PG&E showed up Tuesday on Reina Del Mar and Ramona in Vallemar to cut down a heritage Canary Island Palm Tree, which was obstructing electrical wires.
A rerouting of wires happened in 2000 to save two palm trees in Vallemar, but this time around, neighbors could not agree on what to do: pay for undergrounding or pay for pole extensions and rerouting. And then it was too late. The tree is now gone.
Resident Patti Wylie says the palms were planted between 1906 and 1914 before PG&E put in the electrical wiring. Wylie is from the group who wants to raise funds to have pole extensions and rerouting, although PG&E "will not take responsibility and it is up to the neighborhood now to raise these funds or the trees will be lost," she said. Wylie wrote to Patch about the incident:
"Neighbors had a choice of paying $47,000 for extending and rerouting wiring away from the palms or paying $35,000 to $50,000 per home to get undergrounding to save the palms. The group who wanted undergrounding sort of took over and then dropped the ball, thus the first tree on Reina Del Mar and Ramona was cut down by PG&E today. No one could agree this time and now it is too late for this one tree. Will neighbors now come forward and try to save the rest? That remains to be seen ...
"A lot of Vallemar residents that were at the school meeting thought a flyer was going to come to their house to check off if they were for undergrounding for the high cost or want to raise the $47,000. Nothing went out and time passed, thus PG&E had to cut the tree because of safety issues. ... Folks need to get back to the table and try to raise the money to do extensions and reroute before the other trees are cut.
"PG&E wants to do a walk around Calera Creek and discuss the next trees and timeline. They contacted me just before the cutting. Undergrounding will take too long and too expensive for folks like my husband and I who are retired. Can't afford a lean of $35K to $50K at this point in our lives, and I believe because of economy a lot of residents are like minded. Thus fundraising will do a quick fix that will last quite a long time. I've been told that since these trees are over 100 years old they will not get a lot higher so 15 feet will give plenty of time. Who knows by then maybe funding for PUC 20A undergrounding might be available?
"City Council said PUC 20A is used in business areas not residential. Now Palmetto Avenue district, Utility district for 20A funding was established September 1999 and just now in 2013 the undergrounding has started. This process is too long to save the trees and 20A funding is not an option. City only has about $1.5 million in PUC 20A funding to use for future and probablly use for Highway 1. 20B funding is homeowner paid and can happen quicker, but I don't think homeowners on majority can afford it."
What do you think the neighbors should do? Pay for undergrounding or pay for pole extensions and rerouting to save the trees? Or do you think PG&E needs to take responsiblity and save the historic palm trees in Vallemar?
Keep up with local news — follow Patch!
Want to share your opinions with the Pacifica community? Start your own blog here.