Neighbors in Mission Viejo’s Aegean Heights weren’t too involved when Southern California Edison went door-to-door earlier this month, letting them know they might reduce bushes alongside energy strains at proximity – “mild pruning”, as one resident recalled.
However after listening to the chainsaws, many got here out and had been surprised to see greater than two dozen bushes stripped of all branches and leaves, some reduce nicely beneath energy strains and others 30 ft or extra from these. strains.
“The 100-foot-tall bushes are decreased to five-foot stumps,” resident Beth Berman mentioned on Feb. 17, the week the work was performed.
Her husband, Dan Berman, mentioned the bushes – principally eucalyptus – supplied welcome shade for his or her condos, noise dampening for the railroad within the ravine beneath, and visible magnificence for the neighborhood.
“They’re completely attractive,” he says.
Along with complaints from neighbors, the contractor – Utility Tree Service – heard from town’s director of upkeep operations, Jerry Hill.
“He inspired them to work extra with the residents and never surrender on the whole lot,” mentioned Mark Chagnon, director of public works at Mission Viejo. “We simply need them to go away first rate issues for residents. Nobody desires to look right into a hacking job. “
Edison didn’t admit the wrongdoing.
“The well being and well-being of every tree was taken significantly because the branches had been pruned to maintain them a protected distance from energy strains,” mentioned Edison spokesperson Reggie Kumar. “We’re wanting on the distance of the limbs and branches, not the trunks.”
When requested if the corporate agreed with residents that the work was too aggressive, Kumar differed.
“That is what I can inform you proper now,” he mentioned.
Nevertheless, Kumar famous, “Representatives from the city of Mission Viejo had been available to observe the works.”
Chagnon took subject with this characterization, saying town had no jurisdiction over non-public property below development and that metropolis worker Hill merely inspired tree surgeons to coordinate higher with residents.
“We definitely weren’t monitoring the work,” Chagnon mentioned.
In excessive danger fireplace areas, the California Public Utilities Fee recommends clearing of vegetation from 12 ft to 30 ft, relying on line stress. The earlier vary of 6.5 to twenty ft was elevated in 2018 in an effort to cut back the variety of wildfires began by energy strains.
Nevertheless, Aegean Heights will not be a excessive danger space.
“In low fireplace danger areas, the SCE usually cuts at a regular distance of 6 ft or extra,” Kumar mentioned. “Nevertheless, the usual distance will be adjusted primarily based on security and reliability components, comparable to tree species, the necessity to take away overhanging branches and different website particular situations.”
This isn’t misplaced on Edison in terms of Beth Berman.
“They gave directions to return to their home and alert the neighbors of the ‘mild reduce’ which was not the reality,” she mentioned. “If the tough fact had been shared, we might have had these conversations earlier than the bushes had been misplaced.”
After complaints to the work workforce, the employees took a extra lenient method, mentioned Dan Berman.
Strolling alongside energy strains for a mile from La Paz Highway to Bart Spendlove Memorial Park, essentially the most aggressive tree reduce appears to cease on the Bermans rental complicated, with a lighter waistline to the north – job performed after complaints. From there, few or no bushes had been reduce beneath the peak of the ability strains.
“Once we talked to the blokes who had been doing it, they had been empathetic,” Dan Berman mentioned. “They mentioned they had been initially going to chop them beneath the road stage. The supervisor got here to our home afterwards and apologized.
Birds and nests
The now naked bushes clustered close to energy strains are surrounded by many wholesome, untouched bushes in and alongside the ravine, which ends up in Bart Spendlove Memorial Park on the north finish of the Aegean Heights neighborhood. The park, which borders the ravine, is among the locations highlighted as having significantly good chook watching in ocbirds.com.
Edison’s contractors had been accompanied by a biologist, whose job it was to maintain a watch out for this wildlife.
“There was a red-shouldered hawk constructing a nest close to this location, which was recognized by our biologist there,” Kumar mentioned. “In accordance with our environmental protocols, the biologist stopped the work and a buffer was created across the nest, and the crew moved to a different location.
However not like his dialog with the tree surgeons, Dan Berman’s interplay with the biologist left a foul style of their mouths.
“I spoke to the biologist and talked about a red-tailed hawk that I had seen,” Berman mentioned. “He mentioned he hadn’t seen it and questioned if I might establish them.”