Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More Than 100 Trees Removed Today

As just about everyone on our part of the planet knows by now, this morning the City of Newport Beach, at the direction of City Manager Dave Kiff, commenced removing more than 100 Blue Gum Eucalyptus trees from the center median on Irvine Avenue from 17th Street/Westcliff Drive to 19th Street/Dover Drive. It was one of these trees that toppled last Thursday and crushed the car in which 29 year-old Haeyoon Miller was driving and killed her. You can read the most recent Daily Pilot article HERE.

The location of these trees is only a few blocks from my home, so
I visited the site this afternoon to observe the removal. By the time I got there - around 2 p.m. - almost all of the trees had been chopped down and removed from the site. I suspect that all had been removed by the time the crews from West Coast Arborists finished for the day. According to one man from WCA with whom I spoke, they will be finished with the job by Thursday afternoon, including grinding the stumps of all the extracted trees.


Here's a view taken by a Google Earth flyby from th
eir most recent archive of the area. You can get an idea of the scope of this project and a good idea of the size of the trees. The remainder of the photos are those I took this afternoon, which shows the extent of the demolition, the crews cutting down a tree, stumps being ground and Costa Mesa motorcycle officers standing-by to protect onlookers from injury.

At last night's City Council meeting I spoke briefly before it began with Peter Naghavi, then-Director of Public Works - now Interim Assistant CEO. He told me he had a meeting scheduled with Kiff in the morning to discuss the arborist's findings about the trees. He did not know at the time that Kiff had already made the decision to begin removing those trees first thing Wednesday, today. In fact, after the meeting began one member of the Costa Mesa Police Department present told me that Irvine Avenue was already blocked off.

During the meeting
Planning Commissioner and Sanitary District Director Jim Fitzpatrick - a fellow-Eastsider who lives only a few hundred feet from Irvine Avenue - addressed the council and, in an agitated state, complained that he shouldn't have to hear about the removal of the trees from the media - that he expected to get that information from our city first. While I don't disagree with him, all the parties who might have provided that information were attending the council meeting. That logic escaped him - no surprise.


After I visited the site of the tree removal this afternoon I contacted Dave Kiff, who filled me in on what he felt was a very urgen
t situation based on consultation with four separate arborists. Their consensus was that all the potentially damaging trees should be removed immediately. He had communicated directly with Gary Monahan earlier today and sent me a copy of his 2-page letter outlining his reasoning. I've provided an image of that letter below. If you have difficulty reading the letter just click on each page.

I was unable to reach Naghavi today to find out just what happened from the Costa Mesa standpoint. As indicated in Kiff's letter, a cooperative effort between Newport Beach and Costa Mesa to decide how to replace those trees will be undertaken soon. It is assumed that there will be resident input in this process.


Unknown at this time is the fate of the several dozen trees of the same species that are
presently growing along Irvine Avenue in Costa Mesa territory. My neighborhood, for example, was once 20 acres of sweet potatoes and was completely ringed by those trees, which were planted early in the century as wind rows to protect the farms from wind-blown erosion. It appears that most, but not all, are growing on private property. Many of them are in great need of thinning before winter, such as it is in these parts, sets in and we get soaked soil and wind storms.

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Blogger Joe said...

I can't believe they removed 100 trees on the Eastside and missed Fitzpatrick!

Some of the remaining stumps probably have more sense.

9/22/2011 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

I guess I don't understand what Fitzpatrick expected Costa Mesa to notify him about, since CM officials didn't know Newport had already decided to remove the trees. Was Peter Naghavi supposed to invite all the neighbors to his Wednesday morning on-site meeting with Newport officials? Then they could have heard, at the same time Mr. Naghavi heard, that the decision had already been made - by Newport Beach, not Costa Mesa.

9/22/2011 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous hbrocks said...

Beware your surroundings.
The whole backside of the FairGrounds along Arlington is lined with these same majestic Blue Gum/Red Gum Eucalyptus, some appear to be severely leaning.
Also, earlier this year over at Bark Park a 1/2 ton branch from one of these trees unexpectedly came crashing down and crushed a parked car.

9/22/2011 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

As we both know, he was acting even more aberrational Tuesday night than usual. He wandered back and forth from his seat to near-proximity to the speaker's podium a couple times before he spoke. I still don't understand why he was permitted to speak at that time - it was not a time for public comments - and then all he did was vent his spleen at Naghavi for something over which he had absolutely no control. I fear the poor young fella may be losing his grip on reality.

