On an unusually wet and windy weekend at the end of January, San Diego’s ecosystem responded in a bizarre if inevitable way: Hundreds of trees fell over.
As wind gusts topped 60 miles per hour, the city of San Diego received more than 500 calls in a 36-hour period from citizens concerned about damaged and downed trees. City officials determined 543 trees fell citywide; 374 were street trees, the rest were in parks and open spaces.
The tree loss would be bad in any circumstance, but it was particularly disappointing since the city has been ramping up its efforts to boost the local tree population.
How Does This Happen?
Uprooted trees caused widespread property damage and at least one fatality that January weekend. Torrey Pines Golf Course lost iconic eucalyptus trees amid the Farmers Insurance Open, a 10News reporter and photographer on assignment in Mira Mesa were injured by falling eucalyptus and a woman was killed when her car was crushed by a toppled Torrey pine in Pacific Beach.
Local arborists and meteorologists say circumstances uniquely aligned for this type of large-scale tree failure. The ground was wet with rain while powerful onshore winds tested the strength of tree roots parched by drought conditions and state-enforced water use restrictions.
Even well-intentioned efforts to boost San Diego’s tree canopy likely contributed, said Robin Rivet, an arborist who sits on municipal forestry advisory boards in San Diego and La Mesa. Urban planners prefer to plant big, leafy mature trees, yet don’t always account for too-narrow plots, ill-advised irrigation and pruning, poor soil quality and roots coiled from spending too much time in small pots.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Robin Rivet is right about this.
"Even well-intentioned efforts to boost San Diego’s tree canopy likely contributed, said Robin Rivet, an arborist who sits on municipal forestry advisory boards in San Diego and La Mesa. Urban planners prefer to plant big, leafy mature trees, yet don’t always account for too-narrow plots, ill-advised irrigation and pruning, poor soil quality and roots coiled from spending too much time in small pots."
and wrong about this
"That’s why a tree species like eucalyptus – brought here in the 1800s for use as railroad lumber – undeservedly gets a bum rap, she said."
The Genus has over 700 species but the tree forms have one characteristic that has led to mass removal.........
weak crotch angle. This characteristic leads to large limbs self pruning even in good weather. To keep them safe requires increased maintenance thus increased cost. They are a poor choice
If more trees are planted can we avoid butchering, "lacing" and other forms of mutilation that keep the tree from providing shade and nesting sites for birds? There are far too many trees in San Diego that have been "maintained" and are pruned so badly that they are a hazard, not to mention, they are UGLY. Trees should not look like coat racks.
If you look at areas with similar climates that have not been
urbanized (Baja for example) the percentage of tree cover looks
low. Certainly not 35%. So the norm for our semi-arid region
should be changed even in the face of the likelyhood of
drought? That line of reasoning seems specious.
"Trees are amazing multi-taskers – they clean the air, save
energy, improve business, increase property values, reduce
crime, reduce storm water runoff, cool the pavement"
Wow! Now my only dilemma is picking the right species of tree
to be our next Mayor. Get real. Fix the things we have that
are broke before you go on a tree binge with borrowed money.
More trees are nice and all but in 2012 san diego was ordered to pay $7.6 million to a guy that was paralyzed by a tree that fell on him. The jury blamed city budget cuts for their failure to inspect the tree. Hopefully the city is setting aside funds to inspect, water and trim all the new trees.