Row of Large, Shady Trees in Midway District Removed by City

by on March 16, 2023 · 21 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

Take a good look of the trees in this photo. They’re fairly large, provide lots of shade — and now ….

Take another look at them — they’re all gone and dead.

The massive chop down was discovered by Rag writer Geoff Page today, and here is a brief report:

The city just removed a whole row of tall, beautiful shade trees along the west side of Dixieline Lumber.

I contacted the city’s forester to ask why and his response was to submit a Public Records Request to find out why.

That property will be part of the Sports Arena redevelopment project. If the trees ever needed removing, it would not have been for some years and the developer would have had to spend that money, not we San Diegans.

This is what our city thinks of trees.

Are … or were they Ficus trees?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie March 16, 2023 at 1:07 pm

So, all the talk by the city about planting trees, urban forests, and carbon-capturing trees – is just that – talk.

Talk, talk, talk.

Oh, as Geoff pointed out, the city saved the developer Midway Rising (the mayor’s top campaign contributor) the money it would have cost them to take them out.


unwashedwalmart thong March 16, 2023 at 5:12 pm

West of Fashion Valley on Friars Rd, yes, there used to be a long line of trees on the south side of the street. Then bulldozers and the chain link fence arrived; then the trees were gone. From Fashion Valley Rd west to about Via Las Cumbres the trees have been removed.


retired botanist March 16, 2023 at 5:49 pm

Just so empty of anything to say here except my previous comments on Anne Fege’s piece a few days ago. And, no surprise. I don’t know if these are figs or not, but in spite of a fig tree’s root growth’s potential to perhaps displace some sidewalk, there is ZERO excuse for their removal. I mean, the function and services these trees provided to that street, the pedestrians, the adjacent properties, the air quality, the aesthetics, local birds, etc. Um, yeah, if it was “the sidewalks” that turns out to be the reason, well, some concrete repair would have been a far superior fix. Heartbreaking…. and just nowhere to park it. Wasteful death.


larry newald March 17, 2023 at 7:53 am

I agree, Todd and the city counsel pushing their own agenda, through at any cost.

The city planning board for Midway is being left out of any decision making or input into our community planning in the Midway district.



FrankF March 17, 2023 at 8:30 am

Yep, they were ficus trees. Can’t do with em, can’t do without them. As beautiful as they can be, they need lots of regular maintenance and must be planted with root barriers to keep sidewalks intact.

Hey, did you notice the Port of San Diego cut down a dozen Coral trees last week at Spanish Landing, across from the airport? Those trees need a bunch of maintenance, too. Limbs fall when the wind blows.

And…I just got a cancellation notice from my home insurance company. They say they won’t insure my house because branches from my pine tree extend over the roof. They say I have to cut the 110 year old tree down.

So you tree experts out there, what is the perfect street tree for San Diego?


Debbie March 17, 2023 at 9:17 am

Does our city have a “Tree Program” where there is a plan to plant new trees, take out old trees where it makes sense and replace trees?

If not, it’s a failure of past city councils and Mayors and the ball falls on the current Mayor.

City funds are all wrapped up in paying for pensions!


Scott March 17, 2023 at 10:28 am

Hi Debbie,

Here’s a link to the City’s tree program:

This program has planted trees on Ebbers, Pescadero, Santa Barbara, and elsewhere in OB / Point Loma.


Debbie March 18, 2023 at 8:12 am

I did not read all the info in the tree program because I got discouraged from the few pages I perused. It just seems like trees are not that important to our city leaders.

#1 giving away a tree and asking the public to water it is not “free” who is going to pay for the water? Maybe the city could start in neighborhoods where trees are lacking one street at a time. The city plants the trees and makes sure they are maintained, not a safety hazard and has a water truck come by and shower them as needed. Show how a street lined with trees can bring beauty and all the other benefits.

#2 check out the board – 15 positions of which one is vacant and six are expired and five more will expire on 12/31/23…hmmm how effective can this board be?

#3 the last urban tree canopy workshop was in 2016 – not very current?


kh March 20, 2023 at 12:19 pm

The city has cut down almost all the trees on my block in the past 5 years. They’ve planted one. How long will this twig take to grow? Yes I’m deep watering it weekly.

I suppose I should research that. The city provided me with zero direction, didn’t even speak with me, about 6 months after applying on line, they left a door tag saying they’d followup with me, then months later they just showed up stuck it in, not even a note on what kind of tree it is.


retired botanist March 17, 2023 at 5:54 pm

Scott! Kudos for providing that link, but the rest of the story is just total BS. Regardless of which, scanty, places the City has provided replacement trees, the overall SD tree storyboard is deplorable! So many fellings have not received the appropriate replacements, nevermind adequate mitigation for the function and services of specimen trees that have been felled for really shoddy, undemonstrated justifications. Um, I’ve asked numerous times over the past 6 years- where are the 90 Torrey pines promised for Sunset Cliffs as mitigation for the loss of heritage trees in OB? Who, biologist or not, could possibly compare the services of (even) a mature Jacaranda City street tree with a 100+ yr old Torey pine? I get, given all that “LIFE AND LIMB THREAT” the previously established, Torrey pine trees “seemed” to pose to residential areas, that that particular species would not be the replacement choice. So where IS the appropriate mitigation? While figs may carry their own baggage of long-term, possibly troublesome affects on City hardscape, this is SO MUCH “sweep under the carpet” decision-making, inadequate compensation, and total denial of functional loss. I’m stunned that the City has “professionals’ who back this kind of ‘scorched earth’ approach to canopy preservation. I feel like, no, I guess I AM, a broken record. Shame on the City, and any arborist, biologist, forester, or other professional who should know better, and chooses to turn a blind eye to the facts regarding the value of established trees.


