Tuesday, April 26, 2022

San Diego, California: Palm trees removed, City and Federal Aviation Administration says it's a flight path threat

SAN DIEGO, California (KGTV) — "You are doing this! You are doing this!"

Monday morning, screaming Ocean Beach residents gave one final plea as they saw there beloved palm trees on Newport Avenue get taken down.

"It was shocking because they weren't the tallest trees, they are five that weren't diseased," said Tim Johnson, a resident on Newport Avenue.

The City of San Diego says they removed five palm trees because they were told by the Airport Authority and FAA the tall palms were in urgent threat to flight path and aviation operations.

However, residents like Johnson aren't buying it, "Well, can you imagine a 727 or a 747 was hovering above this palm tree up here right here? They are not even close."

Tim Johnson has lived on the Ocean Beach street for 40 years. Johnson says he has never seen a plane fly over the palm trees, so he's just stumped as to why they had to be removed.

"They are all that way, they are all North of Newport Avenue," jokingly Johnson says. "I have this theory that maybe these five palm trees were maybe some weird traingulation device that somehow effects the airport…I mean that's about as logical of an explanation as I can come up with because there's no other one."

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA) provided one. They confirmed that in October, the FAA believed the five palm trees were an "adverse effect upon the navigable airspace at the Airport".

The City of San Diego even provided data of the evaluations done by the FAA and SDCRAA that showcased the palm trees they are monitoring in the area.

The orange highlights on page one, shows the trees they removed. All of the other trees are palm trees approaching heights that may be deemed a risk and may need to be removed in the future.

But the graph does not explain what exactly qualifies a tree for removal.

A City Spokesperson told ABC 10News that they did not know what the qualifications were for removal, but were following directives mandated by the FAA to remove the trees. The SDCRAA says the five trees needed to be removed because of their height.

They furthered telling ABC10News that the "On page 1 of the PDF, the column "FAA Surface Intersection Elevation (MSL)" outlines 270 (feet) and 276.48 (feet) which is the numbers in feet the trees cannot penetrate."

However if you look at the graph, you can see that there are other trees that exceed that height, and are higher than the ones removed. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority says they are monitoring other palm trees in the area, that may be removed at a later date.

"We are waiting for them to sneak back in here, put the signs back in here and put the signs back up," said Tracy Van De Walker.

Tracy, a resident of 15 years on Newport Avenue, has now lost the tree that has been up for over a century outside of her home. She says that she will be ready next time.

She is in the process of filing a restraining order, and there is a lawsuit that has been a year in the making, that will be heard in court this summer.

"We are not done fighting," shares Tracy. "And again there's a temporary restraining going in and I will probably next time fall under a tree and get arrested."


  1. I'm a San Diego resident. The concern is for air traffic using the ILS approach to Runway 9, which occurs during poor visibilty when the Localizer Runway 27 approach cannot be used and / or when winds favor Runway 9, which is not that often.

  2. I am a San Diego resident. The concern is for aircraft using the ILS Runway 9 (over the water) approach which normally occurs when visibility makes the Runway 27 Localizer approach not feasible and / or when winds favor the use of Runway 9 which is not very often.

  3. “How to win friends and influence your enemies”? No wonder some airports are having problems just staying open.

  4. If the general public, much less congress, had any idea of the absurdity that pilots and mechanics lived under due to the red tape filled FAA they would certainly do away or make some sweeping changes. On second thought they are aware of the TSA and we still have them...so maybe not

  5. "Johnson says he has never seen a plane fly over the palm trees, so he's just stumped as to why they had to be removed."

    lol.....I see what they did there!

  6. Tracy Van De Walker is going to take on the FAA over some tree's? That's a fools errand.