Street Trees

Return of rain sparks preps, bets on Northern California weather


Originally posted here on Feb 26th


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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —From chainsaws to sewer pumps to tractors, the sounds of preparing for rain could be heard around the Valley on Wednesday.


“We are so thankful for the rain,” said Mary Jane Wittman as she walked her dog at Sacramento’s McKinley Park. “We need it.”


Even as raindrops began falling, a tree crew with West Coast Arborists chopped and sawed off loose and potentially problematic tree limbs along a nine-block stretch of 12th Street.


“When we get some severe weather or anything, we get out all the broken branches, any of (that) stuff that might fall on vehicles or pedestrians,” said Sean Sullivan, of West Coast Arborists.


Elsewhere, Sacramento city crews continued the routine maintenance of clearing storm and sewer drains — that maintenance made all the more important because of the expected heavy rains.


“It’s very, very important because we want everything flowing like it’s supposed to,” said James Wacker, a city of Sacramento employee.


Meanwhile, West Sacramento farmer, Dave Vierra did something he’s never done this early in the year. He planted sweet corn before the arrival of rain.


On the one hand, he said he needed to get into his field now before the rain, because if heavy rains muddied his field, he would have to wait up to three weeks or longer after the showers to plant his crop.


On the other hand, there’s a risk involved to such an early crop of sweet corn.


“It could still freeze if the weather turns,” Vierra said.


But if his bet pays off, he said he’ll be able to supply something far earlier than ever before.


“Sweet corn by Father’s Day,” Vierra said.

Highway 150/Saticoy Street median is well done by beautification effort


By Peggy Kelly

Originally posted in the Santa Paula Times

Feb 26th, 2014

Santa Paula chapter of America in Bloom planted the strawberry tree, a specimen in the family Ericaceae native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland.West Coast Arborists donated the planted the tree, and can grow as high as 30-feet. Employees of West Coast Arborists plant the tree.

Santa Paula chapter of America in Bloom planted the strawberry tree, a specimen in the family Ericaceae native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland.West Coast Arborists donated the planted the tree, and can grow as high as 30-feet. Employees of West Coast Arborists plant the tree.

It’s real name might be arbutus unedo, more commonly known as a strawberry tree but whatever the moniker it sure is going to brighten up the small median at Highway 150/Santa Paula-Ojai Road and Saticoy Street.

Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez said the Santa Paula chapter of America in Bloom planted the strawberry tree, a specimen in the family Ericaceae native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland.

Whatever it is,Yanez said,“It’s planted right there at Barbara We b s t e r S c h o o l ,” d r e s s i n g u p w h a t for years had been a messy small area mostly bushes that at times looked like weeds.

The tree is only the first step: “America in Bloom is planning to put in some drought tolerant plans and a creek bed,” in the median highly visible by passing motorists.

Yanez noted the project is a joint effort:“Our part was to clear it,” by ripping out all that grew in the median and getting the earth ready for the landscaping to come.

West Coast Arborists donated the planted the tree, which Yanez said can grow as high as 30-feet but not be overwhelming.

“It’s kind of like a lollypop tree ,” used extensively by Caltrans for highway beautification

“Some strawberry trees are planted when you get off at Victoria Avenue inVentura,” said Yanez.

“This is what America in Bloom wanted so I just go with the flow,” and more readily when it’s low-flow as in saving water.

Such thinking will also be applied when the city embarks on the 10th Street Beautification Project, which is facing a June design deadline.

The city received a $600,000-plus Caltrans grant for the project that will range from under the Highway 126 underpass -where a mural is planned to welcome commuters-and continue north to Santa Paula Street.

Project enhancements include a mural for the Highway 126 underpass for a defined entryway to the city, street lighting, landscaping improvements for 10th Street facing areas of the Santa Paula Police station, City Hall, and Veterans Park, the latter which will include a bike rack and seating for cyclists. Sidewalk repair, trees, landscaping of museums and other improvements will transform the corridor into a work of art for residents and visitors alike.

Administered by the VenturaCountyTransportation Commission the project will also include crossing safety improvements, encourage safe pedestrian mobility and layout a bicycle path that will connect with the city’s famed recreational trail and further up through one of the city’s most historic residential areas.

“Our goal is to connect it to our Class One bike trail at Railroad Plaza and the Santa Paula bike lane,” said Yanez.

The city continues to work in partnership with America In Bloom on the proposed project.

