• Photo by Becky Rudderow
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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.

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Comments

dwbat Feb. 17, 2015 @ 5:50 p.m.

California's eucalyptus trees are far more trouble than they are worth. Brought to California from Australia for timber use, they were found to be unusable. And they burn like Roman candles! They were responsible for the disastrous 1991 firestorm in the Oakland Hills. Most of them need to be cut down, and replaced with native trees.

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AlexClarke Feb. 18, 2015 @ 6:04 a.m.

I had eucalyptus trees on my property. They were beautiful but after one fell and nearly hit the house I had them all removed. Great firewood once they dry out.

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Twister Feb. 18, 2015 @ 2:52 a.m.

"According to neighbors, the trees receive pruning every two years, which is said to assure more reliable root stability." FALSE. There are zero competent studies to back up this contention, nor is there any theoretical foundation to support the contention.

Government agencies resist any attempt to keep records that might provide useful data, so educated guesses and post-mortem analyses are about all that can be done. Few San Diego region soils are suitable for trees of any kind, and adequate anchorage, while theoretically possible in some soils and geologic formations (e.g. alluvial), the taller they are, the more likely they are to fall. Exactly the ones "the public" is most likely to want to "save."

Even "native" trees can fall, and while one in OB is in great danger of falling, citizens succeeded in preventing its removal by the City's urban forester. I hope the good citizens of OB will accept liability when the tree they "saved" kills someone and destroys property, which it will, sooner or later.

Most tree problems are caused by too much water and fertilizer, which overstimulates growth, meaning long, heavy branches high in the air--moment arms in terms of physics. Even relatively small limbs can, and have, killed people. Neither God nor Nature is responsible for planting such trees in the wrong places, but God continues to be blamed in the courts.

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