Is This Legal? "Savvy Boutique" Breaks Out a Chainsaw <<<UPDATES>>>

NOB HILL--There is one less tree on Central Ave. this Monday morning.  Why?  Apparently because "Savvy Boutique at Nob Hill"  didn't like it and chopped it down on Sunday.  Savvy Boutique is about to open their store on the corner of Central and Wellesley NE, former site of "Objects of Desire."

The store windows are papered over announcing the store will be opening soon.  However late Sunday morning two workers were cutting down a tree in front of the store with a chainsaw.  The tree was growing in one of the "bulb-outs" that were added to the Central Ave streetscape by the city about ten years ago.  The trees, as well as ornamental grasses and flowers that grow in the bulb-outs, are regularly maintained.

Sunday Lumberjacks
That anybody would be cutting down a street tree on a Sunday morning is suspicious in itself.  In fact, it was my wife who came home after a walk with the news that someone was cutting down a city-owned tree.  And as we all know, those trees belong to ALL of us--the people of Albuquerque.  That a local business would chop one down was inconceivable to me.

However, MaryAnn had pictures.  One showed two men in front of the store.  One man was holding two branches in his arms.  The other, who appeared to be talking to him, had a red-handled chainsaw and was working on the stump.  The stump was all that was left of the tree.  Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

The age of the tree was the same as the one kitty-corner across the street--in front of Gertrude Zachary.  It was of a good size.  By the way, the tree that was cut down was the only tree on the north side of Central Ave. in the whole block.

What Tree?
I had to go down the street and see this for myself.  Well there was no tree in front of Savvy and no sign of one either:  no chips, no stump, no nothing.  I went around to the back of the store.  There was nothing in the dumpsters, nor any other sign of a tree or its removal.  Was there no evidence?  Nothing but a memory?  Nothing to even provoke a question?

I went back to the front of the store and scuffed the dirt away with my foot.  There it was:  The Stump!  It had been cut off level with the ground.  it was about a foot in diameter.

The Stump
That's all that is left of ten years of watering.  A community made a decision to plant and support this tree.  For ten years it withstood heat, cold, drought, and pedestrian abuse.  However, it could not survive the chainsaw attack of this Sunday morning.

Savvy?  Hardly.
Why was it done?  I guess it was going to interfere with a sign for Savvy.  Who knows?  But I will tell you this:  a Sunday morning chop job on a publicly owned tree does not speak well for any business. 

***Update!!!  Neal Copperman reports that Savvy's Facebook account has the following message:  "We apologize to those offended by the cutting of the tree outside of Savvy. We were unaware that the tree was going to be cut down. We will gladly be replanting a new tree!"

***Update!!!  By 2:00AM that message had disappeared from their Facebook page, but a couple of humorous comments referring to it remain.

***Update!!!  Edith Grove reports a new message on the Savvy Facebook page:

I would have never guessed that cutting down a tree would affect so many people but now that I see it does, I would like to offer my sincere apology, I am truly sorry.
The intentions were to help the visibility of a new locally owned store. I am sure that doesn’t make sense to you and I’m pretty sure whatever I say, to help explain my actions, wouldn’t. So again, I apologize for not thinking in depth, before acting.
In leu of restitution and in an attempt to try and make peace, I would like to offer to plant a new tree where ever you would like me to.
I will be honest and state that any message that does not come through a private message will not be taken seriously and will be erased. I do realize that I made a mistake and I hope my offer is sufficient, and I can assure you that this will never happen again, on our behalf.
Savvy Boutique

There are a lot of unanswered how could they have not known.  Stay tuned.  Meanwhile, a big Congratulations and Thank You are in order for the DCF community.  What an outpouring of concern.  Every tree still standing on a public right-of-way thanks you!  As do the birds and bees, the shade seekers, and those who like a more human-friendly place to live and shop.  Gracias.

Views: 13352

Comment by Jesse on January 21, 2013 at 1:24pm

I have been a practicing Landscape Architect for almost 20 year and I am still surprised how often this type of thing happens.  People always reference beautiful tree lined retail streets when they are asked what they think would improve a place.  Once trees are planted the retail locations often site trees as blocking views of their signs or prominent architecture and resort to guerrilla tactics to remove offending trees.  The worst offenders are often car dealerships.  They feel like they are forced to put in trees by the municipal ordinance which is detrimental to their business.  The usual practice is to put in the least possible landscaping that ordinance requires and then turn off the water to the plantings, prune trees until they are barely viable or just remove them after they have their certificate of occupation.  It's just too bad people don't see the bigger picture.

Comment by once banned twice shy on January 21, 2013 at 1:39pm

Erm...Johnny, maybe MaryAnn should call 311 and report it?  Plus, what JeSais said--contact Garduno and the neighborhood association.

Comment by JeSais on January 21, 2013 at 1:45pm
Comment by Phil_0 on January 21, 2013 at 1:54pm

@Jesse, in this case the business isn't even the party responsible for maintaining the planting bed where the tree was located. I'm willing to bet it's not their water, either.

OBTS is right, a call to 311 seems in order. Per a friend in the Planning department this is potentially a code violation.

Comment by amecus j on January 21, 2013 at 2:18pm

opps. wasn't aware of the redistricting.

Comment by anais on January 21, 2013 at 2:29pm

The google street view image above is from November 2007.  

Comment by Greg Smith on January 21, 2013 at 2:30pm

The value of a tree that size is in the low thousands. This is a crime and should be treated as one. I am not sure but it looks like the tree was a Chinese Pistache a very nice tree for this area.

Comment by Thumper on January 21, 2013 at 2:45pm

From the looks of those pictures that stump appears to tell us that the tree was dead. It is missing a lot of bark and appears to have a dead spot in the middle where you can see the cross section. It'd be nice to hear from the people involved before getting all up in arms about this.

Comment by Greg Smith on January 21, 2013 at 2:50pm

Some species of tree shed layers of bark it is normal, sycamores for one. No matter what the health status of the tree was it was not the business owners call to remove it.


Comment by Debo on January 21, 2013 at 3:18pm

That was not very savvy of them, eh?


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