Landmark tree removed
by Lenny Roberts
Without protest and with the support of Ojai tree activist John
Christianson, Ojai lost another piece of history Monday when
an elderly oak tree was removed from Summer Street.
Although the inner wood appeared not to have any rotting, Ojai
arborist Paul Rogers determined the tree to be in "heavy
decline," according to a report prepared June 18. In that
report, Rogers said the tree was in an unbalanced situation with
four or five loose, dead limbs.
"Since this tree is located in a road and leans over a walk
area, it presents a hazard to those users. The tree is in heavy
decline and its condition will continue to deteriorate,"
Six-year Summer Street resident Steve Foyil, who was born in
Ojai, thought crews from Oscar's Tree Service were just trimming
"It's very sad," he lamented. "Trees in the roads
are what gives Ojai some of its character. It was a landmark,
as far as I'm concerned, like the one on Lion Street, and now
it's gone. We care enough to pave around them, and now it's like
we have no conscience. You can't replace it."
Christianson said he received an e-mail from Tom Bostrom Thursday
stating that, according to Rogers' report, the tree was in a
very hazardous state and in danger of falling at any moment.
Rogers had examined it, confirmed serious structural defects
and recommended for immediate removal.
"I went out and saw it after work that day, and it was troubling
that when you look at it from street level in evening light,
you can't see anything wrong. I could see that a large limb had
been removed," Christianson said.
Christianson said that he took a hazardous tree workshop in January,
where even experts can differ after reviewing a whole spectrum
of analyses. He added that he respects Rogers' decision.
"I understand that the diagnosis was made from someone trimming
in a cherry picker - someone who got up in the tree and saw how
much decay there was. I have a lot of respect for Paul Rogers,
and I also know that Paul is not in the habit of condemning trees
that don't need condemning, so I acceded to the diagnosis of
looking down from an advantage that I didn't have," Christianson
"I can understand Steve's (Foyil) concern of that it looked
like the tree was taken down needlessly, but I think the city
has come a long way in taking care of what trees need to be removed,
and are only taking down trees that are truly hazardous. I wouldn't
have served the truth by raising a holler about the tree. I had
to concede that it looked like the tree needed to come down
Ruben Martinez, of the Ojai Public Works Department, suggested
that many other oak trees in and around the city are approaching
their demise - an evaluation to which Christianson agreed.
"There are aging trees, and when we've built our roads and
houses so close to them, when they start to come undone, were
faced with moving our structures out from under them or removing
them, and of course replanting.
Also, putting lawns and walks near these trees will certainly
stress the trees and hasten their demise."
An agitated Delora Frowein, Foyil's mother, has lived in Ojai
since "19 and 44," she said.
"I wish I'd been home. They'd've had a hell of a time getting
me out of that tree. Seeing a thing like this makes you sick
to your stomach. There's nothing can be done about it now. it
just makes you want to sit down and cry."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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Street resident Steve Foyil and son Jeff view the aftermath.