Commissioners Tour Trees

By Glenn Wallace
Lompoc, CA (March 6, 2010)- About twice a year, the members of the Lompoc Beautification and Appearance Commission take their monthly meeting on the road. “It’s just so much easier to get out and see what we’re talking about,” said city Parks and Urban Forestry Manager Cindy McCall after she finished driving a van full of commission members around the city Friday.

Commissioner Felicitas Agbodike said the special meeting was “very educational and very helpful.” The topic of the road meeting was the city’s trees, specifically several trouble spots the Beautification Commission might have to make decisions about in the future. One such trouble spot was found on North Third Street, south of Laurel Avenue. “Notice the wonderful flat trees,” McCall said sarcastically as the van pulled to a stop.
Siberian and Chinese elms lined the road, each one “topped,” meaning their uppermost branches had been cut back, giving them a flattop appearance. McCall explained the situation: Electrical power lines above the trees means the city is required to maintain an 8-foot gap between the wires and the treetops. The gap helps to ensure stormy conditions will not knock trees into the lines, and that climbing children could not reach the lines.
“Topping is tough on the trees, because the way the branches grow they are very weakly attached,” McCall said, indicating the unhealthy bark, and tiny unwanted and unproductive “sucker branches,” that each tree in the row seemed to have. McCall said the city could take out the elms and replace them with trees that grew shorter and require less maintenance, “to change this street into something lovely.”
Back in the van, McCall began driving to the next stop. “I really like how Chinese elms look though,” said Commissioner Barry Weaver. “Where they need to be is in a park, somewhere they have room to grow,” McCall added. More Siberian elms sit along College Avenue, crammed underneath power lines. Several had already been removed, allowing for shorter trees to be planted. “Should we get a grant, this is where we’ll be planting,” McCall said.
Along Pine Avenue, in front of Fillmore Elementary School, the commission saw more elms obviously stunted due to power lines above. “These worry me because they’re right next to the walkway, where all the little children walk to school,” McCall said.
Between stops, commissioners and McCall talked about the trees they liked (new stone pines along West Airport Avenue), other beatification problems (such as graffiti and stump removal) and Lompoc’s tree history.
According to McCall, a former city forester is responsible for the number of elms planted around Lompoc, after seeing so many planted in Disneyland and falling in love with them. “I remember when we planted these trees,” said Commissioner Elizabeth Schmidt, pointing to the row of Canary Island date palms planted along the West Laurel Avenue railroad tracks.
The tour then headed to South V Street, and a row of Monterey and Canary Island pines stricken with pine pitch canker, a disease that kills trees. Pine pitch canker has hit Lompoc hard this year. Last month, Lompoc Parks and Recreation officials reported removing roughly a dozen trees in the 100 to 300 blocks of South V Street, the 1100 to 1300 blocks of West Olive Avenue the 300 block of South O Street, and a few trees within River and Beattie parks. “Right now, because of the rain, it’s spreading so fast,” McCall said, pointing out the telltale signs, including the browning tips of the trees and resin flowing from infection sites.
Residents who are concerned that their trees may be infected can contact the city’s Parks Maintenance and Urban Forestry Division at 875-8034, or contact McCall by e-mail at
The next meeting of the Beautification and Appearance Commission will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
Related Resources:
Lompoc Record- Commissioners Tour Trees
City of Lompoc