West Valerio Palms Cut Down

Removed by Edison Contractor for Safety Reasons

Friday, February 22, 2013
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Residents in the 200 and 300 blocks of West Valerio Street were surprised Thursday morning to find crews cutting down apparently healthy palm trees.

“What gives?” asked artist Patricia Chidlaw and Robert Sponsel. “We always thought the city loved trees.” They also said they received no notice.

The Santa Barbara Independent asked Mayor Helene Schneider, who posed the question to staff and got this answer from Tim Downey, urban forest superintendent:

The trees are being removed by a contractor for Southern California Edison, which has a state mandate to maintain safety of high voltage lines. As these palm trees grow closer to the lines, Edison must prune them. Palm trees have only one growing bud.

“Once the palms grow to the point where the bud is cut, it kills the tree,” Downey said. “Rather than allow Edison to leave a dead telephone pole, we ask them to remove the whole tree, and then we work with Santa Barbara Beautiful and Looking Good Santa Barbara to replant.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

And these palms have been there how long? Completely irresponsible and downright RUDE for City/Edison not to notify the neighbors. Tree killers suck.

chilldrinfthenight (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2013 at 11:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Can't replant them?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2013 at 12:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Bury the damn lines already, instead of mangling and killing trees!!

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2013 at 2:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You are probably the same people that vilify the power companies when power lines cause fires because of trees. Now that they are trying to prevent it, you vilify them.
I'm sure Ken and poodles can find the money to replace the trees and bury the lines. Good on ya.

RealityCheck22 (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2013 at 6:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Palm trees grow slowly, so they're probably old, maybe even older than the power lines above them. Palms used to be planted as street trees all over California. By now they're hitting the lines and need to come out. It's just a fact of urban life. The city will replant with trees whose natural height is lower than the power lines. So far, SB has way better street tree management than other cities I've seen. Silly of them not to notify the neighbors though.

Nitz (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why couldn't Edison lower the power lines below the tree bud? I'll bet the tree was there before the power lines too. That's why it just doesn't seem right.

sdpaia (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I personally would be willing to pay an extra $10/month to SCE for the rest of my life if they would bury the lines on my street.
It's not like killing and mangling trees is free anyway, nor is replacing poles and fixing lines after storms and fires.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 10:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good luck convincing your neighbours to shell out $120 a year for some trees.

RealityCheck22 (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Trees matter to us poodles. If they can bury the lines in Montecito, why not here in SB?

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It also seems like they have buried the lines in downtown SB's tourist area. I don't see any power lines on State street between the beach and the Arlington, do you?

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I live in the 100 block of West Valerio. I came home in the middle of the day to pick something up, and found my driveway blocked by a stump grinding machine. After waiting about five minutes blocking the street, they moved the machine. Then I watched in horror as they cut down all three queen palms from in front of my house, all while crushing the plants in the parkway, and making a deafening racket. After they left, I found several empty soda cans left in front of my house, along with three huge mounds of palm tree sawdust smothering the plants, which the workers didn't bother cleaning up. I would guess that these trees were planted about the same time as the concrete sidewalks were put in - 1922. We received absolutely no notice, and the City is telling me that they have no plans to replace the trees with new one. Insanity.

banjo (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Banjo, I think that is outrageous, and symptomatic of the contempt City Hall has for the more "working class" parts of town. For all their liberal blather, they are a bunch of snobs.
There is no way they would dare to behave this way if your street was lined with mansions. Please accept my condolences on the loss of your trees. I suggest that you and your neighbors all petition for a reduction in property taxes due loss of curb appeal. That just might get their attention.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The power lines in Montecito and the Mesa that were buried were paid by the residents of the area. So I think Poodle should start up a fundraising drive to have them buried.
OMG, Sawdust on my plants and coke cans in the front yard. IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD.

RealityCheck22 (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't know where you live, RC22, but leaving trash in customers' yard is definitely uncool in my book. If you know the history of when/how/why/for how much lines were buried in parts of SB, I would love to hear.
I actually asked Edison for a quote on burying the lines on my street, and they refused to even discuss it. "Not going to happen," was the answer. At least so far they have had the courtesy to leave me a door tag letting me know when they plan to come by and "trim" my palm trees. I always call them back immediately and tell them they have my permission to prune, but absolutely no right to kill my trees.
Funnily enough, the palms have begun gracefully curving ever so gently away from the power lines, as though they know they are under a suspended death sentence and better behave or else. Trees have souls, more so than some people I think.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 3:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe you are right RC22, and I ought to start a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for burying all power lines in and around our fair city. We need a good acronym. Any suggestions?

