Olive Trees Get Historic Protection

Last September the city of San Diego Park and Recreation Department was in Scripps Ranch removing brush and non-native trees in city-owned property within 100 feet of homes. That’s when crews discovered that olive trees in Derenbaker Grove would be removed. Derenbaker Grove is a natural open space on the west side of Aviary Drive, south of Scripps Ranch Boulevard. There are 17 olive trees and stumps there, which residents thought might have historical significance.

Scripps Ranch resident Will Lofft brought the issue to the attention of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association (SRCA) and Scripps Ranch Planning Group (SRPG). Will also showed us there were olive trees in the open space south of Atrium Drive and west of Aviary Drive.

The SRCA took the lead and stopped the removal of the trees until an application was submitted to the city’s Community Forest Advisory Board (CFAB) for historic protection. Tiffany Vinson, Councilmember Mark Kersey’s Scripps Ranch representative, worked with us.

The SRCA asked for assistance from the former Scripps Ranch Maintenance Assessment District’s (SRMAD) tree contractor, One Tripp Tree Service. Owner Steve Hooker, an international certified arborist, and arborist Dave Ephron quickly agreed to help. Together with Mike Baksh, owner of Tierra Environmental Services, they used specialized equipment to initially locate 47 olive trees in both areas.

Two applications were then submitted to the CFAB to protect the trees as either historic or as preservation groves. The Park and Recreation Department then began its investigation into our submittal and asked the SRPG’s Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) to hire an independent arborist—Kurt Peacock—to complete a comprehensive evaluation. Kurt found 14 more olive trees, all in the area south of Atrium and west of Aviary.

The olive trees come in all shapes, sizes, and single versus multi-trunk formations. Even some of the tree stumps believed dead have new branches. From the city, we worked with Andy Field, Casey Smith, and Eileen Rodriguez.

The two locations in which the olive trees were found are historically significant to Scripps Ranch. They are both undisturbed property located immediately adjacent to the E.W. Scripps mansion. Homes in Scripps Ranch were constructed around these two open space areas. Aerial photos of Derenbaker Grove show a dirt road that is still there today, with the olive trees on both sides of the road. In doing due diligence, the SRCA and Will Lofft found two books with references to olive trees in Scripps Ranch.

It is our belief that the 61 olive trees were specifically planted for E.W. Scripps at the advice of none other than Kate Sessions—San Diego’s most renowned horticulturist/landscape architect. (Source: The Newspaper Barons by Patricia Shaelchlin, p. 123, footnote 9 referencing 1891 memo of landscape care by Kate Sessions.) Interesting note: Kate Sessions later recommended Scripps hire Chauncy Jerabek as head gardener. (Source: E.W. Scripps biography by Charles Preece, p. 68).

The trees survived without intervention or watering. They were planted at about 16’ intervals, consistent with a procedure E.W. Scripps had his employees follow.

It is also consistent with plantings along other dirt roads throughout the main grounds, including another existing row of olive trees along the old dirt road to the west of Aviary Drive. The city has no record of either the residential developer or SRMAD planting olive trees. These trees are non-native and the only logical explanation of their existence is that they were planted by the Scripps family between 1895 and 1960.

The city’s expert said that olive trees do not have rings like evergreen trees so determining the age of an olive tree is not necessarily objective, absent DNA comparison of ancient trees and their descendents. In most cases, there is new growth of branches from very old tree roots.

To refute that the trees were younger than we believe, if you have a 20-year-old car and put new tires on it, is the car new? No, obviously it’s a 20-year-old car with new tires. The same is true about some of the olive trees. For trees to be historic, they need to be more than 50 years old and connected to someone or someplace historic. For trees to be part of a preservation grove, the trees need to be within a specific area in proximity and all the same species of tree. We thought we would get one designation or the other.

The CFAB heard the community’s request, led by Scripps Ranch resident and CFAB board member Craig Jones. The CFAB granted both the historic designation and the preservation tree grove designation! This means that the trees will be monitored and protected from removal.