9/22/2011 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, hbrocks, Naghavi is planning an assessment of ALL such trees in light of recent events in my neighborhood. Beautiful, majestic trees, but...

9/22/2011 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Adam said...

"poor" is right Geoff. I see his pronto wash car in front of city hall on my way to work and home all the time. He's just like McCarthy in his delusional thought of becoming a council member. We've learned boys, no one will vote for any of the incumbents or the clowns from planning commission!

What Fitzy? You mean your buddies in council couldn't award the city carwash contract to your failure of a parking basement carwash?

Perhaps those plans were flushed down the toilet along with the midget skirt wearer's plans of a corner location for his bar at the fairgrounds!

9/22/2011 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

I got a call from the City of CM (recording) telling me that Irvine Ave would be closed on Wed. Figuring out why was pretty easy.

9/22/2011 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Dingbat says what? said...

Wait just a minute. Are you telling me that the City of Costa Mesa had no idea that these trees were being cut down? Really? Costa Mesa did not participate in any of the deliberations or considerations, and this whole event came as a complete surprise to the senior leadership of our City? Really?

We see so many comments about how wonderful our city employees are. Yet too often the reality is that many are way over paid and make bad decisions.

The news stories say that there is an agreement since 2002 between CM & NB. We wonder where it says that NB should execute a plan very well to protect the interests of NB. And that it is OK for CM to do nothing, anticipate nothing (Many that live on the Eastside anticipated the possibility that ALL trees would come down) plan for nothing. Simply be called to a meeting by NB in the morning. That is not what we expect from Costa Mesa employees.

Was there no one to delegate to? We wonder if the rumor is true, that the City comes to a complete halt when our expensive City employees drive back to their non Costa Mesa neighborhoods at 5pm, or stay home on Friday.

Someone told me that Naghavi said the NB Arborist would not park his car with kids near those trees, or something like that. We wonder if anyone in Costa Mesa had any concern for our residents who were home or sleeping under the same type of trees a couple feet away. Furthermore, is that anecdote a scientific finding for the removal of 100 trees?

We think there is a trend occurring. Anyone or anything that Geoff West challenges is probably a good thing or person for our City.

Joe, you know that Fitzpatrick is also on the Sanitary District. Maybe we should ask him for help to take out the real trash in this City, or at least ask for help in recycling the cranky old farts into thriving families with children.

9/22/2011 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Haters keep on Hating said...

I get it Adam. You are angry. You say his car is at City Hall all the time. OK, seems like you are like many others who simply want retired people, on a pension, no young families, to only show up at required meetings and to vote the way the Union wants. It would appear to make the current Council haters happier.

Fitzpatrick has no desire to be on Council.

9/22/2011 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Ur so dingy said...


Who do you think cleans up our city streets after hours after an accident? Our city employees.

Who do you think cleans up all the graffiti in the middle of the night after gangsters tag it? Our city employees. I know for a fact our graffiti team removed graffiti in the very early morning hours when you're sleeping in your Newport beach bed and preparing to drive through our town.

Who do you think acts as emergency disaster workers when disaster strikes? Our employees do. Oh wait, all the building inspectors are private contractors now and have no contractual obligation nor do they have the required training to do the work. Furthermore, they are not authorized to transmit on necessary frequencies.

9/22/2011 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...


Read that stump remark, totally unexpected, nor was prepared. Laughed Out Loud!

Next time I will wait to read "comments" after the staff meeting is over. Got a "Stink Eye" from the boss.

Adding insult to injury, the boss is my wife.

9/22/2011 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous 2nd Dingbat for discussion said...

Danny Boy, you need authority to plan? You need authority to anticipate a possible outcome and develop a plan? You need authority have CM arborist to go and evaluate those and CM’s trees.

Those are CM’s trees. You need authority to develop the appropriate agreement so Newport Beach does not run roughshod all over you? You need authority to develop working relationships with other cities so you are not completely surprised? You need authority to delegate? You need authority to perform duties after 5pm?

We do not think so. You have shown your true colors. We are also concerned that you posted during working hours. I think City Hall should be investigated for potential posting during work hours. I could go on all day.

9/22/2011 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Eastside lady said...

I am not sure that Peter Naghavi would of been the right person to ask. I believe he oversees several divisions, but each of those divisions has managers who are involved in the day to day operation of their divisions. There is a number to call if you have issues with a city owned tree and it directs you Maintenance Services. When I called about my City tree, I was told a work order was created and then a gentlemen named Dean Rodia came out and evaluated my tree. He gave me his card and told me he is a certified arborist. Maybe Mr. Nahgavi had not yet been informed when Geoff had asked about the trees. Someone in the city knew because the street had already been blocked off.

