Trees `R Us

For the past 35 years, the eucalyptus tree has been the signature tree of Scripps Ranch, simply because it grew well in our arid climate and poor soil. Also it reseeded itself, so after the developers altered the terrain to build houses it would reseed and grow. It got a bad rap from some sources that complained about dropping leaves and also that it was a fire hazard. Frankly, there was no recorded eucalyptus tree flaming into a fire during our horrible firestorm.

The trees, however, do drop leaves, the LERP kills the trees, and they are self-pruning–in other words when there is no rain, it drops off unwanted limbs. When it rains, the trees absorb water for the dry years and put out lots of greenery, even on the trunk. So we have a multifaceted nonnative tree with good and bad points. The bottom line is the trees grow well and stabilize our hillsides, and we have not planted one in 15 years.

I am concerned when residents clear cut all the trees. We now are faced with soil slides in several places. A word of caution when someone proposes you clear cut a hillside below your house, get a second opinion. Determine what can happen to your slope when we have unseasonable rain. Will your house slide down the hill or be threatened when you create a denuded hillside? The trees are yours to do as you decide, as they are your property. But remember, trees produce oxygen in our polluted world, and they look good and we like the look.

MAD Actions

We met with council staff and members of the Park and Recreation Department in March at City Hall to finalize a proposed Scripps Ranch Landscape Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) budget for the coming year. We have had unexpected expenses with the large number of trees that fell because of the torrential rains making the ground semi-liquid. This includes the tree that fell on Pomerado Road near Scripps Ranch Boulevard, hitting the car of a driver from Ramona, killing him.

We will have a modest increase in assessment based on the Consumer Price Index, but we still are not funding brush management to the extent hoped for in the absence of a citywide policy on it. For example, open space is city-owned property, and we have access to it for brush clearing only through single Right of Entry permits at the present time, not through MAD action.

I want to thank all the residents who called about downed and dangerous trees, and especially those sending me an email–which is better as I have a record of it for action–on trees that they feel are threatening and need to be inspected. We are concentrating on handling the most pressing safety issues first. So you still will see some trees that pose no problems await a dry slope to remove, such as those at Hoyt Park. For your information, we removed 126, then 160, then 44 more trees from "blow downs," with few damages reported.

We have completed the installation of a new swing set at Hoyt Park. We had to close down the park for one day to remove another tree that threatened it. All of this costs our MAD, but safe use of the park remains our top priority.

We have completed the PH application and the tilling for the replanted grass in Hoyt Park, and with a break in weather we will smooth and replant with grass this month. It will be nice for the 4th of July for sure.

Standing Water

With all the rain, we may have collected pockets of standing water in open spaces, canyons, drains, and other places. Please send me an email at [[email protected]] to let me know if we need to check your house. I am sure many of the storm drains need to be cleaned out. We will report standing water to the county and let the city know about the storm drains.

Aqueduct Relining Project

The relining of the aqueduct with steel liner is proceeding, but the heavy rains caused at least a month’s delay in its completion through Scripps Ranch. So we still have the construction material at Miramar Ranch Elementary School, on Scripps Lake Drive, Ironwood Road, and Red Cedar Drive. No problems; it’s just taking longer than planned.

Changes on Scripps Lake Drive

I hope you all noticed that the large power poles and all of the overhead power lines on Scripps Lake Drive and in our easement areas are gone. The crews removed them, and I am happy to say they saved the lines and poles for reuse. This was completed in early March, without incident or traffic blockage. Our collective thanks to SDG&E for their work and their continual attention to the needs and concerns of the community. Now we need to determine what to do about the vacated power line easement areas. Any ideas?

For the individuals who called and reported the fence at Miramar Ranch Elementary School along Scripps Lake Drive broken, we know it is. The Little League folks placed an orange fence there as a temporary safety measure. We need to determine who will repair it.

Annual Meeting of the SRCA

The Annual Meeting of the SRCA will be on Tuesday, Apr. 12, at 7 pm at the Scripps Ranch Library’s community room. This is an important meeting of your SRCA, and you are invited to attend and participate in the community actions. We will elect officers and representatives for the odd-numbered SRCA districts for the coming year.

If you would like to be a community leader, please come and make it known. Better yet, call me at 566-6083 and let me know your interest. For example, we need a vice president for operations for the SRCA. The only requirement is your personal interest and, of course, membership in the SRCA.

