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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.

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Comments

Twister Jan. 30, 2013 @ 1:19 p.m.

I have posted a link to this article at . . . http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

. . . where I have added photos and a related article.

Note the frond bases still attached to the "trunk" of the palms. These fall too, often in large batches, and can cause damage or injury.

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mngcornaglia Jan. 31, 2013 @ 11:57 a.m.

the fronds have also been known as excellent fuel for fires: accidental, arson, etc...

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Twister Jan. 31, 2013 @ 9:58 p.m.

Yes, they do burn like roman candles, and can throw off glowing embers for great distances, depending upon the strength of the convection current and the wind. Embers are well-known for their ability to start "spot" fires.

Most urban palms in the streets and parks are well-enough trimmed that the risk of fire from them is small, but those planted in canyons all over San Diego (by some self-appointed "Johnny Palmseed"), are rarely if ever trimmed, and in the case of canyon fires could produce a major hazard, not only to native canyon trees and other vegetation, but to structures within the range of the embers. Radiant heat produced from such fuel also can have a serious effect on any canyon fire, inducing almost explosive burn rates in other vegetation. The great heat produced by palm fires can produce much larger embers that can travel farther and last longer than those produced by native vegetation, which are usually quite small, unable to "fly" as far and are and relatively short-lived. The palm frond material is almost ideal for the generation of large embers, due to their light weight and fibrous content. It has been said that nine-tenths of the hell being raised in the world is well-intentioned. I'm sure Johnny Palmseed was/is well-intentioned. There can be no doubt that our canyons would be markedly more fire-safe without the palms (mostly Mexican fan palms and Canary Island date palms).

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Twister Jan. 31, 2013 @ 10:39 p.m.

I hope that mngcornaglia and others will spread the word by sending links to these articles to their friends, who in turn do the same with their friends. This is the only way that the word will get out and gain a constituency for urban tree safety.

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Twister Feb. 6, 2013 @ 4 p.m.

dwbat, it appears that we are the only ones who care about this subject, but at least our reports will be around for a while if someone happens to be searching. Did you get in touch with Frye?

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