Recent fires in Santa Barbara still generate news and bring memories of our ‘93 fire. Given the history of eucalyptus trees (tall, yes; majestic, not sure) and their propensity to explode due to their oil content, the dry brush (kudos to our fire department’s efforts to remove it), the drought, etc. we were lucky not to have a repeat. After the ‘93 fire some insurance companies no longer insured our properties. Would more companies drop us now?
On April 22, 2017, at a City Hall meeting sponsored by a local non profit, presenters tried to educate us on the historical value of eucalyptus and how they can stop embers from landing on homes, thus minimizing fires. Ruben Flores, tree expert, also attended and supported the meeting (might be running for City Council and is a favorite of Village Laguna). Toni Iseman has backed this theory publicly. After the meeting I called several statewide fire authorities; some laughed at this notion, others got angry.
A letter written in the Jan. 19 issue of this paper used a website to malign utility poles and promote the idea that embers caused many fires. Yes, the utility poles should come down, but that would not help with fires up in the hillsides overlooking our beautiful ocean (sorry about some views blocked by trees) that are started by other means.
I maintain that anyone trying to push the idea of eucalyptus trees as safe – think 24/7 shedding leaves/bark, broken branches, toppling trees – should be included in any lawsuit for loss of property and life. I think keeping gutters free from eucalyptus debris makes more sense (cutting down the trees is still best).
The city is soliciting volunteers for many important committees in town. I encourage anyone with a clear sense of reality to volunteer; we need you.
Ganka Brown, Laguna Beach