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Santa Barbara - South County

Illegal tree removal on Santa Barbara’s Riviera brings criminal charges

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - If there is one thing many people in Santa Barbara can agree on, it is a love for the trees in the community.

Eugenia Trees still standing on Paterna Rd. (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

One homeowner is finding out the hard way.

The City Attorney’s Office has filed a misdemeanor complaint against James Allen Carr and Enrique Calles Vasquez for their alleged role in a tree removal incident on the 1700 block of Paterna Rd. on the Riviera. The tree-lined street is less than a half mile from the historic Belmond El Encanto hotel.

Site of tree removal incident (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

Wednesday’s announcement came in the form of a press release.

City Park Rangers and staff from the City Attorney’s Office investigated the incident, which was first reported Monday by Noozhawk. The online article stated that four Eugenia trees were cut down on Saturday, allegedly without a City permit.

Longtime Paterna Rd. resident, Tiffany Dore, talked to NewsChannel 3 about the incident.

Eugenia Trees lining former Dore home (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

"Living on that street for over 20 years, those trees that lined the sidewalks and road created a very warm, nostalgic feeling. It's sad to see that look disappear. I have a book with a photo of our home (built in 1913) taken in 1924 with those trees. My late husband, Paul Dore, would have told the people off for cutting down those trees!"

Another neighbor, who did not want to be named, said the trees are historic and part of the Riviera milieu. The area is also known for its famous Frog Wall, beloved by kids of all ages as well as local joggers and dog walkers.

Paterna Rd. Frog Wall (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

The filed complaint alleges four criminal counts. The defendants are charged with three counts of violating Santa Barbara Municipal Code section 15.20.115, Unlawful Tree Removal at Parkway, and one count of violating Santa Barbara Municipal Code section 15.24.020, Unlawful Tree Removal at Setback.  

The maximum sentence for each count is six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. One Paterna Rd. homeowner called the fine "miniscule."

“I believe this is an appropriate response from the City,” said Mayor Cathy Murillo. “All Santa Barbarans suffer when our urban forest is damaged. I would urge anyone with concerns about street trees or trees in their front yard to contact the City’s urban forestry staff before doing any cutting or pruning.”

City Attorney Ariel Calonne separately announced that he will seek City Council authority to bring a civil action to recover damages for trespass.

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here

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