The SRMAD, not the city’s general fund, will be responsible for any incurred costs. SRMAD chair, Marc Sorensen, agreed that there could be funding to do minor protection work as outlined by the city’s tree expert. The Scripps Ranch Environmental Fund also pledged $11,000 to protect the olive trees. You can find a map of the olive trees on the SRCA website at [www.scrippsranch.org]. Please feel free to walk through the olive tree groves and enjoy the fruit of many hours of dedicated volunteer work to get the historic tree designation. Special thanks to everyone mentioned in this article for their assistance!

Bob Ilko, SRCA President

[Editor’s note: On the cover are some of the folks who helped with the process, L to R: Steve Hooker; Suzie Lofft; Councilmember Mark Kersey; Tiffany Vinson; Wally Wulfeck, SRPG chair (back); Will Lofft; Mike Baksh, Tierra Environmental Services; and, Dave Ephron.]

Fight Crime

Scripps Ranch will participate in its 3rd Annual National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 6, beginning at dusk. Turn on your porch lights and turn out on your street to meet and mingle. Bring snacks and drinks and enjoy the camaraderie of your friends and neighbors while taking a stand against crime. Block parties registering their event will have the opportunity for a visit from local police, fire, or elected officials who support this event. Register your block party at [www/scrippsranch.org/watch]. Click on the National Night Out logo.

Block Captain Thank You Party: We held our first ever party in late June to thank all of our block captain volunteers. We had speakers from the San Diego Police Department, Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol, and the Community Emergency Response Team. We also had time to socialize with refreshments provided by the SRCA. It was nice to meet so many of our block captains and to put faces with the names we always see.

Hot Prowls: We’ve had “hot prowls” lately, which are burglaries when a subject enters, or tries to enter, your home while someone is there. A hot prowl burglary is dangerous because of the possible confrontation between the subject and victim.

If someone is knocking or ringing your doorbell, don’t ignore it or it will appear that no one is home. Don’t open your door but simply call out to the person on the other side letting him or her know you don’t open your door to solicitors. If you also yell something like, “Joe, I’ll get the door,” it will give the impression you are not alone. This will help reduce your chances of being a hot prowl victim.

For emergencies, dial 911. For non-emergencies and to report suspicious behavior, dial 484-3154. To register for SRCANW and get crime alert emails, visit [www/scrippsranch.org/watch]. For questions, email [[email protected]].

Cheryl Shaw, SRCANW Chair

SR Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

June Community Exercise: The Scripps Ranch Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) held a community exercise in June in the Legacy neighborhood. Our team successfully rescued a number of residents—on paper, at least. Many thanks to Dan Thompson and his neighbors for letting us use their properties and street. We expect to hold another exercise in November. We haven’t selected the site yet, so if you’d like us to “save” you and your neighbors, drop a line to Jim Treglio at [[email protected]].

New Team Leader: At our usual meeting on the third Tuesday of the month, the Scripps Ranch CERT selected a new leader, George Rivas. George has been with CERT for a number of years, including a stint with the Scripps Ranch team. We’re delighted to have him back, so much so that we just had to put him in charge!

September Meeting: Scripps Ranch CERT does not meet in July and August, so our next meeting is in September. It’s on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 pm in the Scripps Ranch Library. Stop by!

Ride With Us

Discover the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) through a ride-along. Spend a day or part of a day with the volunteers who drive around our neighborhoods. You’ll check banks, shopping centers, schools, homeland security, parks, vacation homes, and maybe an elderly person on the You Are Not Alone (YANA) list. RSVP serves our community almost every day.

Many of the volunteers also work at Balboa Park in the Ambassador Program. They ride in a golf cart instead of a car. There are many ways to help our neighborhoods, so please consider RSVP.

Joining RSVP is easy: have a valid California Driver’s license; be 50 years or older; retired or semi-retired; go through a background check; spend one week at an academy learning what to do and what not to do; and, donate 3½ days a month. Your volunteer hours will be appreciated by your neighbors and the police department.

