Santa Paula Times

Fate of Ojai Road pine tree delayed

January 12, 2001
Santa Paula City Council

The fate of an Ojai Road pine tree of significance was up to the City Council at the Jan. 2 meeting.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe fate of an Ojai Road pine tree of significance was up to the City Council at the Jan. 2 meeting.Mary Ann Shelton had asked the city remove the tree from the 1400 block of Ojai Road, which is in the public right of way, noted the report by Public Works Director/City Engineer Norm Wilkinson.The tree is causing damage to Shelton’s property, specifically a block wall and pool area. The pine is also located under Southern California Edison power lines, which could qualify its removal at the utility’s expense.The tree was scheduled to be taken out, but neighbors, Robert and Terri Hylton and Richard Hylton, “strongly objected to its removal,” said Wilkinson.Although other trees slated for removal were spared the ax if objections were received, the “tree in question tonight is on city property and doing damage the neighbor’s property,” including uplifting a retaining wall and cracking of the pool deck.
Although Vice Mayor Ray Luna said “I’m not one for taking down trees,” he noted that building a wall over the roots will “eventually do some damage. . .”Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa asked if SCE or the city has a tree replacement program: “I would love to have a program but the street budget what it is I doubt seriously that we could entertain the idea,” said Wilkinson.Luna questioned Caltrans’ responsibility for the tree since it abuts a highway, but Wilkinson noted that “whether or not the land is technically Caltrans or the city’s it would put a burden on the city. . .Caltrans asserts their jurisdiction when it suits their needs.”An alternative to cutting down the pine tree, trimming the roots between the tree and the retaining wall, was considered, but the small size of the root ball being cut could “run the risk that thing might wind up laying across Ojai Road,” and lead to injuries, Wilkinson added.Shelton addressed the council, noting she did not build the retaining wall; in addition, she has been calling Caltrans and the city since 1995 about the tree and the damage it has caused. The tree is a popular spot for people to seek shade under, she added, and it has lost branches over the years and more are unstable. The tree also blocks the view of motorists, Shelton noted, making “Turning left into Mupu School is a real safety hazard and concern.” She and her husband would be willing to purchase a non-damaging replacement tree, said Shelton, if the city planted it.Staff will now get in touch with the objecting property owners and see if such an idea will solve the problem of removing the pine and replacing the tree if possible.