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 3:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Pass the bong buddy.

RealityCheck22 (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 3:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry I don't smoke.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 3:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

banjo, you should see my gas meter that was retrofitted by an out-of-town contractor for SoCalGas. Really sloppy work with crooked pipes all over the place. Their response? "Put a plant next to it".

If the house was owned by one of the crew members, you can bet they would have spent some time to do a better job.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 3:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

According to the article, the tree workers were subs from Edison. So I think that explains pop cans and green waste in the yard. How lazy and stupid. I don't think the city crews would do that. Banjo, according to the article, Tim Downey says they do have plans to replant. I'd recommend being a squeaky wheel. Persistence helped me get a street tree replaced that had been choked to death by its own collar, on a very "slummy" street on the lower West side. This was, however, in the good ole days when Dan Condon was our arborist. That podocarpus tree is big and pretty now.

I think you're right, blackpoodles; some plants can sense obstacles and move away from them. Also I just drove by a bunch of king palms on Santa Barbara St. that are fully into the power lines up around Park Park, and they seem to be coexisting just fine. Or maybe that's a giant hazard just waiting to happen...

Nitz (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 5:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My wife called the city, and the guy told her (don't have a name) that Santa Barbara Beautiful, or some other organization, is thinking about replacing trees on Valerio. He said that, despite the fact that queen palms line both sides of the street between Castillo and State, the official street tree for West Valerio is the Fire Wheel Tree (another non-native), and that will probably be the tree that they would plant, IF they decided to. I understand that trees need to be removed from time to time for safety reasons, but I thought the way it was done was pretty rude. If they aren't going to replace them, then I would be very happy to pay to replace them myself. However, my understanding is that this isn't allowed without a permit. I haven't looked any further into it, but would welcome input from people with more knowledge than I.

banjo (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 8:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe we ought to coordinate an effort with SB Beautiful to try and get lines buried?

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2013 at 12:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There's a process to get lines buried if the City won't foot the bill. Involves having your neighborhood vote to self-impose an assessment district. On Ferrelo Rd, estimates ranged from $15K to $40K depending on how large your lot was.

Seniors had an option to defer the fee to the next owner. In hillside districts, long-lasting acrimony between neighbors can result due to unequal view improvements.

Chapala St is an example of where the process went smoothly. Ferrelo Rd was a disaster according to friends.On my street, lobbying efforts were almost Machiavellian. I believe undergrounding on Cliff Dr was footed by the City.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2013 at 11:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is revolting! "Santa Barbara Beautiful" is an ineffectual, and pathetic excuse for a "board". It is not successful at preventing lovely trees from being summarily removed for bogus and poor reasons. Remember the canopy of trees in (I think the 700 block of State Street?) It was lovely! Suddenly; they were all chopped down. Palm trees (which do not make any canopy at all) were substituted !

I resigned from the board. It was just too sad. Some lame excuse about the sidewalks was floated. We all know that is very easily rectified. It is revolting! "Santa Barbara Beautiful" is not about, "Santa Barbara" being beautiful! AT ALL!!

Shame on them!!!

It broke my heart.

It continues to.

Penelope Bianchi

penelopeb (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 12:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If we let our trees be in charge of the "Edison Company"; eventually there will not be one more tree left that is not completely vandalized or chopped down in our city.

The trees in Montecito have been "butchered"; topped and horrendously trimmed; by the Edison Company!

Why is this allowed? You people have to start being active in protecting your neighborhood trees!

It is up to you! And you won't be notified! Just, "poof"!!

No more trees in your neighborhood!



penelopeb (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 12:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The real atrocity is SBB wanting to re-plant with a non-native.

SB2SB (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 12:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

First: bury the lines. Makes sense on several levels: they're less susceptible to the whims of wind & weather, not in contact with trees, etc, and the ugly factor is completely removed.

Second; plant trees which are native to the area, fast-growing, drought-tolerant and offer actual shade and plenty of oxygen to the neighborhood.

This isn't rocket science, but as usual, SB gets it wrong; they talk out of their mouths and act out of the other end...and the result is the city which exists today.


Holly (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 1:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We are paying about ten times the amount for electricity as some neighboring states, this is absolutely ridiculous.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 2:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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