Please contact John Joyce at [[email protected]] or 538-8156. Stop by the storefront in Mira Mesa at 8450-A Mira Mesa Boulevard—by the senior center and across the street from Mira Mesa High School—and chat with our volunteers.

Enjoy a Show While Helping Children!

Theater for Charity invites you to join us for our fifth annual original production, Me & You, on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 3:30 pm in the Marshall Middle School theater. This musical mystery of love and revenge features a cast of 19 caring and gifted performers who give their time and talent to help kids with life-threatening illnesses.

Written and directed by Scripps Ranch High School junior Meghanne Clark, Me & You will have a live band and original choreography provided by generous high school students. Admission is free, with donations greatly appreciated to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation—100% of your gift goes directly to the charity. We thank our previous donors who made last year’s show, The Spindle, a glowing success, raising more than $4,400!

Free Dive Workshop to Help Scout Earn Gold Award

Do you want to try the sport of dive? This free workshop is the perfect way to see if dive is the sport for you! My name is Julia Weinstein and I am a senior girl scout working toward my Gold Award. I want to raise awareness about the sport of dive with a free intro to dive session.

  • Date: Tuesday, Aug. 13
  • Time: 4:30–7 pm
  • Location: Scripps Ranch Swim and Racquet Club, 9875 Aviary Drive

This is a Girl Scout Gold Award project. The entrance fee is two to three cans of food. One-hundred percent of the cans collected will be donated to the San Diego Food Bank. For more information, questions, and to sign up, please visit [www.diveintosomethingnew.webs.com].

Enjoying the 4th of July Celebration

I look forward each year to the July 4th celebration in Scripps Ranch. It is impressive to see the Scripps Ranch Civic Association and the community come together and organize all the activities and events that take place on this very special day.

I love helping the Old Pros organization by participating in the awards ceremony and handing out medals to participants who took part in the early morning Bike Ride and the 10K Fun Run. I especially enjoy riding in the parade and seeing all of you. Congratulations to Scripps Ranch on a successful 43rd July 4th Parade, and I look forward to seeing everyone next year.

State Assemblyman Brian Maienschein

Rocking Hoyt Park

Don’t miss our next concert on Sunday, Aug. 11, at Hoyt Park featuring Pete Johnson and Jus’ Blues, Baby. The Symphony in the Park season is in full swing, and the concerts have been great fun. So far this year we have heard from The Ultimate Stones and Detroit Underground, who have rocked the park with their energy and great music. The park has been packed with families and friends. It’s great to see many new and returning faces.

For those of you new to the area, we are a not-for-profit organization bringing live music to the community and giving back to Scripps Ranch schools through donations to their music programs. Held outdoors in Scripps Ranch’s Hoyt Park, this is a great venue to get together with family and friends and enjoy the atmosphere. Spread the word and bring new friends.

Perhaps consider donating—if you haven’t already!—as these concerts rely on your contributions every year. We have PayPal set up on our website at [www.symphonyinthepark.org] to make it convenient to donate. While on our website, check out details about our group.

On Sunday, Aug. 11, Pete Johnson and Jus’ Blues, Baby will play and generously act as the major host for this month’s Symphony in the Park concert. This six-piece band performs a wide variety of styles from down-home back-porch Delta Blues to rocking electric Chicago Blues.

Again this month Chile Peppers Mexican Eatery will support Symphony in the Park with a fundraiser on Sunday, Aug. 11, and Monday, Aug. 12. Visit our website or Facebook page to download a flier and they will donate 20% of your order.

All concerts are on Sundays at Hoyt Park at 6 pm, except the holiday concert starts at 5 pm.

  • Aug. 11—Pete Johnson and Jus’ Blues, Baby
  • Sept. 8—Sirens Crush, variety of current hits
  • Oct. 6—BETAMAXX, ’80s
  • Dec. 1—Holiday concert

Thanks to everyone who brought their low-back chairs, blankets—tarps ruin the grass—and those who left their dogs at home. We look forward to seeing you at the August concert. Thanks.