If you have not joined, now is the time, and we are trying to recruit as many residents as we can. With all the problems in the city, we need a strong voice in Scripps Ranch to support our councilmember, Brian Maienschein, as he works for us, and also Katherine Nakamura, our representative on the school board. We will have reports from all activities, as well as plans for the year. It will be an information-filled meeting.

4th of July Parade and Celebration

Bill Crooks and Jim Ball are our co-chairs of the 2005 4th of July Parade and Celebration. They already are working with our committee for a gala 35th anniversary celebration of a very patriotic holiday. This is still the finest community parade in Southern California, as we celebrate our freedom–and we love it.

Prepare a neighborhood float or walk in the parade with a group. It is great fun and a Scripps Ranch tradition, followed by a visit to Hoyt Park for ice cream. With the Old Pros Fun Run and Bike Ride, there is something for everyone. It’s all here at home on the Ranch, away from the traffic. Try it–you’ll like it!

Schools Actions

The work on our new middle school is progressing, and its grand opening is still scheduled for September 2006. The movement of Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School to the Marshall Middle School campus is now scheduled for September 2007. I’m sure you have read about the many school board actions to open and close charter schools, modify policies, and try to meet the daunting requirements of doing more with less.

I appeared before the school board in support of the joint plan we worked out with district staff to allow 24-26 students now in the graduating 6th grade class at Miramar Ranch Elementary School to attend Marshall Middle School. This would be instead of first enrolling for one year at Wangenheim Middle School and then transferring to the new Marshall. I also made the point that the parents of Scripps Ranch had stepped up and agreed to financially help the principals of all the schools meet their maintenance requirements and maintain the highest quality of educational opportunity for all our students.

Scripps Ranch High School’s interim principal, Bill Fox, appeared before the SRCA Schools Committee and reported on the incident involving the fights on the basketball court and actions he took.

Traffic and You

The best traffic controller is each of us driving safely. We, unfortunately, still have people speeding on our streets and by our schools, running stop signs, and creating hazardous situations. If this applies to you, please slow down.

Recently, I went by Miramar Ranch Elementary School where practices for T-ball and Little League were going on. Naturally, there were cars parked on both sides of the street with parents loading and unloading children. When I drove by, I stopped to allow a man to park his car. Although this was on a hill and with a double yellow line indicating no passing, an SUV roared past me, crossed the double yellow line, and swerved onto Scripps Lake Drive. Luckily, no one was hit, but I was shaken by the closeness of an accident with children.

When I walked my dog in the same area later that day, I saw a resident bringing gear and hurrying to get into the park area. I asked, "Do you still have children in Little League? I remember you helping as a coach 15 years ago?" In what I consider typical Scripps Ranch volunteer spirit, he replied, "You are right. I have no more small children. I am just doing it because I like to. In fact, as you remember, my 18-year-old son is also helping." They made my day.

Condolences to a Resident

Commander Katie Copic is a longtime resident of Scripps Ranch and a retired Navy nurse. We also call her our "trunk lady" for her work in restoring old trunks. She served our armed forces in combat in the role of a nurse anesthesiologist. She also was a devoted family member, taking care of her mother, brother, and sisters over the years.

Katie opened her heart and home to others, and still found time to serve as a volunteer in our library and other venues. Her care of her younger brother, John Robert Copic, a U.S. Navy veteran came to an end in January with his death in the Chula Vista Veterans Home. He had moved there when his care could not be handled at home. Using his words to describe the home, "I’ve died and gone to heaven." What a wonderful way for a veteran to react to his care.

This is an inspiring story of love of family, and especially the role of a veteran taking care of other veterans. Thanks, Katie, for all you did for our country, our service men and women, your family, and what you continue to do for the Ranch. It is greatly appreciated. Our sympathies on the death of your brother, John Copic.

Our Nation’s Response After September 11

I received a copy of a newspaper article written by a Romanian, Cornel Nistorescu, trying to describe Americans and our collective reactions to the horrible tragedy of September 11. I will quote just the last part of this article, which is inspiring and deserves to be published for all to read, especially since we read of the anti-American sentiment in Europe.

"How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being? What on earth can unite Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs, hearing God Bless America sung over and over, and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion. Only freedom can work such miracles."

God bless America.