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"Landmark" pine tree the culprit

Parents of Nicki Lyn Carano sue for wrongful death of their daughter

Nicki Lyn Carano
Nicki Lyn Carano

The City of San Diego says a Pacific Beach condominium complex has some liability in the death of a local musician who was killed when a large pine tree fell on her car in January 2016.

Nicki Lyn Carano was driving her car on the 3900 block of Ingraham Street during a powerful winter storm when a pine tree planted on the public right-of-way toppled onto her car, killing her instantly.

In September 2016, Carano's parents sued the city for wrongful death of her daughter. In the complaint, Carano's attorneys say that the city was aware of the dangerous tree. Now, the city has filed a cross-complaint against the Ingraham Street Condominiums Homeowners Association alleging that the complex is also responsible for Carano's death.

The city attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The tree was not only on the public right-of-way but was also listed as a "landmark tree." The city designates certain trees as landmarks if they are, according to the city's website, "striking or unusual with high aesthetic value(s)."

Along with the designation comes certain protections. Those protections include prohibiting anyone from damaging or trimming landmark trees without a city permit and without the supervision of a city arborist.

In addition, annual inspections are required for designated trees.

Reads the website, "When the designated tree is in the city street rights-of-way or on public lands administered by the city, as a priority, funds will be expended to allow for an annual inspection, pruning or other corrective actions that may be needed to resolve any particular public safety or sidewalk problem."

An attorney for the Ingraham Street Condominium Homeowner's Association declined to comment for the article.

A civil trial is scheduled for May 2018.

Correction 12/21, 6:40 p.m.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a eucalyptus had struck Ms. Carano. The Reader regrets the error.

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Nicki Lyn Carano
Nicki Lyn Carano

The City of San Diego says a Pacific Beach condominium complex has some liability in the death of a local musician who was killed when a large pine tree fell on her car in January 2016.

Nicki Lyn Carano was driving her car on the 3900 block of Ingraham Street during a powerful winter storm when a pine tree planted on the public right-of-way toppled onto her car, killing her instantly.

In September 2016, Carano's parents sued the city for wrongful death of her daughter. In the complaint, Carano's attorneys say that the city was aware of the dangerous tree. Now, the city has filed a cross-complaint against the Ingraham Street Condominiums Homeowners Association alleging that the complex is also responsible for Carano's death.

The city attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The tree was not only on the public right-of-way but was also listed as a "landmark tree." The city designates certain trees as landmarks if they are, according to the city's website, "striking or unusual with high aesthetic value(s)."

Along with the designation comes certain protections. Those protections include prohibiting anyone from damaging or trimming landmark trees without a city permit and without the supervision of a city arborist.

In addition, annual inspections are required for designated trees.

Reads the website, "When the designated tree is in the city street rights-of-way or on public lands administered by the city, as a priority, funds will be expended to allow for an annual inspection, pruning or other corrective actions that may be needed to resolve any particular public safety or sidewalk problem."

An attorney for the Ingraham Street Condominium Homeowner's Association declined to comment for the article.

A civil trial is scheduled for May 2018.

Correction 12/21, 6:40 p.m.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a eucalyptus had struck Ms. Carano. The Reader regrets the error.

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Comments
7

This doesn't mention just what the city alleges that would make the condo HOA partly responsible. But aside from that, eucalyptus trees can be bad news. There are so many species and sub-species that it is never clear just which one is involved. My rural street is lined with eucalyptus that are 80-90 years old. In recent years four of them have been removed. One was towering over a house, and the elderly occupant feared it would drop a branch onto the house. She somehow managed to get the city and/or SDGE to pay for its removal. The house, it needs to be noted, was built about 1984, meaning it was built when the tree was already mammoth in size. So, why did she buy the house? Oh, the house could have been built farther away from the tree, but wasn't set back from the street for some reason.

Along this street, a few branches have fallen due to wind. But others have just come down spontaneously. Those are the scary ones. Thus, there is risk from the tree toppling, or from branches snapping off and falling to the ground. With all the obvious risks, are they still planted? Why, yes they are. In this area hundreds were planted along with some fast-growing pines in the area of Shadowridge back in the 80's and the city planted the same trees in a number of its new parks at that time. The only reason I can think of is that the seedlings are cheap, and that the trees get big quickly. But that also means that they get too big quickly too. The HOA in Shadowridge is busily cutting out those eucs and pines before they fall over, and replacing them.

Dec. 19, 2017

These eucalyptus trees are giant weeds, and all should be removed. There are too many lawsuits.

Dec. 19, 2017

Well, more or less, that's what I think. Unfortunately, if all those giants along my street were removed the entire ambience of the street would be gone. One of them is about one-hundred-fifty feet tall, and has occasional visitors on the hunt for rodents, but not the usual hawks. These are golden eagles, and without that super-high perch would never be seen. Nothing is so simple, is it?

Dec. 19, 2017

Spreckles folly, a useless non-native species. Kill them all and replace with something less dangerous, like apple and orange trees.

Dec. 21, 2017

Let me see if I understand this. The tree that fell was a landmark tree on public right-of-way and the City is counter suing the HOA. What could or should have done about the tree? They had no control over the tree or it's maintenance. I hope the City has to pay for the death and that they have to pay for the HOA legal fees. They better hope I am not chosen for the jury.

Dec. 20, 2017

The headline may have been corrected, but the first sentence of the story still says "eucalyptus."

Dec. 21, 2017

That was misleading. Eucs can fail at any time without warning, like old oaks. Pines don't usually fail (unless stressed) until near the end of their life cycle. They don't live forever and should be harvested before they kill someone. I own over a thousand Ponderosa, Sugar, and Jeffrey pines, plus Cedars and Dogwoods where I live, and have to cull them a few times a year to keep the forest healthy. Down there in the city they become a liability as the recent fires have proven. Go with fruit trees that will feed the children and bums.

Dec. 23, 2017

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