Yanez said he is pleased that about five companies are bidding on the landscape design project.

Transforming Trees to Treasures in Laguna Niguel




Mark Ranauro planted five sequoia tree saplings in his narrow Laguna Niguel backyard in 1987. It was the year he moved into the house and the same year his son Kyle was born.
Decades later, they’ve grown from just above eye level to more than 50 feet tall, massive shade-providers that loom over his two-story suburban home just off Niguel Road. Ranauro’s backyard feels more Pacific Northwest than Orange County. One sequoia tops out at 65 feet, he said.

“They are like our kids,” Ranauro said of the trees. “It really hurt when we had to cut the first one down.”
When he called an arborist to have a second tree removed earlier this summer – a few dead branches threatened his neighbor’s property – he had a decision to make: He could have the arborist haul it away, or he could keep it. Build something with it.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is an amazing tree,’” Ranauro said. “Wouldn’t it be cool to make it into a piece of furniture?”’
He held onto the most valuable part – a 10-foot, 1,500-pound trunk section now cut up into a stack of 45 boards drying in his garage. He has plans to build a dining room table.
With his project, Ranauro joined a growing push to recycle downed urban trees in Orange County – diverting wood waste from the mulcher or landfill.
Several businesses and organizations including Anaheim-based West Coast Arborists, Woodhill Firewood in Irvine and the Orange County Woodworkers Association have latched onto the trend.
“I’d like to promote it,” Ranauro said. “There’s not as many as up in NorCal, but you’ve still got a lot of great trees down here.”


Some of the prettiest wood found in Orange County comes from trees like American elm, magnolia, red gum eucalyptus and black walnut, said John Dominguez, who heads up a year-old partnership between Woodhill Firewood and West Coast Arborists.
Dominguez is happy to do smaller jobs, like cutting Ranauro’s sequoia trunk into boards, but the focus of his Irvine operation is decidedly large scale.
West Coast Arborists contracts with 250 cities, including several Orange County municipalities. Some 600 tons of wood waste is processed daily at Woodhill Firewood off Bake Parkway.
Some branches are mulched; some turned into firewood. There’s even a resident chainsaw artist, John Mahoney, who operates on one corner of the Woodhill lot.
But often the more desirable pieces – the thick tree trunks like Ranauro’s – are placed in a wood kiln for drying, and later built into items like picnic benches, Dominguez said. Sometimes they’re even sold back to cities where the trees originally came from.


The idea to turn downed urban trees into lumber or artwork isn’t new.
“Woodworkers have always used scrap. They’ve always used what they can for free,” said James Santhon, president of the 230-member Orange County Woodworkers Association.
Dominguez said for a time the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection even had a program where it lent sawmills and wood kilns to anyone who wanted to try milling.
“They wanted municipalities and companies to draw up proposals to divert wood waste from landfills,” he said.
Only more recently, however, has the urban wood recycling program taken off. Woodhill Firewood’s kiln and woodshop are humming – Dominguez recently sold eight picnic tables to the city of Santa Monica, and several outdoor benches made of recycled wood are soon headed to Petaluma, in Northern California.


Plenty of furniture makers and hobbyists call up Dominguez to have a log cut or buy wood for a project, and he hopes to make connections with more. But he warns the tree-to-table type projects aren’t for everyone.
“It’s not just cut down a tree, cut it up and make something,” he said.
Ranauro realized the challenges immediately: It cost $2,000 to have the sequoia carefully cut down, piece by piece, and another $150 for Dominguez to mill it.
Moving the trunk out of his backyard took an afternoon and a small army. They had to roll, pry and jack it up and around his deck, then his gate, and into the front where it could be loaded into a truck and shipped off to the sawmill.
Now, he’ll have to wait more than a year to start construction on the table while the boards dry out in his garage. The moisture content of a fresh log can be as much as 85 percent, Dominguez said, but for woodworking, it needs to be less than 10 percent.
Ranauro has little woodworking experience, outside of a high school woodshop class. But growing up in Lewiston, Maine, a paper mill town, he remembers watching his grandfather collect log remnants from the mill in his truck, and bring them home to his downstairs workshop.
“Everything in the house he made,” Ranauro said. “So I had a fascination with it, even though I never learned how to do it.”


