Before the Clearcutters Came

Sometimes changes occur so abruptly and unexpectedly in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, I regret not documenting what was—never anticipating that the thang could be gone. The tree outside our primary windows and palm at Cleveland and Monroe are examples. Today’s loss, on the inappropriately-timed first day of Spring, was catastrophic for some of my neighbors, who were reminded: renters have no say.

Calico Harley resides in a row of cute cottages that, until this afternoon, were almost completely obscured from view because of the variety of succulents and trees growing in front of the property and down the side. The well-tended, and healthy, jungle was lush and lovely. When workers started cutting down a single tree this morning, I complained to my wife about another horticultural butcher job. What I could never imagine is how devastating would be the clearcutting. For today, I refrain from showing what is. Let’s look at what was.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image on Jan. 25, 2021; it’s an outtake for post “Nature Shaves the Bearded Tree“. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mmm; 11:34 a.m. PST. The shrubs, succulents, and trees directly behind the white car are gone; the more massive clearcutting came along the main property, outside the cottages. Later, I observed one resident crying while taking photos of the shocking deforestation.

The two companion portraits, of Harley, are outtakes from her profile in my “Cats of University Heights” series. Taken with iPhone X, they are the only other photos I have that give any semblance of the tropical forest that was habitat to birds and squirrels—and who knows what else. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 80, 1/60 sec, .97 ev, 52mm (film equivalent); 5:07 p.m. PDT, April 23, 2018. The other is the same, but ISO 40 and 10 minutes later.

I later learned that residents had no advanced warning about the clearcutting, which was prompted by the property’s sale. The new owners plan a major renovation. They have destroyed the natural charm, next surely will be the cottages’ character.