Leucadia’s Eucalyptus Trees Threaten Trains?

Encinitas resident Russell Levan spoke during the public comment of the February 23 city council meeting, voicing his concern for the cutting of eucalyptus trees along the railroad corridor in Leucadia.

“Where does it become City of Encinitas property versus the railroad right of way?” asked Levan. He claimed that ten trees were being cut on Tuesday by the North County Transit District and asked city officials to clarify which trees in the area are within city property and which are under the stewardship of the NCTD. According to Levan, no notices about the tree-cutting were released and the “notification process failed.”

Deputy mayor Jerome Stocks addressed Levan’s concern by saying that the City is fully aware of the right-of-way issue but acknowledged the cutting of trees this week was a mistake.

“There was indeed a communication error,” said Stocks, who cited staffing changes at the North County Transit District as the reason for the unannounced cutting of trees. Stocks said that the NCTD’s executive director ordered the cutting to be stopped immediately after a phone call and that he “chastised” staff for not following written protocol with the City and for failing to notify certain interest groups.

“We have to remember that the transit district’s concern is about safety,” said Stocks. “If one of those very large eucalyptus trees falls down across those tracks…as much as we love the trees, we can’t have the trees threatening the trains.”

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Dueling bureaucracies? The City of Encinitas and NCTD cannot communicate? Gimme a break! This has all the hallmarks of a conspiracy, wherein the NCTD would "erroneously" cut the trees without permission and would then express "regret" for the damage. But, haha, the trees would be gone for good. An alert citizen saw it happening, and when he/she placed the onus on city hall, they abandoned the subterfuge and blamed NCTD. You see, the city council and administration of Encinitas don't want to take the heat for cutting any more trees in Leucadia. The tree lined corridor between the tracks and Highway 101--a local trademark-- is mostly gone now, the trees having been removed because they were (supposedly) diseased, dying, or dead. Eucalyptus trees can be thinned and shaped in a way that keeps their beauty and makes them much less likely to topple. That's what NCTD and the city should do. Will they do it? Don't bet the farm on it.

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