Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

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Source: City of Santa Barbara

Today the Santa Barbara City Attorney’s Office filed a misdemeanor complaint alleging four criminal counts against James Allen Carr and Enrique Calles Vasquez.

The filing is the result of investigations conducted by City Park Rangers and the City Attorney’s Office prosecution staff following the removal of trees in the 1700 block of Paterna Road.

The defendants are charged with three counts of violating Santa Barbara Municipal Code section 15.20.115, Unlawful Tree Removal at Parkway, and one count of violating Santa Barbara Municipal Code section 15.24.020, Unlawful Tree Removal at Setback.  The maximum sentence for each count is six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.

Mayor Cathy Murillo said, “I believe this is an appropriate response from the City.  All Santa Barbarans suffer when our urban forest is damaged.  I would urge anyone with concerns about street trees or trees in their front yard to contact the City’s urban forestry staff before doing any cutting or pruning.”

City Attorney Ariel Calonne separately announced that he will seek City Council authority to bring a civil action to recover treble damages for trespass

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ZeroHawk Dec 23, 2020 11:43 AM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

@259, well said. this issue is a bother, and the city is in the wrong. talk about going way too far, government over reach. If it's on public land, i can somewhat accept the response, but on private property? That's a bit much. I've dealt with the city regarding trees and they are...well complete jerks about it. We cut the one bothering us and received all sorts of stupid baseless threats from the city and guess what? None of it went anywhere. A lot of bickering and a huge waste of our tax dollars. Cathy is a friend of mine, but an awful city leader and really needs to stay out of it.

a-1608790471 Dec 23, 2020 10:14 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

Three of these four trees are on public property; the four, in the setback, is, according to the municipal code, in the front setback subject to city jurisdiction. If Santa Barbarans do not like these regulations, that is, that the adjacent homeowner can do whatever they want to the trees on the parkway, then change the laws. I hope this homeowner is punished to the full extent of the law, especially because his employees continued to destroy the trees after being told to stop.

ZeroHawk Dec 23, 2020 11:41 AM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

what? How about working with the people that OWN the land and the homes? Most of these trees are not indigenous to our region on the globe. i've personally dealt with the city and their tree people....they are complete @zzholz and are very rude and condescending. I can bet my paycheck that this guy did reach out and received the same poor treatment and lack of response that I did and my neighbors.

CoastWatch Dec 23, 2020 12:33 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

Once again, it's called "Selective Enforcement"...If you have the mean$, (Homeowner, vested job, saving accounts, etc) you are open game for prosecution as there is a benefit for government... If you are a vagrant, or someone without "mean$" you are bypassed any "enforcement" unless you do "bodily harm" to someone within the State of California- The DA's will not pursue anything...

yacht rocked Dec 23, 2020 12:46 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

I like trees, but these were basically Eugenia bushes trimmed over many years to be rectangles with thick trunks. These were not heritage Oaks or rare specimens. I would think the City would be happy to have the owner pay to replace them with something more suitable plus legal expenses as an appropriate fine.

mtndriver Dec 23, 2020 02:38 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

Speaking as a certified tree-hugger, I still have to agree with Yacht Rocked here. The Eugenia species in question is a shrub, not a tree, and these were pretty ugly specimens, sheared to look like hat boxes on sticks (suitable for Billy Goodnick's "Crimes Against Horticulture" Facebook page). Definitely should have applied for a permit, but actual trees would be a welcome replacement for the tortured shrubs that are gone.

dpj Dec 23, 2020 12:59 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

I have tried to work with the city to get my trees trimmed and they make it extremely difficult. Basically the tree has be an imminent danger or diseased. And the urban forest guy has the final say with no explanation needed. If he says "no permit" there is no permit issued. Basically I had to beg and agree to pay for all costs and then he allowed minimal pruning to keep the trees off my roof.

OAITW Dec 23, 2020 04:38 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

For those stating that these trees are on private property, you should reread the article. It states that they are charged with removing the trees from the parkway. The parkway is the city owned strip of land between the road and your property. The parkway allows the city to install sidewalks without taking private property. The trees growing on the parkway are city property.

That said, the city, through the 'Urban Forestry Department', what used to be the city arborist, AKA Tim Downey, does a really awful job of maintaining it's property to the detriment of private property owners. I have spent years trying to get Tim to maintain the tree in the parkway in front of my property. There is a legal process in common law called adverse possession where you can take possession of abandoned property. It would be nice to use this to take the parkway from the city. Unfortunately it can't be used on city property.

EastBeach Dec 23, 2020 07:37 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

5:57PM - Do you have a link to share that asserts the parkway in SB is not city property? A quick search indicates that at least in the city of Goleta, the parkway is owned by the city (so must not be a hard/fast rule) .... https://www.goletamonarchpress.com/2017/02/whats-on-your-parkway/

a-1608836655 Dec 24, 2020 11:04 AM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

THE CITY HAS A RIGHT OF WAY WHICH INCLUDE THE PARKWAY STRIP. THIS IS NOT CITY PROPERTY BUT THE CITY HAS POWERS OVER IT. HERE ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES:

SBMC 15.20.020 PARKWAY STRIP. Either (1) the area between the curb and sidewalk within a fully improved street right-of-way; or (2) that area extending six feet from the curb towards the nearest right-of-way line in an area with no sidewalk; or (3) any area within a street right-of-way in which an official or parkway tree is located.

PARKWAY TREE. A tree planted or caused to be planted by the City within a street right-of-way.

SBMC 15.20.150 Injuring Trees - Unlawful Acts.
It is unlawful for any person to injure or destroy any tree growing within a City street right-of-way
THUS THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME CONFLICT AS TO WHETHER THE CITY IS LIMITED TO PROTECTION ONLY OF 'PARKWAY TREES' WHICH IT HAS 'PLANTED OR CAUSED TO BE PLANTED.' ALSO IN THIS CASE IT MAY BE ARGUED THAT THE PLANTS IN QUESTION WERE NOT TREES AT ALL.

Basicinfo805 Dec 23, 2020 05:18 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

Property owner 15, City 0
I'm glad we live in the County, slightly less lame when it comes to this stuff. The homeless contrast is interesting. Such a hypocritical city system. The less money you have the less rules you have. Go for it homeless, do whatever the he-- you want!

Shame Dec 24, 2020 07:50 AM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

I have called the city multiple times to have them trim the trees on our street which drop and a massive amount of berries which is a hazard it’s also filthy.they stain out cars. We have palm trees putting huge palm fronds all over our yard they never come and clean them. they expect us to water the trees. They’re not gonna take proper care of the trees they shouldn’t have them

SBTownie Dec 24, 2020 09:55 AM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

I'm actually really surprised at these comments. Maybe EdHat readers aren't familiar with Paterna Road? It is one of the loveliest and most unique streets in SB, bordered by stone walls, and a unique and uniform length of these eugenia trees lovingly cared for by the residents. This property was just sold and I have suspicions it was to someone who is flipping it. There is a Jim Carr contractor based in Santa Maria and a listing with a Jim Carr broker on another half-finished house nearby. I actually saw the crew there cutting down the hedging at the front of the property while out on a walk. I think the homeowner whoever they are should have every right to do that. But cutting the trees in the parkway that form a contiguous and celebrated look down the entire length of the street was wrong. There was a Mercedes G-Wagon with LA plate frames parked outside the home, too, so my suspicions about who the owner is may not be correct and perhaps it's someone from LA and not related to the local contractor. I would urge anyone who thinks this was fine to visit the street themself and see if they still agree. This is a loss for the community and the neighbors are certainly right to be upset.

Researching_Beh... Jan 06, 2021 11:27 PM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

Above, an Edhat writer SB Townie said, "There is a Jim Carr contractor based in Santa Maria and a listing with a Jim Carr broker on another half-finished house nearby." Jim Carr the tree cutter is a home flipper and a contractor. He told us he flipped his home on Mira Vista and bought Paterna.

SBTownie Jan 23, 2021 08:15 AM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

I thought some EdHat readers might be interested in an update on this. The home which I suggested was bought by a flipper from out of town, is now on the market for 2 million more than it was purchased for in November. I witnessed this event happening (well, we walked past it right after it happened and I didn't realize the lollipop eugenia [which I like] had been cut down, and NO I did not report this) and noted that I saw a Mercedes G-Wagon with LA plate frame and LA workcrew outside of the home. The flipper appears to have given the house a paint job, and chopped down half of its landscape, and now wants to sell it for 2 million more than he bought it for 2 months ago. You can look at the listing if you're interested: https://www.redfin.com/CA/Santa-Barbara/1708-Paterna-Rd-93103/home/21605039?utm_source=myredfin&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=listings_update&riftinfo=
ZXY9ZW1haWwmbD0yMDQ1OTIxMiZwPWxpc3RpbmdfdXBkYXRlc19kYWlseV8y
NCZhPWNsaWNrJnM9ZmF2b3JpdGVzJnQ9aW1hZ2UmZW1haWxfaWQ9MjA0N
TkyMTJfMTYxMTM5NjU4OV8xNCZ1cGRhdGVfdHlwZT0xJmxpc3RpbmdfaWQ9M
TI3NjE5MDgyJnByb3BlcnR5X2lkPTIxNjA1MDM5JnBvc2l0aW9uX251bWJlcj0w.
Flippers have a bad reputation, sometimes unfairly - but this is really sleazy. 2 million for a paint job and cutting down trees that gave the street a uniform character. I'm pro property rights in most instances, but I don't think any of us should be happy about this.

a-1613904021 Feb 21, 2021 02:40 AM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

February 20, 2021.
The City Landmarks Commission has a problem with the color of prospective trees.

"The commission raised questions about the numbers and types of trees proposed as part of the project. RRM Design proposed floss silk trees, which produce pinkish-purple leaves, and palo verde trees, which have green and yellow foliage.

The city also plans to preserve the pepper tree in front of City Hall."

Some of the commissioners felt the landscape plan included too many trees that created too much color.
"I am not sure that color, while it would be a desirable, I am not sure color in the trees is necessary in a traditional plaza," Lenvik said. "I am not pleased with what I see."

The city also plans to preserve the pepper tree in front of City Hall.

https://www.noozhawk.com/article/santa_barbara_de_la_guerra_plaza_renovation_20210220

a-1613924825 Feb 21, 2021 08:27 AM
Santa Barbara City Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges on Paterna Rd Tree Removals

Our neighborhood had the opposite problem - the property owner neglected to care for one of those rare, knarled Japanese tea tree. It was steady for years, but the property owner requested it to be trimmed, cut drastically and despite neighbors requesting the city and the tree trimmer to wait or trim it artfully, it was just hacked away.

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