Blue Gum Hill

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A favorite walk for years, from our place in the North Berkeley flatlands, up Vine Street, Vine Walk, La Loma Steps, to Buena Vista Avenue. That last street winds up a hill full of stands of immense eucalyptus trees (also known as blue gums in their native Australia; they’re looming in the fog in the shot above) . When I say immense, I”m guessing some are pushing 150 feet in height 15 feet in girth at their base. They’re in many cases unwanted/ I recently came across a neighborhood flyer on a street in the hills that was appealing to neighbors to get together and pay for a “once in a generation” chance to cut down some view-blocking eucalyptus trees; the opportunity came up because the house in the yard of which the trees stood had recently changed hands, and the owner was willing to have the trees felled as long as he could split the expense. The eucalyptus also make locals nervous because when they burn, they burn fiercely. There’s no stopping a fire that’s burning through the crown of a stand of these trees. I remember hearing occasional sharp reports during the Oakland Hills fire of 1991 and thinking they were gas tanks exploding only to be told by an Australian spectator that it was blue gums. Absent fire–and today is anything but fire weather–they’re beautiful.

4 Comments

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4 Responses to Blue Gum Hill

  1. Rob

    At 150 feet tall and 15 feet in diameter, we’re talking about a considerable expense. Over $1000 per tree, I suspect.

  2. Rob

    A little more on the subject courtesy of my cousins in Minneapolis. There, they mandate the citizens remove some trees at their own expense.
    http://www.crabapplelane.net/ftb_blog/2004/07/the-subject-was-elm-trees.html
    I don’t think elm trees get 150ft tall but I don’t think Berkeley has the sweet little racket for their removal services that Minneapolis has. No idea what happens if the resident can’t come up with that much in such a sort period. I love Minneapolis but I’d fight that tooth and nail.
    Elm tree removal was $850-$1850 in 2004. I was probably on the low end when I suggest $1000/per.

  3. Dan

    Rob, I mentioned the neighborhood up in the hills that was trying to get rid of a couple of these trees. The price I saw quoted for the two — both in the 80- to 100-foot range — was $7,500. I think the size of the trees, the hillside location, and the liability issues working around a bunch of overpriced homes all adds to the cost.

  4. Rob

    That’s a little stiff but not terribly surprising. We had outrageous rates here right after Katrina. All it takes is for one element to be out of kilter for those prices to skyrocket.

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