Yesterday, we fact checked Bloomberg journalist Roger Lowenstein, who wrote that cuts to city tree trimming services had put San Diego residents at greater risk of being hit by falling coconuts. That statement was false. Coconuts don’t grow in San Diego. But Lowenstein’s larger assertion, that untrimmed trees are getting more dangerous, has resonated with readers.

The comments showing up on our Fact Check are pretty startling, illustrating just how dangerous falling limbs, fronds, and palm berries can be for pedestrians passing by. It’s a problem that is likely to get worse as the city continues scaling back its tree trimming services.

Monika Gardner, a South Park resident, watched a palm frond fall on her toddler:

A few years back I was playing in the front yard of a friend’s house on Dale Street with my toddler. It was a very clear, calm day. All of a sudden, I looked up to see this giant palm frond fall on my child! The noise was incredible and I could not get to my boy in time to avert him from almost being hit on the head from a palm frond. This frond weighed several pounds and was falling from a height of 30 to 40 feet. Fortunately, my son fell backwards when he looked up at the noise and narrowly avoided being hit. I know that this could have caused him great harm had he not fell backwards. He escaped with a few scratches but I am always aware of this danger when walking in the neighborhood. It is impossible to avoid all of these trees in this “walkable” neighborhood. It is unfortunate that the public is put in this kind of danger.

David Cohen, who lives in Hillcrest, has been cleaning up after the city’s mess:

Just yesterday on Hillcrest’s Sixth Avenue my wife and I moved two recently-fallen tree limbs/fronds/whatevers of considerable weight and size from where they lay across the sidewalk. We might not have thought to do it, but the debris would have proven challenging to the mobility-limited woman approaching us who used a cane to aid her in walking.

Living on the edge of Balboa Park’s spacious and tree-lined West Side grounds, we see miscellaneous tree parts on the grass, sidewalk, and street after most rain or wind events. So far, we have not found injured pedestrians or bike riders under them. One or two negligence lawsuits will probably cost the City more than maintaining the tree trimming program, but I guess that’s a different budget line item.

And Margaret Wallace wondered whether a near-death accident in Balboa Park had anything to do with the city’s reduction in tree trimming services:

No, there are no coconut palms to boink us on the head in San Diego, but last week, a man driving on Park Blvd. to the Natural History Museum with his kids had a eucalyptus branch fall through his windshield and almost kill him. Was that because there is no money to trim trees in general (not only palms)?

Have your own stories of accidents from falling tree debris? Get in touch, or leave your stories below.

Please contact Adrian Florido directly at or at 619.325.0528 and follow him on Twitter:

Adrian Florido

Adrian Florido is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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