A fairly new Cardiff by the Sea family got a welcome-to-the-neighborhood wake-up with last week’s Santa Ana winds.
The National Weather Service had called for a two-day high-wind alert. Bursts of up to 80 miles per hour were clocked coming off the desert over the Laguna Mountains.
At 9:00 a.m. on February 12, just as John and Michelle’s two boys, ages three and four, had walked out their front door, a 95-foot eucalyptus tree fell across the parking lot in front of their townhome. “The boys were just a minute from getting in the car,” said Michelle. “They always play and run around out there.”
With high winds roaring over the bluff above the secluded Evergreen Drive, the falling tree knocked down another mature eucalyptus, hit a light pole, landed on two cars, a carport, and a dumpster enclosure — damaging all. The rear end of Michelle’s car was completely crushed. The sound of hundreds of pounds of cracking wood could be heard from blocks away.
Tall, mature eucalyptus trees surround the hilly Park Place Bluffs neighborhood of 328 four-plex townhomes. Horticulturalists categorize the neighborhood as a “suburban forest.” Eucalypti are known for their rapid growth in height and relatively short root depth. The homeowners’ association maintains a record of every tree on the property. According to neighbors, the trees receive pruning every two years, which is said to assure more reliable root stability.
The couple’s boys didn’t seem too affected. “They didn’t actually see it come down,” said Michelle. “So they’re just more curious.” The HOA’s crews had the tree mess cleaned up within three hours. Michelle is still waiting for her insurance company to tow away her car.