Trees to be removed at Carmel Mission Park

Carmel Mission Park is slated to see the removal of 74 trees over the next three years due to the large trees’ threat to the transmission line corridor that runs through the park. SDG&E presented a couple of phasing plans for the tree removal at the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s meeting on July 27 but Chair Frisco White was hesitant to make a decision without community input.

“I’m sure there will be some kickback but for the greater good we have to get these trees out,” White said.

The Carmel Valley Maintenance Assessment District will be discussing the tree removals at its Tuesday, Sept. 5 meeting at 4:30 p.m. at the Carmel Valley Recreation Center. The planning board will then likely make a decision on the plan for the tree removals at its Sept. 28 board meeting.

Carmel Mission Park is located on Carmel Country Road and is split in half by Carmel Center Road. Most of the tree removals are located north of Carmel Center Road, although 12 are located south of Carmel Center. Most are pine trees and five are eucalyptus trees.

Greg Peck, of SDG&E’s vegetation management department, said the tree removal is necessary to prevent the 60- to 80-foot trees from falling and knocking into one of three transmission lines in the park, the largest being 230 kilovolt.

This past January during the storms, a pine tree in the park uprooted and fell into another tree, which contacted the 69 kilovolt line. Over the last five years, two pine trees have fallen onto residential homes.

“In the last two years, 50 percent of power outages are caused by fallen trees so this is a big deal for us,” Peck said. “If one of those trees had knocked one of those lines over, it would result in a major power outage for the entire West Coast.”

Peck said SDG&E is proposing to remove about 25 trees per year. They have options of removing the trees by big sections or removing selective trees from each section.

“It’s going to look completely different because those are tall, beautiful trees,” Peck said. “They’re just in the wrong place.”

For every tree removed, SDG&E will replace it with two 15-gallon tree replacements that would grow to about 30 to 40 feet at the most. The park won’t look completely barren as there is some underbrush in the area of the trees and the existing acacia trees will remain. After the trees are removed there will be no stump grinding because of the threat of soil erosion on the hillside but for every tree removed, SDG&E has committed to replacing it with two 15-gallon tree replacements that would grow to about 30 to 40 feet at the most.

White said of the two options, it’s almost better to remove the trees at full sections at a time because the replacement trees would be able to be planted and start growing in the three years. If they used the selected tree method, he said the replacements wouldn’t be able to be planted until the work was done in the third year.

“I hate losing such beautiful mature trees, we have so few of them,” said board member Laura Copic. “I just want to make sure we’ve exhausted all possibilities.”

Peck said the removal is the best and only alternative; there is no possibility to underground the lines or co-locate wires on a single pole. Thinning or topping the trees won’t reduce the weight to keep them from falling over, he said.

For the most community outreach, White requested that SDG&E do a formal noticing to residents in the area. Peck said SDG&E has gone door to door and spoken with several customers that live in the immediate area and only one was opposed to removing the trees.

For more information on the tree removal project, contact Erika Ferreira, City of San Diego district manager for the MAD committee at EFerreira@sandiego.gov

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