Saturday, January 31, 2009

7 points about the looming Leucadia 101 tree removal

The following was posted by Kevin C. in the comments section of this blog:

1. The three sets of opinions by the aborists were not fully consistent. There were a number of important differences in the recommendations.

2. Now, I have to admit I don't know what the arborists were asked to do. You can't tell by their analysis (or lack there of). Were they asked to do a risk assessment? Were they asked to do establish a health prognosis? Where they asked, "do you think we should cut those trees down? or, How can we save those trees? Actually, it is pretty clear they weren't asked the last question.

3. Sure, the justification looks good on the surface, but when you look closely at the reports they are pretty thin on providing justification for the immediate removal of the trees. There is no real risk assessment, no structural analysis, or real biological analysis which explained why the trees needed to come down NOW. I don't doubt that such an analysis could result in a conclusion that some of the trees should come down promptly, but I remain highly suspicious for many of the trees.

4.Why do each of these trees have to come down now? You won't find the answers in the reports. [The trees are a the number one asset on 101 and their great size makes L101 fairly unique. The city should make sure that question was addressed. ] That was worth repeating.

5. We have two reports. That doesn't mean that we have two reports that are good enough. The fact that the reports say we should cut down a tree simply because it has some dead canopy should make you want to see a complete analysis of the trees' prognosis.

6. Why do you say the trees are at the rear of their "life-cycles"? What is the evidence? I don't even think the tree trimmer made that claim.

7. How was the outside arborist selected? Did the city hire him or did L101 hire him? He seems to be a bit of a self-promoter and some sort of reinvented landscaper/broker. I don't know that he brings engineering skills or perspective or biological skills or perspective. That is probably fine for most of the things he works on, but if he is not producing an analysis and instead he is just creating straight practitioner's opinion, we should keep that in mind.

click image for large view
The report calls for 8 trees to be cut down, however the new word around town is that 16 Hwy101 trees will be cut down in February.

*I would like to add a point about the perceived danger of old growth Eucalyptus trees. At the last city goal setting meeting Jim Bond talked at length about how branches from Eucs will "go off like a gun" and fall without warning. This is true but, those branches are easy to spot in advance. If the city had any kind of regular maintenance schedule for the 101 trees fear of falling branches would not be an issue.

Also, Leucadia 101 has been the scene of many car accidents, including fatalities. Yet the city is slow to respond to addressing traffic safety on the 101. Why fear of trees? The city might tell us, "The Streetscape will solve traffic safety issues and we will replant trees during the Streetscape." The problem is that the Streetscape timeline is in limbo.


  1. This was an excellent post by Kevin. JP, most people in Leucadia love all our trees, including the ones that were unnecessarily cut down in Orpheus Park.

    Staff is currently controlling city business in Encinitas. This is obvious when a popular Council Member, Teresa Barth, asked for delay so there could be Council discussion of the trees that were cut in Orpheus Park, Leucadia, and City Manager, Phil Cotton, said NO!

    Maggie Houlihan, as Mayor, could have “stepped up to the plate,” and directed Parks Director Chris Hazelton and City Manager Cotton to wait for public discussion. Instead, a private contractor, West Coast Arborists, is making decisions without due diligence and public input, playing favorites, and using any excuse to cut down trees. This private contractor has financial incentive to cut, as it is paid by the tree. Current policy is slowly denuding Leucadia of our precious tree canopy.

    The City is creating ill will and causing public distrust. I also support "Jru" and the children, and our beloved trees! Litigation has shown that views are not protected. If there was no agreement in writing to protect the view, then it easily can be renegotiated. Verbal property agreements are not binding. The president of the HOA involved doesn't remember the specific agreement, and was NOT asking for tree removal!

  2. The hwy 101 trees would thrive with some minor care and deep watering like once per month during drought conditions like we've been in for the last 5 years.

    Lets see how you look if you don't get enough water for 5 years. I think you would end up dead or at least looking like the roadside park Bum whom may have died.

    Arborist and Staff are undervaluing the trees and think if one doesn’t look exactly like they show in their tree hacking manual; it needs to be cut down. Save the trees fertilize them, deep water them, and trim any dangerous limbs. Give them some love and proper care and they would thrive.

  3. If you want to address hazards and reduce liability, focus on fixing the HUGE DEATHTRAP in Leucadia.

    Fix the deathtrap at the RR crossing. That intersection is the most dangerous thing in Encinitas.

  4. Never have I seen the city move with such expediency on any other project. Usually they are as slow as molasses. Wonder what their ulterior motive is. Maybe they are flush with cash that has to be spent. It does stimulate the economy paying so many tree trimmers just above minimum wage.

  5. Both American kestrels and red-shouldered hawks have nested in the eucalyptus trees on 101 during the past several years. These raptors are protected by the US Forest and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act . Breeding season starts tomorrow, February 1. No one is allowed to remove or disturb nesting birds within 200 feet.

    This may be the reason for the recent frenzied activity of the tree cutters. Even the city of Encinitas has to obey the federal law and perhaps this may give more time for our beloved canopy.

  6. Approve the Streetscape along our Mainstreet and let’s start planting trees to form a tall canopy. The majority of public loves Alternative 4. Council should approve it and lets begin getting more trees.

    Enough is Enough. Its time for Leucadia to get some Love.

  7. If I lived in Leucadia, I would certainly take advantage of the media presence on the tree issue to get attention paid to other issues. For example, the canopy. You have the media there, start talking to them. Tell them about the other stuff going on in Leucadia and, if you felt like it, add Cardiff. In fact, I think I will go down there today and tell them a few things if Drew is still in the tree. That is what is making this all possible IMHO. Action- passive action. If they arrest him, like they did many of us in the Vietnam era, so much the better, even for him if he is an attention getter. The media really does like to take the side of the "little guy" when possible.

  8. vietnam protests were about the issue. Here the protest has become the issue.

  9. As a Leucadian, I want to state that I love the tree cover along 101 and hope we do all we can to keep it as green and healthy as possible. As a professional horticulturist with a great deal of experience on the proper care of trees and plants, the problems with the eucalyptus trees are very noticeable to me. I have seen many of them growing the fruiting bodies of the fungus that are rotting the interiors of the tree, and killing them from the inside out. Unless you know what to look for, these trees look very healthy and full. Lack of care may be part of the problem, but just the age of the trees leaves them open to disease and decline. I hate the idea of cutting down such stately giants, but I also know this species is prone to going over in strong winds due to their rather shallow root structure. If you add advanced age, disease, and adverse conditions, you have a serious problem. Unlike people and animals, trees that are sick very often don't look bad till it is too late to do anything about the problem, or they just fall over! Old age is the bane of all living things, and most of our 101 trees are very venerated senior citizens.

    I am hoping that thinning out the canopy of all the existing healthy trees will be done to save them from being felled in high winds. As for diseased trees (of which sadly there are many), I pray they add several new native or very drought resistant trees in their place to ensure the beauty of the treescape for future generations.

    I understand many of peoples objections in pervious posts, but sometimes we all need to pay our respect to those old and stately trees and put all our efforts into making sure what is in good health be cared for, and many, many, many more trees be planted for the health of our whole planet. Lets start here!


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