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Our Vanishing Canopy
Julie Maxey-Allison | 10th Street

A Torrey Pine in the 200 block of 10th Street comes down in 3.5 hours. Note the tree “trimmer” in the top branches.
Photo Julie Maxey-Allison.
Click to enlarge.

As Del Mar develops, as old houses are torn down to make way for grand new ones, often all trees are cut to clear the lot to make way for full basements or for broader views. But one of Del Mar’s most charming characteristics is that our eclectic architecture is garnished with lush, varied vegetation punctuated by tall, long standing trees, among them our rare Torrey Pines.

All our trees serve us well, being beautiful, moderating our climate, reducing carbon emissions, absorbing pollution and also lifting the quality of our air and water, preserving rainfall runoff, providing shade and framing and filtering vistas.
A troubling fact: many of our and the country’s trees are disappearing. A Forest Service study estimates that some 36 million trees a year are lost. Of course, trees riddled with pests or with dangerous weakened limbs or that are just aged out must go. The conundrum, as stated by William Blake in 1799, is apt today: “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in their way.”

A tree removal permit (TRP) is required to cut down trees defined as “protected” in Del Mar Municipal Code (DMMC)Chapter 23.50 and each TRP approved may be for more than one tree. TRP applications are submitted to the Planning Department, processed by Assistant or Associate Planners and approved by the Planning Director reports Matt Bator, Principal Planner for Del Mar. If the TRP is part of an active Design Review Board (DRB) permit application, the DRB makes the decision.
Once a TRP is approved, a 40-50’ tree can be toppled and turned into wood dust in about 3-1/2 hours. So far this year 9 TRPs have been issued. Seventeen TRP’s were issued in 2017, 20 in 2016, 12 in 2015, 15 in 2014, 8 in 2013, 11 in 2012, and 8 in 2011. As the numbers of approved TRPs rises, the count adds up to at least 100 trees downed since 2011.

It’s time to take notice and take care lest Del Mar ends up in the predicament Dr. Seuss warned about in his 1971 book, “The Lorax.” In the book, all the trees were cut, with the Lorax left with one lone seed. A bit of hope. But it takes a very long time for a seed or for even a replacement sapling to “grow up.”

Note: Torrey Pines, Monterey Cypress and all species within the Central Commercial and Open Space Overlay zones are defined as protected trees in Del Mar according to the DMMC code.



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