The lengthy process doesn’t scare off some of the avid craftsmen of the Orange County Woodworkers Association, said Larry Marley, the club’s public affairs director. The roar of a chainsaw is enough to get them excited. It’s a sound that club members have dubbed the “call of the wild.”
“They jump in their truck, and go see if they’re cutting down something good,” Marley said.
Other times, residents reach out to the club, Marley said, to see if members want the wood from a tree they’re taking down.
Club members sometimes haul it away for free, before making bowls, toys or furniture with it. Last week, Marley sent out an email informing members of some choice-looking logs sitting in front of a San Clemente house.
Orange County’s “huge variety of trees,” many of them imported from all over the country, make it a special place for woodworkers who are passionate about recycling urban wood, Marley said.
For Ranauro, there is plenty of time to research construction techniques and think about what to do with the numerous sequoia slabs piled in his garage. He left the bark on some edges, for the rustic-looking dining room table he plans to build. His son says he will weld together some metal legs for it.
His friends, co-workers and neighbors have offered ideas for other projects. Apparently there’s something romantic about the closed-loop recycling of a sequoia tree.
“The gal across the street says, ‘Hey, I’d love a cutting board,’” Ranauro said. “Everybody wants a piece of it.”
Contact the writer: 949-492-0401 or


1. Select and cut

Utilizing recycled wood is increasingly popular, and craftsmen and hobbyists in the Orange County Woodworkers Association are always on the hunt for unique tree species.

2. Transport

Moving massive branches and logs to the sawmill is an arduous process. Renauro’s 10-foot 1,500 pound sequoia log required car jacks and lots of manpower to move.

3. Milling

Woodworkers can have their more pristine tree trunks and wood cut into planks at Woodhill Firewood in Irvine. The operation has a saw and wood kiln — even its own resident chainsaw artist, John Mahoney.

4. Drying

Unless you have a kiln to speed the process, drying out “green” wood can take anywhere from one to three years, depending on moisture content. If utilized too soon, the wood can warp and crack as it continues to dry.

5. Build it

Ranauro plans to build a dining room table, while some OCWA craftsmen often create smaller items like bowls and toys from recycled wood.

Council Approves Contract for Tree-trimming and Inventory of all City Trees


Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 9:00 am

by Anna Mavromati  – Originally Posted here in The Beach Reporter

The city of Manhattan Beach will conduct an inventory of all trees on city property for the first time in more than a dozen years and will better keep up with trimming of large trees.

Last week, the Manhattan Beach City Council awarded a three-year contract for tree-trimming and inventory services to West Coast Arborists, Inc., an Anaheim-based organization. The estimated annual fee for the service is $130,000.

West Coast Arborists will inventory trees on city property and advise the city in terms of trimming larger trees and setting up policies for trees on public property. Public Works Director Jim Arndt pointed out that the city has a particular concern with trees over 30 feet tall that need trimming.

The city has not conducted a tree inventory in more than a dozen years.

“I think we all know large trees in large areas can cause concern if not kept up maintenance-wise,” Arndt said. “This is for trees the city is responsible for, trees in city parks, city medians and on city facilities.”

West Coast Arborists is offering Manhattan Beach a similar contract to their 2010 agreement with the city of Beverly Hills. The Manhattan Beach contract is being offered for 2010 prices as well. Arndt said that the company has a good reputation for professionalism and expertise.

“[West Coast Arborists] are premiere arborists, known for what they do,” he said. “Landscape firms trim trees but not like dedicated arborists. We’ve upped the ante on what kind of service we’ll be seeing in our trees.”

There was some discussion on whether or not the city should have conducted an open bid before choosing to “piggyback,” as council members phrased it, off of West Coast Arborist’s contract with Beverly Hills.

Arndt said he was confident that West Coast Arborists was the right choice for the city and that the cost of the firm’s services was based on consistent unit prices.

“If the question is, ‘Could we do it cheaper?’ I suppose,” Arndt said. “But can we do it with more expertise or better special abilities? No.”

Currently, the city’s under-30-foot trees are being trimmed by two different landscape contractors for an extra cost.

After West Coast Arborists conducts its inventory, in which the firm will log the diameter type, condition, trimming strategies and geo-codes of the city’s trees, they will make a recommendation to the city on how to handle the maintenance of the trees.

Currently, “parkway” trees, those city-owned trees that adjoin private property and are the responsibility of the adjoining property owner not the city, are not included in the contract and inventory. Council members directed staff to look into including those trees in the contract.

