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What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Santa Barbara?
Many of the trees seen in Santa Barbara are fairly exotic thanks to the area being a Mediterranean climate. Many who moved to Santa Barbara decades ago brought various tropical trees and plants to the region to beautify the area after initially looking barren. Those trees continue to flourish today.
Quite a few of the city’s trees have unique flowers with connections from as far away as Australia or South America. Erythrina (or a coral tree) is a good example of this. These have bright red flowers, long corolla tubes, plus produce nectar that attracts hummingbirds.
Some other popular trees in Santa Barbara include:
California Bay Laurel
While only a partial list above, these trees are extremely valued by Santa Barbara residents. All of these tree species are also susceptible to different things.
Every year, Santa Barbara loses trees due to situations seemingly impossible to control like disease and nature. One of the most significant in recent years is the borer insect. No doubt you’ve heard of these being a nationwide problem with many aging trees. It’s an insect that burrows in unhealthy trees, lays eggs in the trunk, and ultimately kills the tree in the process.
Other common pests afflicting Santa Barbara trees include:
Mites, an insect favoring overly warm climates like Southern California
A few other things can affect Santa Barbara trees. These include the following:
Another typical problem here, usually caused by bacterial or fungal infestations. These discolor trees, turning many of the leaves yellow or brown.
Taking care of this problem requires our professional tree care specialists for a proper diagnosis. Far too many people let tree blight continue, usually leading to more costly tree removal.
Everyone who lives in Southern California knows the weather can always fluctuate between seasons. From intense rainstorms to long, hot summers, anything can happen to affect trees. We’ll explore more details later on how weather affects trees in Santa Barbara.
One of the biggest disruptors of trees is construction crews damaging tree roots. Many construction companies don’t realize digging up nearby ground only 20 feet away from a big tree can harm its root system. When roots are disturbed, it ultimately leads to slow tree death.
Does the City of Santa Barbara Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
Removing a tree in Santa Barbara is not taken lightly and takes months of consideration. It only happens when a tree is undeniably dying in a public or residential area. When the tree is finally removed, it could take a full day, depending on the tree size.
The City of Santa Barbara is responsible for removing these dead trees when on city property. To request the city to remove a dead tree in these public areas, you need to email or snail mail an application to the Forestry Division. Their review process could take up to 60 days.
The Street Tree Advisory Committee (STAC) are the ones who review the applications and make the final decisions on tree removal. Keep in mind all private tree removal requests mean private citizens are responsible for paying the tree removal bill.
Remember, removal of a tree by the city can only happen if the tree is located in a parkway (the area between your curb and the sidewalk). You’re also going to need a permit to get that tree removed if it’s near your home.
After the dead tree is removed, it leaves the stump in place to be taken care of separately. We are available to take care of stump removal if on your own property. Otherwise, it might take a little time before the city removes it due to figuring out how it affects underground utilities.
Who is Responsible For a Fallen Tree Removal in Santa Barbara?
The circumstances behind a fallen tree are occasionally complex in those truly responsible for removal. If you’re a homeowner, you’ll likely have different responsibilities if the tree isn’t on one of Santa Barbara’s parkways.
When you’re a renter or landlord, other responsibilities may apply. A tree from a neighbor’s yard also brings potential complications, perhaps of the legal variety.
If you’re a homeowner?
Any tree falling on your property is going to become your responsibility in Santa Barbara, even if property lines might pose confusion. Like many cities, Santa Barbara plants trees near residential areas. Some of these might be very old or specimen trees, trees approved as part of a landscape plan, or trees belonging to the Historic Landmarks Commission.
If a tree falls on your property and causes damage, it’s entirely your responsibility to clean up. Turn to your homeowners’ insurance policy if you have one. They’ll pay for damages caused by your fallen tree. They also usually hire a tree service to clean up debris.
If you’re a renter?
Those of you who rent may not be responsible for a fallen tree, as long as your landlord explicitly states so in your leasing contract. Landlords are the ones generally responsible for any damages.
