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1469 E. Valley Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108

P.O. Box 5278
Santa Barbara, CA 93150

Tel: (805) 969-2026
Fax: (805) 969-4043

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SCE Street Tree Maintenance

The Montecito Association received a presentation from representatives of Southern California Edison (SCE) concerning its tree trimming efforts in Montecito.  SCE had been invited to address concerns regarding tree trimming practices and their effect on the health and appearance of street trees.

This is what we learned from Patrick Gladden, SCE Arborist, and Patricia Bartoli-Wible, SCE Regional Manager. SCE contracts with Asplundh, a national tree trimming company that can be seen around Montecito with its orange trucks.    Asplundh represents itself as a “tree expert company.”  It is their charge to trim trees away from power lines as mandated by state law.  SCE emphasized the trimming is done for safety purposes only, not for aesthetics or tree health.  That is, safety from personal injury, fire and power outages. 

The distance between the tree branches and the power lines depends on the voltage being carried by the lines.  The higher the voltage, the greater the distance required between the tree and the power lines.  Also, Asplundh must anticipate tree growth during the year and reduce the distance even further.  A faster growing tree will be trimmed more than a slower growing tree.  Trimming is scheduled for once a year but some fast growing trees need trimming twice a year.

SCE says it is their practice to notify homeowners in advance of tree trimming, however, based upon the experience of several members present, this does not appear to be occurring.  Homeowners can have their own tree trimmers “balance” their trees but only ‘qualified line clearance tree trimmers’ should work within 10 feet of high-voltage lines.  Using non-qualified tree trimmers for work close to power lines is a misdemeanor and a liability for the homeowner.

Responding to the complaints of lack of notification, trimmings left behind and truck damage to bushes by Asplundh, Patricia Bartoli-Wible, Regional Manager, Local Pubic Affairs officer for SCE said to call or email her and she would contact Asplundh to resolve the issue.  Patricia’s telephone number and email address are 805-683-5237 and

The Montecito Association will continue to work with SCE to attempt to obtain better outcomes for the trimming of trees along public roadways.