Santa Monica residents on 5th Street woke up Monday to the worst case of tree vandalism that the City’s Urban Forester Matthew Wells has ever seen. Seven young trees had been snapped in half between Ocean Park Boulevard and Hollister Avenue.
It was also found that several cacti belonging to a resident on Ocean Park Boulevard, around the corner from the incident, were severely damaged; a large cactus plant was toppled over, and several others had limbs broken off.
Wells said that his department is baffled as to why someone would do this.
“It takes considerable effort to snap a tree that’s this far along, which means the person in question did this with malice,” Wells said of the young trees. “And to snap seven of them, and harm a homeowner’s cactus, is deplorable anti-social behavior. It is the worst case of tree vandalism I have ever seen in my career.” Wells has worked in urban forests for over 25 years.
Planting and cultivating trees in residential areas costs about $500 a tree according to the Urban Forest department, which means that the recent attack cost over $3,500 in damages, plus replacement costs of $3,500, which isn’t including the cacti.
The point of the trees on 5th Street was to provide much needed shade to the nearby John Muir Elementary School, “And now we have to start over,” Wells added.
Residents are advised to keep watch in their neighborhood for the possibility of someone committing a crime such as this, and to call Santa Monica’s non-emergency dispatch if they notice anything suspicious on 310.458 8491. Santa Monica’s public landscape department can also be reached at 310.458.8974.