Any exception would be if you planted the tree that fell. Your landlord may stipulate if you plant the tree, you’re responsible if it falls over. Take time to read your lease contract to make sure your landlord is really the one who cleans up the mess.
If you’re a landlord?
Again, it depends on the rental contract you give to your tenants. Preventive maintenance is usually automatic in rental agreements, though not always.
Maintaining trees with regular pruning is important to make sure trees don’t become a hazard to your tenants or others. A lease addendum stipulating your tenants are responsible for yard upkeep might be your preference.
If you’re a neighbor?
The City of Santa Barbara stays clear of any disputes about fallen trees between neighbors on private property. They let the private parties deal with this on their own, even though one resource is available to help the process along.
View Protection Ordinance (MC Section 22.76) is the private resolution process the city provides for neighbors regarding problematic trees. Started in 2002, it’s become a popular way to deal with such matters. It’s really designed to deal with trees possibly obscuring scenic views.
In general, if your tree falls on a neighbor’s property, you’d be responsible to clean it up. If the tree was diseased, particularly, it might mean legal repercussions if the tree damaged your neighbor’s home.
How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Santa Barbara?
Soil is very much responsible for how trees are affected here. Based on Santa Barbara’s soil survey, the city has mainly sandy soil due to being near the ocean. Soil like this is very prone to erosion, though can hold water during rainy seasons. The problem is it can also dry out tremendously during Santa Barbara’s hot summers, requiring more watering of local trees.
When you move inland, you’ll find more sandy loam types of soils. These have more clay involved, bringing the possibility of expansion and shrinkage. Combining sand, silt, and clay ultimately makes for quality soil that helps trees grow.
Other areas of Santa Barbara have Monterey Shale, known to not be so good for growing trees due to the chalk. If you live in an area with this type of soil, you’ll have to replace it with more clay to make tree growth more successful.
Clay soils become almost like goo when they become too wet, hence potentially falling diseased trees. It’s all the more reason to be on the lookout when flash floods suddenly permeate this region of Southern California. You could lose some of your most valuable trees in similar soil scenarios.
Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Santa Barbara?
Weather is definitely a problem sometimes in Santa Barbara and the surrounding area. You name it, and it’s happened in the region, other than major snow or ice storms.
From earthquakes to wildfires, many weather events here wipe out trees in mere hours. Even windstorms make weak trees sitting ducks. All it takes is just a 60 mph wind blast to knock over an old tree overnight. As you already saw, floods uproot trees and knock them over in an instant.
At the moment, the biggest threat to local Santa Barbara trees is wildfires and earthquakes. Those two natural events are some of the most concerning to arborists who want to protect older trees in the area.
A wildfire alone could ravage the city during any future summer, leading to profound tree loss. Of course, there isn’t much one can do about natural disasters at this level. All one can do is try to protect and care for this beautiful city’s trees as much as humanly possible.
What if Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Santa Barbara?
Windstorms always have a direct effect on how Santa Barbara trees topple over on power lines. The wind isn’t always a factor, however, as you already saw.
What happens if a tree goes over on power lines near your home? First, never clean up tree debris over power lines on your own. Your potential for getting electrocuted is high, especially if you have little experience cleaning up a fallen tree.
Trees going over on power lines are usually the responsibility of the power company. This is more likely if the tree is on the city’s property. Plus, your power company could bill you if you have a diseased tree falling over on their lines.
Either way, it’s best to let professionals handle this, no matter if the power went out due to the tree going over.
How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Santa Barbara?
What you pay to have a tree removed in Santa Barbara always varies depending on the situation, but the total generally falls between $330 and $1,700 based on the factors below.
Types of Weather Events
Santa Barbara’s potential to get nasty weather during floods can lead to messy work when trees fall. After a storm, tree removal turns into an arduous job. Chances are good that the work could prolong for several days if required, waiting until the wild weather calms. If this happens, costs usually go up for labor time.
Size of the Tree
Older trees in Santa Barbara can become complex to remove based on their trunk size and the amount of foliage. When adding in stump removal, expect to pay up to $100 more.
Overly thick stumps take a full day to remove off any property. Trees over a century old or more are good examples.