Getting information from Santa Barbara’s arborist, Tim Downey, is ridiculous. He has proven time and again he is incompetent.

Why? Just look at any city tree on any of our city streets in this once beautiful town. There are dead, dying, butchered, infected trees all over the town. Some have been dead for as long as three years.

Example: Go to Alameda Padre Serra and Coda Street and look. Yes! There is an oak that has been dead for three years. It has not been removed, and it is passing on infection to other oaks.

As I warned the Parks Department last year, if they did not do anything about the way Mr. Downey has the ficus pruned on Milpas Street, they would split and fall over. So far this has happened three times. As for the stone pines on Anapamu, some of the trees are being held up by the phone wires. Any fool can see this, but not the Parks & Recreation Department run by Nancy Rapp, Jill Zachery and Downey.

The reason for this lack of care for our city trees is because Mr. Downey spends his time ambushing the public when they dare to have their trees pruned in a fashion he finds artistically not to his liking. “You pruned more than a fourth of your tree.” Citation. “You have changed the shape of your tree.” Citation.

Yes, folks, I know this sounds unbelievable, but it’s true.

To prove my point, I have been cited by him twice in this town, for pruning he didn’t like. Naturally, this was just revenge for being outspoken. I refused to pay the extortion fine, took him to Superior Court and won both cases. This, I might add, cost the city about $4,000 to prosecute me out of shear malice.

We need a new man to run this city’s tree program and dump the incompetent, ambushing bureaucrats that are pushing us around without any common sense.

The suggestion that we deep water the trees in the city is only about a year too late, and some can’t be saved even now. It’s too bad, as Anapamu was our great iconic street — now a disaster. Go to my site,, for an education.

We used to have a great city arborist by the name of Dan Condon. He was loved by everyone and was helpful to the people in this city — and the trees on the streets looked great. He was a hands-on arborist. Not a week goes by when I’m not asked what happened to him, why did they replace him with this no-nothing bureaucrat who threatens all the homeowners in town with his power to tell them how to prune their trees or, even more, a rock on their front lawn with buying a permit?

Contact me if you have found Downey to be a troublemaker — not a problem solver. Call me at t805.969.4057, or email me at I will present your name to the growing list of unhappy homeowners in this city to the City Council to show they have a man who has no support as our city arborist, as one has only to look at the trees on the streets to see he is a giant failure at his job.

We deserve better than this.

Gene Tyburn
Certified arborist
Santa Barbara