ALTADENA, Calif. (FOX 11) - An Altadena homeowner said it felt like “an absolute punch in the gut” when he saw that an old neighborhood tree had been butchered.
Shawn Maestretti snapped photos he shared on social media of Southern California Edison workers in the midst of trimming trees to make clearance around power lines.
Maestretti, a certified arborist and climate change educator, said what the crews did made the situation more dangerous in the long-run.
“They shortened its life,” he said. “It’s at risk of eventually failing. It’s certainly not going look beautiful at now. It’s at more risk of catching fire.”
Maestretti and other neighbors believe the aggressive tree trimming is the utility’s knee-jerk reaction to recent wildfires.
Lawsuits allege SoCal Edison equipment sparked the Woolsey Fire.
Altadena resident Liz Culpepper said company crews showed up in her yard last week and went to work on her tree.
“We were never consulted,” she said. “No one ever came and spoke to us and according to their program they’re supposed to send a consultant to your door to educate you.”
The result was a botched job she said the supervisor admitted was done poorly.
“They basically amputated my tree and their solution was they offered to balance it out and I said, 'that would be like you cut off my right leg and now you and you want to amputate my left leg,'” she said.
According to SCE, the utility has identified more than 700 trees in the Altadena area that require trimming during annual maintenance.
By law, the company must maintain minimum clearance around power lines, but experts believe if crews continue to just top the trees, it will have long term effects on the environment.
“We were at 118 degrees here last summer and these trees are the only thing that kept us marginally comfortable,” LA County Arboretum Interpretive Horticulturist Leigh Adams said.
A statement from SCE reads in part, “SCE seeks to perform all work in accordance with tree pruning industry standards for tree care practices. Southern California Edison continues to work with the communities it serves to help mitigate against the increasing threat of wildfires.”