted at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park as mentioned several times in the SCNP Master Plan 2005?


Brittany Moore May 29, 2023 at 2:54 am

The destruction of five palm trees on Upper Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach by city crews is unfortunate and raises concerns about proper communication and management of urban green spaces. It is important for municipalities to prioritize preserving and maintaining trees as valuable assets that contribute to the aesthetic appeal, environmental health, and sense of community in cities. Click Emergency Storm Cleanup to know more.


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