Windstorm cleanup and tree safety addressed

Windstorm cleanup  and tree safety addressed
Fallen trees from a late January storm wreaked havoc on roadways around the county, including Rancho Santa Fe. Courtesy photo

RANCHO SANTA FE — Rancho Santa Fe continues its cleanup efforts following the powerful Pacific rain and windstorm that pummeled San Diego County on Jan. 31. Downed trees forced road closures.

“That was the most damage I’ve ever seen from a wind event we had on that Sunday night,” said Arnold Keene, field operations manager at the Rancho Santa Fe Association (RSFA).

Keene took part in a presentation at the last RSFA board meeting showing photos on how certain areas of the Covenant looked the following morning.

“We had five roads closed Monday morning when I got here due to the trees falling over the road,” he said, adding how most of the power was returned that evening. “By Monday evening, all the roads were open”

Keene told the board and members present that cleanup is still underway. Tree canopies are being assessed on whether or not they need to be removed for safety issues.

The big goal the Association achieved was to reopen the roads as quickly as possible while keeping the community and staff members safe.

On the topic of safety, RSFA board member Kim Eggleston addressed dead trees he notices when driving around the Ranch. He also described them as stressed properties.

Eggleston wanted to know from Keene how residents of these properties could be contacted to reduce these potential fire hazards and take care of their trees.

“We contact people when we see a dead tree, a fire hazard or when we receive a call or complaint,” said Keene, adding how the fire department is also very active especially in the springtime.

Eggleston then wanted to know if the fire department could issue an order.

Keene said that could be done and it is considered enforceable.

“The fire department in the past has gone onto properties in what they call a forced abatement,” he said, noting how the cleanup costs are added onto a property owner’s tax bill.

Eggleston voiced that he thought something should be on the Association website to alert members on the importance of tree maintenance.

If El Niño turns out to be a bust coupled with another warm summer, Eggleston said, the threat of fire will be on the rise and residents should clear out their dead trees.

“Because they’re affecting the safety for the entire community just by sheer neglect,” he said.

RSFA Board member Fred Wasserman said that the “tree issue” is considered a serious one and they are looking at some rules and regulations in terms of unkempt properties.  While discussions are taking place with the Committee on the Natural Environment, the topic will also be on the July agenda when the governing documents committee convenes again.

“That’s on our agenda, and also the co-committees from looking at this tree issue as well.  We’re very concerned,” Wasserman said. “So we are going to have to put some teeth into our CC&Rs and our articles in order to deal with this.”

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