The City of San Diego has a problem with falling palm fronds and has fallen way behind with palm-tree trimming. So, on January 29, the San Diego City Council unanimously (with two absent) approved the transfer of $257,000 from the General Fund Appropriated Reserve to the Transportation and Storm Water Department, Street Division.
The funds will go to contractors for trimming about 7500 trees in the public right-of-way. According to a supporting document, the action “should enhance public safety and reduce potential liability to the City.”
There was no public opposition, and four citizens spoke in favor. Jeanne Brown, co-president of the League of Women Voters of San Diego, said in the past the city has been “penny wise and pound foolish” regarding some city services, including tree trimming. “We need to plan for regular maintenance,” she said.
Another speaker said she had her car windshield smashed by a falling frond sometime back. “This is a step in the right direction,” she said.
District 6 councilmember Lorie Zapf was pleased with the overall cost, saying, “Thirty-four dollars [for trimming] a tree is a great deal.”
Gina Coburn, spokesperson at the Office of the City Attorney, wasn't sure about claims against the city for falling fronds. “We only get the cases that go to litigation,” Coburn said. “We haven’t had other cases in our office involving palm trees, to our knowledge.”
The department already had budgeted $300,000 for fiscal year 2013; that amount covers removing dangerous or fallen trees and branches, “urgent trimming,” stump-grinding, and root-pruning.