“I would like to see an inventory of (parkway) trees, especially if they’re overgrown, not being maintained,” said Councilmember Wayne Powell. “That is absolutely essential. This is long overdue. I’m glad we’re getting to where we should be.”

West Coast Arborists estimated it will take four to six weeks to complete the inventory. They will return to the council in July with the results.

“Trees are very important to our city,” Councilmember Tony D’Errico said. “This is aggressive, and it is a good thing in my mind. I feel comfortable that the vendor selected is the right vendor.”

A Journey Through the City’s Treasured Trees


Originally posted here in the OC Register By DOLORES R. TAFOYA / GUEST COLUMNIST

Spring arrives and I can clearly see “the forest for the streets.” Not far from where I live, Eisenhower Park’s palms, ficus and pepper trees wave to drivers on Lincoln Avenue. And as I leave my neighborhood and head south toward the city plaza, I pass towering pines on the street’s south side and turn left toward town on Glassell Street.

The business complexes on both sides of Glassell harbor some budding trees as well as ficus and pines at this point. After crossing the intersection at Taft Street, I continue on Glassell and come across the evergreens. It is not the only street adorned by the domed-top, clean-looking trees in the city; Katella Avenue, west of Tustin Street, has them along both sides, as well as Chapman Avenue. I have often admired them when heading toward the center of town from Tustin Street, where they flank the street.

And it is on this journey from North Glassell that I finally recall where I have seen this familiar canvas. I have heard people call them “lollipops.” Their rounded tops, however, remind me of Georges-Pierre Seurat’s pointillism masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” I can almost see the umbrella tops, men’s caps and even the bustle on the women’s dresses. What an adventure this ride is becoming!

I cross Katella Avenue and as I continue on, I see a line of dark, smokestack-looking palms reach out to the sky and burst with feathering palm leaves at the top. The palms are so tall, it’s easier to appreciate them from a distance. A variety of sycamores, liquid ambers, palms and pines follow, infusing the scenery with the homey, welcoming, picturesque quality of this city.

Closer to the end of my drive are the majestic heights of the “queen palms” in front of the law building at the Chapman academia. So prestigious looking are they. They appear to represent the attainable knowledge and pride offered in their environment.

After passing the university, I see the green island – Plaza Park. As I encircle it, heading east on Chapman toward the library, my destination, I take in the collection of trees therein. There stands a magnolia, Italian cypress, ficus, pine and other trees. Among them also is the once-ubiquitous orange tree, our city namesake.

My family has lived in two neighborhoods in Orange, one by a large orchard, which is now a recreational park, and the other with the adorning jacarandas on our street’s green belts. After more than 40 years, it is with pride and admiration that I take in the city’s lovely trees amid brick and stucco structures, black asphalt and concrete pavements. Trees are to be treasured, indeed.

– Dolores R. Tafoya has lived in Orange for 44 years; she and her husband have three children and four grandchildren. Tafoya worked for the school district for 22 years and retired as library media technician in 2006. She now volunteers at the Orange Public Library.

City of Torrance Removes Decayed Eucalyptus Trees


Originally posted here by

The City of Torrance has completed the removal of eight large eucalyptus trees – some so massive workers used a crane to cut off some big branches – on El Prado Avenue. The trees, at least 60 years old, were so decayed in some cases that when a limb hit the ground “it was just like sawdust,” said Streetscape Manager Judy Emerson. New lemon-scented gum eucalyptus will replace the removed trees.


Work crew from West Coast Arborists cut down giant eucalyptus trees in Old Torrance along El Prado. Eight trees in all were removed. Photo by Brad Graverson 1-21-13


Benito Canales from West Coast Arborists cuts down giant eucalyptus trees in Old Torrance along El Prado. Eight trees in all were removed. Photo by Brad Graverson 1-21-13

Over 800 Palms Trimmed in Coronado


Originally Posted here.

Have you heard the buzzing outside your windows this week?  That is the sound of West Coast Arborists trimming over 800 palm trees up and down Coronado streets (not counting Orange Avenue).  We spoke with supervisor Victor Hernandez who shared that “trimming in Coronado is a wonderful place to work – we love working these beautiful streets in this community.”  As soon as one truck finished trimming, another truck was behind it to gather the fallen debris.

When the high winds and rain come to Coronado, the risk of branches and debris falling is much lower due to the tree trimming.

Nice job City of Coronado and West Coast Arborists, Inc.



Article and photo by eCoronado