Kate Northcote

Relay For Life Thanks the Scripps Ranch Community

Relay For Life is a 24-hour team event that fights cancer by uniting communities like ours to raise awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society. The second annual Relay For Life of Scripps Ranch was held the last weekend of June at the Scripps Ranch Community Park. Special thanks goes out to the Scripps Ranch Civic Association, SR Recreation Council, and businesses and residents for their support and participation.

More than 200 people formed teams and took turns walking, or “relaying,” 24 hours, from 9 am Saturday to 9 am Sunday, around the “track.” Some even pitched tents and slept overnight.

The event began with an Opening Ceremony to celebrate our survivors, included a luminaria ceremony at dusk to remember our lost loved ones, and concluded with a Closing Ceremony in which relayers made personal action pledges to fight back against cancer. Throughout the day, activities included a boot camp, Zumba, yoga, pilates, and tai chi, as well as singers and bands, all of which represented Scripps Ranch businesses and residents.

This 24-hour event was filled with laughter, hugs, and tears, and represented the culmination of nearly a year of planning and fundraising by our volunteers.

We are already working on the 2014 Relay For Life of Scripps Ranch! For more information on Relay For Life and opportunities to form a team, provide sponsorship, or join the 2014 Planning Committee, please contact event chair, Prima Bernabe, at [[email protected]]. For more information, visit [www.RelayForLife.org/ScrippsRanchCA].

Adopting a Special Corner

At the recent SRCA Community Fair’s Green Street and Sustainable Scripps Ranch area, resident Sarah Schneewind volunteered to work in the California Native Plant Society booth. Sarah talked about an effort to improve a corner in Scripps Ranch called the “Canyonito.” It’s city property at the intersection of Appaloosa Road and Atrium Drive. Sarah, her son, and another boy pull weeds to encourage the native plants that are starting to fill the area. She picks up trash and keeps an eye out for this small bit of land.

There is a slightly sloping swath of uncultivated open space, with many of the mature trees that Scripps Ranch is known for. As a back story, just behind Sarah in the picture below, are some California native plants that are managing to flourish despite the well-known allelopathic effect of eucalyptus: the leaf litter and roots will kill off competing plants that try to grow in the eucalyptus “territory.”

So as the stands of California buckwheat expand, small efforts are creating a successful open space plant community. By cleaning up the trash and weedy grasses and by following the suggestion of SRCA president Bob Ilko to mark new seedlings with rock circles to help prevent them from getting trampled, Sarah has kick-started a natural process known as habitat restoration.

There are the beginnings of Baccharis sarothroides—an early colonizer that looks like thin wisps of bright green. One California poppy shows up—each year in a different place. Also, a few pine seedlings—possibly seed dropped by birds?—have taken. They are non-native, but in Scripps Ranch we treasure our trees. Who knows what will show up next? We think there may be some California Morning Glory and Datura in the future. Then native sages and manzanitas will fit right in.

Sarah talked with a city of San Diego Park and Recreation Department official who said no tools may be used in the cleanup and cultivation process, but they appreciate residents who volunteer to remove weeds and trash. The official arranged to have pillars put up that now block vehicle access to the Canyonito. Park and Recreation crews mow and mulch the area, but could do so more often.

Please look at this corner as a nice place, not a dumping ground. Simple steps to improve it will bring great rewards:

  • More native birds, butterflies, and bees—native bees are almost all non-stinging—will increase habitat.
  • Cleaning up areas like this shows this is a community that cares.
  • Beauty and charm and restful surroundings improve property values and bring a sense of connection to nature and our neighbors.
  • Walking in the park, while pulling a weed, is a great way to stay fit.

It would be wonderful to see residents adopt this corner—and maybe others! It’s easy: clean up after your dog and pick up trash. In the spring remove the mustard plants, the thistly weeds, and the purple-flowering crane’s beak weed, a very invasive weed. Protect the buckwheat and other natives inside the stone circles—or they may be outgrowing their stone circles!

Please walk through this area next time you are nearby. Then join the effort to keep this little gem going.

Susan Krzywicki