9/22/2011 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous I'm gonna tell on you! said...

@2nd dingbat

Oooh....I'm sure everyone is shaking! Lmfao!!! There are plenty of "investigations" and unnecessary ones from Talon to tell us something we already know. Whatcha gonna do? Request a public info request? Oooooh

Keep messing with the "prisoners" messy, prisoners will riot!!!

I'm sure Dannyboy is shaking!!!

Do something productive like run a business into the ground with your pals messy & piggy!

Love your blog Geoff!!!

9/22/2011 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Business said...

I have a business. I arrived to find the street closed and unauthorized vehicles in the lot.

There was no communication, no one to help.

We called Fitzpatrick who promptly provided information and contacts.

We lost a lot of business and had to send employees home.

Great that it was only 1 day. Tragic. But did not have to be this way.

9/22/2011 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Sad but true said...

Eucalyptus trees are known down under as
"dead man trees". During weather,if you took refuge under one, large branches would fall and kill. So gaining that reputation. It's time for them to go.
Remember if there had been a previous incident or another incident with a report it is constructive notice and the liabilty is very high

9/22/2011 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

OCLonghair said:
Read that stump remark, totally unexpected, nor was prepared. Laughed Out Loud!


Thanks! Meant to introduce myself at the picnic but MY boss texted and I had to leave.. Next time..

9/22/2011 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Eastside lady said...

Business...Did you not get the call indicating that Irvine Avenue would be closed on Wednesday? I did. I am also curious if Newport Beach decided that the trees had to come out that day, is Costa Mesa totally responsible to close the street and inform the residents and businesses? Maybe the work could of been delayed a few days so that a better coordination effort could of occurred. From what I can decipher, the City Manager of Newport Beach made the decision that the trees were coming out and Costa Mesa had to scramble to make sure the street closures were in place in time along with notifying area businesses and residents. This is just speculation on my part as someone who lives in that area.

9/22/2011 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Eucalyptus trees were originally an import from Australia. It was done by the railroad, which had the idea that the wood would make good railroad ties. After whole forests were planted and matured, they found that the wood was useless for their purposes. Neither was the wood useful for woodworking; put a block on a lathe, and it drools all over your tools and produces woodpulp, not sawdust. The two in my yard fill my patio with sharp crap and leaves, and the leaves exude an oil that kills other vegetation and (I am told) smells. If one catches fire, the eucalyptus oil burns brighter and more fiercely than pine pitch. California should never have had to deal with this invasive foreign species, and I am glad that their population has been reduced by a significant number.

That having been said, I worry over what the political establishment will replace these majestic weeds with. God forbid that it should be pine trees. Let no consideration be given to palms, as they usually become homes for rats and we've got quite enough of those, what with the current city council. I love walnut trees, but they take 'way too much water. Coast oaks tend to be bushy and prickery. Sycamores? Macrophyllum maples? Elms are messy and tend to be susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease. Jacaranda tend to deposit their blue blossoms all over. My preference would be to replace these euc's with Moreton Bay Fig trees. They provide wonderful shade, last something over a century (None of us will see them die), don't deposit crud all over everything, and look really good.

We should also remember, when the roots of these giants start upending concrete slabs, that it takes two or three days to replace a concrete slab, but twenty to forty years to replace a tree...

This is my suggestion; I'd let go of it if anyone well-versed in California native plants, or drought-resistant trees, has a better or more ecologically-sound one. But could we leave it to experts this time, and keep a muzzle on the politicians and grafters?

9/22/2011 08:10:00 PM  
Anonymous SeeUnder the Hood... said...

Martin: Even with your hood on we know who you are.

9/22/2011 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Danny Boy said...


On the computer blogging in on City time? Nope, that's Lobdell. Sorry, Martin, I live close COSTA MESA, so I go home at lunch.

WRONG as always Millard...
please move ... please...

9/23/2011 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Arbol said...

@2nd dingbat. Actually those trees were NOT CM trees. They were Newport trees. Newport took ownership of them and the median years ago, CM was completely indemnified at the time of the turnover. CM had no responsibilty to remove them, nor authority to remove them.

As for authority to perform duties after 5pm, yes. If it takes an employee past their normal work hours for the day, the overtime doe have to be approved first. So, if the event was planned by Newport, then CM was brought in to assist in the endeavor, they had to eitherapprove overtime or adjust schedules for involved parties. All of which did happen.

9/23/2011 11:19:00 PM  

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