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Decaying trees were reported but ignored before recent parade of strong winds

CBS 8 is Working for You to learn more about the previously ignored reports of decaying trees that toppled during this week's wind event.

SAN DIEGO — Some downed trees in Balboa Park and across San Diego County had been reported before yesterday's high winds.

Some people said the agencies they reported these trees to ignored their worries, which they believe could have prevented the damage.

“My tree album has about 250 photos of trees and tree limbs of large size that have fallen in the past three years,” said David Peery.

Peery walks around Balboa Park often and has reported hundreds of trees, including a pine tree that fell near the Marston house on Thursday.

“I took this photo at 8:45 a.m. yesterday and said it was about to fall,” said Peery.

He documented a Get It Done report on the same pine tree ten days ago that says the case is closed without explanation.

“With trees and most reports through Get It Done, you don't receive anything but a standard response from their database, and it's anyone's guess unless what that means,” said Peery.

He says the same thing happened with a palm that, fortunately, is still standing next to the massive eucalyptus that came crashing down on Prado Avenue, injuring a woman.

He worries about the next wind event.

“Here we are year after year with a decaying situation, not a growing situation,” said Peery.

This isn't just a city issue. 

On Thursday, an 80-foot eucalyptus on San Pasqual Valley Road in Escondido fell onto Kim Billman's driveway.

“The thing is, we've been dreading it the last three years. We knew it would happen and reported it, but it never got taken down,” said Billman.

The tree is on Caltrans property; we reached out to the state agency for an answer:

The San Diego and Imperial County region has experienced some extreme weather events since the start of the new year, from record rains as the result of an atmospheric river to the Santa Ana event on Thursday. The high wind event we experienced impacted all of District 11, including the City and the County of San Diego. 

In November of 2022, our crews went out and inspected the tree in question as part of our annual tree inspection, and consistent with what the resident told us in suspecting it was a healthy tree, the tree was healthy. Caltrans has a policy against removing healthy trees, especially those in historic districts, requiring environmental evaluations and adhering to state regulations. A tree can only be removed if it shows signs of compromised health or structural damage or if it obstructs or impedes the safety of motorists or pedestrians. 

The public is encouraged to submit customer service requests via the Caltrans website.

Peery hopes the aftermath from Thursday’s Santa Ana's will put the city on alert.

“It only takes one branch to cause an accident, and that's one too many,” said Peery.

CBS 8 reached out to the City of San Diego starting at 9:45 a.m. on Friday. We went back and forth five times today via e-mail and text, and still no response from the city.

We’ll continue to work for you on this story to keep you updated.

At CBS 8, we are always Working for You and our San Diego community. If there is something you would like us to investigate, please share your idea here or email us at workingforyou@cbs8.com.

WATCH RELATED: Balboa Park in San Diego closed after high winds topple trees (Jan. 2023).



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