Solana Beach district removes damaged Torrey pine trees

Blue skies have replaced the tall trees that used to fill this stretch of road in front of the SBSD offices.
(Karen Billing)

When the Solana Beach School District recently removed seven Torrey pine trees along its office’s North Rios Road frontage, the largest tree log was 10 feet long and weighed 10,000 pounds.

This summer the district had made the difficult decision to remove the trees due to safety concerns and Vice President Dana King said he could only imagine that weight coming down on the district’s office or neighboring homes.

“It’s regrettable but it was definitely the right thing to do,” King said of the removals at the board’s Aug. 10 meeting.

With natural growth Torrey pine trees typically grow to be 40 to 50 feet tall but the seven trees in Solana Beach had been artificially irrigated and reached 70 to 80 feet tall. SDG&E pruning to keep branches off the nearby power lines created uneven crowns, damaging the trees’ natural form and structure. During storm events, residents would often reach out to the district about their fears of branches or trees falling.

The removal work was completed over six days from July 31 through Aug. 5— the large undertaking involved a 300-foot crane and eight semi-trucks, according to John Leland, the district’s assistant superintendent of administrative operations,

The stumps were grounded and West Coast Arborist’s program Street Tree Revival took a significant amount of lumber to be re-used and re-purposed. The district also cut several cross-sections of the trees to bring to schools and allow students to check out and count the rings: “One eight-inch piece takes four people to lift,” Leland said.

In the remaining area, some parking lot repairs need to be made, as well as a fence replacement. There will also be new trees in the future—the district is part of a tree renewal partnership project with SDG&E and the city of Solana Beach to review more utility-friendly trees to plant in that area as replacements.