Three city-owned trees near the turnaround on the far eastern point of Olive Drive were illegally cut down over the spring, prompting the city to drop a hefty fine on the property management company that ordered the removals.
The city fined Select Commercial Brokers, the company responsible for the work, $12,000 for chopping down two Chinese hackberries — one completely and one partially — and one coast live oak.
The city estimated the trees were worth about $40,000.
The fine covers the cost of planting 98 new trees to replace the total inches of diameter of the three removed trees.
Select Commercial Brokers manages Hertz car rental, 1800 Olive Drive, the parcel adjacent to the city’s land where the trees were cut down.
According to Rob Cain, the city’s urban forest manager who developed the fine, the company wanted the trees — which all were in good health — removed to create better visibility for the property.
Jim Kidd, who owns Select Commercial Brokers, declined to comment on why the trees were removed.
Last week, Kidd appealed the fine to the city’s Tree Commission, but the commission unanimously upheld the penalty. Kidd, who did not attend the meeting, wrote in his appeal letter that he only had one tree cut down and another trimmed.
“The appellant didn’t show up, so that left us with — the proceedings were kind of one-sided,” said tree commissioner David Robinson. “But the facts that were presented to us by Rob Cain were quite straightforward.”
When members of the city’s Urban Forest Division called Kidd in April after they discovered a crew cutting down the trees, Kidd reportedly said he had received permission from the city for the tree removals.
But city officials determined that a tree removal permit had not been obtained, prompting the citation and fine.
Kidd has since applied for a permit, but he still must pay the fine unless he wins an appeal to the City Council. In the meantime, Kidd has asked for a meeting with City Manager Steve Pinkerton to discuss the situation.
In addition to serving on the city’s Tree Commission, Robinson is president of Tree Davis, a volunteer organization that advocates for planting and caring for trees.
“Tree Davis is about preserving healthy trees and increasing the urban forest canopy,” Robinson said. “We are firmly opposed to freelance cutting down, especially of other people’s trees; that is a huge no-no.”
— Reach Tom Sakash at email@example.com or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash