Dead trees at Poway High School concern neighbors

District says trees could be removed by October
Posted at 5:17 AM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 09:49:50-04

POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) - A row of dead and dying trees that line a fence at Poway High School could come down as soon as October, according to the Poway Unified School District. Meanwhile, people who live in the area are furious that it hasn't been done yet.

"It's right behind the school," says Hal Benham, who taught in the district for almost three decades. "That's a danger to the kids who go here."

The trees line a fence along Espola Road. It's behind the bleachers near the football field. Benham says he counted dozens of dead eucalyptus trees and saw at least a half dozen that have fallen over. Several trees have their roots exposed.

"As far as I'm concerned, something needs to be done and nobody's doing anything," he says.

Benham told 10News that it's not just an eyesore, it's a danger to kids. He pointed out the trees are just feet away from the spot where the city launches its 4th of July Fireworks. He believes it could be a fire code violation.

Benham says he wrote letters to the school's principal, the Poway Unified School District Superintendant, every member of the School Board, the facilities manager and even the fire marshal. He showed 10News a few of the responses.

The Board President, Michelle O'Connor-Ratcliff, wrote him that the District is well aware of the problem and working on a solution. But, according to the letter he showed us, contractors told the district the clean up could cost as much as $200,000, which was "well over the budgeted amount for tree trimming and removal."

A District spokesperson told 10News they already have $85,000 in the budget for the project and they're currently in the process of taking formal bids. They hope to present them to the Board at their meeting in September and get the trees removed by October.

The spokesperson said the delay over the summer came because the district wanted to use a contractor already employed by the City of Poway to try and avoid a lengthy bid process, but they were unable to do so.

The district also said as long as the bids come in within 25% of the expected budget, they'll be able to get the project done.

Benham suggested a community effort could also solve the problem.

"I think it's a great idea," he says. "It's something that wouldn't cost a lot of money and hopefully the district would want to have done."