Geoff Page March 17, 2023 at 6:49 pm

I was contacted today by a Senior Public Information Officer who stated:

“We are still trying to determine what happened. Not common for our Urban Forestry team to not know about removals so we are asking around.”

The city forester did not say anything to me about not knowing about the removals when I contacted him. The trees are on city property so no private interests would have had any reason to cut them down. My suspicion – and I sincerely hope I am wrong – is that they were removed because some of Midway’s homeless were camping below the trees. If that turns out to be the case, someone deserves to be fired.


retired botanist March 18, 2023 at 6:11 am

Geoff-interesting update. And apologies (to all) for a bit of a rant from me, but it just seems like the same/similar story over and over again, and its so frustrating after the efforts and attention of communities trying to preserve beloved trees. Either nobody seems to know, or the justifications are super murky, or its “fell now, apologize later…”
A number of people have addressed the idea of “trees as plaintiffs” in a legal construct, given that people, as tree advocates, don’t seem to have much success. Here’s one by environmental writer Robert MacFarlane. We can only hope. :-)


Geoff Page March 18, 2023 at 1:56 pm

No need to apologize for being passionate, retired. This is a fascinating idea. You may be on to something.


retired botanist March 18, 2023 at 6:13 pm

Thx Geoff, I appreciate the support, and very much the fact that you and the Rag stick w/ reporting on the ongoing sagas of trees in metropolitan areas. So easy to just throw up our hands (energy) and say “well, City govt is just too big to rebut on the issue”. But the fact remains that public trees belong to US, every single resident who lives w/in the jurisdiction, not the govt administrators, and they are valuable assets (literally, monetarily!) that are being mismanaged by people who work for us. Whether its the Torreys, or the palms, or the figs, it is the people who own these trees, whose taxpaying dollars either cut them down or invest in their preservation. And when a City employee, especially one who should know, says “Gee, I don’t know what the story is…”. Well, as you state, that speaks volumes. Thanks!


Geoff Page March 19, 2023 at 2:20 pm

Yea, it is easier to give in, retired, and not try because it can be daunting getting anything done in this city. But, I have learned that movement can be achieved if you keep hurling yourself at that wall. It’s like trying to change a battleship’s course, slow, but possible.

You are spot on that these trees belong to all of us, they do not “belong” to the city government separately from us because city government also belongs to us. It’s very possible that these trees would have had to go in the development work, but that will be a few years away. They were not damaging property and were providing the benefits of the big shade trees the city says it wants. The city’s forester needs to step up and explain this removal.


sealintheSelkirks March 18, 2023 at 9:54 pm

About trees in California forests; the news is grim:

Is This the End of Forests As We’ve Known Them?

Trees lost to drought and wildfires are not returning. Climate change is taking a toll on the world’s forests – and radically changing the environment before our eyes.

from The Guardian by Alastair Gee but it popped up on a feed link:


Geoff Page March 19, 2023 at 2:33 pm

Interesting article, seal. This will only get worse. The idea that man will do anything to stop what is happening is laughable.


retired botanist March 19, 2023 at 5:55 pm

Thx Seal and Geoff for keeping this on the front burner. if nothing else, I’d sure like to see an explanation of this latest removal. Honestly? As mentioned in a DM to Seal, it brings me so much closer to the endorsement/understanding of Richard Powers’s wonderful novel Overstory.
I’ve read so many articles ( sadly, usually in other countries), where local govts have gone to exceptional efforts to “build around” established trees that are loved by their communities…sigh, what’s our problem?! (rhetorical)


kh March 20, 2023 at 12:30 pm

Trees are so annoying. They have these tendrils that grow constantly underground, hidden and lurking, damaging sidewalks and infrastructure. I think they call them roots. That poor sidewalk is historic, installed in 1947, it deserves better. I used to spend time there with my kids, admiring the aggregate and trowel lines, but it’s hard to enjoy it any more. Particularly with all the debris the trees keep dropping, every little breeze and they are littering the sidewalks. That stuff decomposes and leaves residue all over! And it just keeps coming, this constant annual onslaught of buds, flowers, bugs! and dead falling leaves. Cannot catch a break.

And how about them constantly soaking up ground water, depriving our aquifers?

I have this artificial bamboo plant in my office and it has none of these issues. Something like that would be much more compatible with our urban eco-system than these Ficus parasites.


Geoff Page March 20, 2023 at 12:48 pm

What would the world be like without humor? Well done, kh.


MTB March 20, 2023 at 10:04 pm

I completely agree that Todd and the city council are pushing their personal agenda without any regard for the consequences. The city planning board for Midway is being excluded from any decision-making or input regarding the planning of our community in the Midway district.


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