SLO High tree removal sparks protest

July 6, 2017

The San Luis Coastal Unified School District has angered neighbors of San Luis Obispo High by announcing plans to cut down large trees on campus and replace them with new buildings. Protesters expressed their outrage on Wednesday by holding a tree sit-in.

District plans call for the removal of a large eucalyptus tree, which San Luis Coastal says is unsafe. The tree will be replaced with a new student support center and performing arts building.

Likewise, a large Heritage Oak and other trees located at the northern edge of campus will be removed and replaced with a 12-classroom building. District officials say there are few, if any, places to build on campus, and they need to meet the expanding needs of students.

Workers will remove the trees next week and begin construction on the annex classroom building next month, according to the school district. The district says it will replant trees for every tree removed over the next five years.

John Salisbury, who lives next to the large oak tree, said the district lulled neighbors into a “bait and switch.” Salisbury stated in an email that, in April, the district distributed flyers showing the trees would remain. But more recently, neighbors were told the trees would be removed.

“When finally getting an acute layout just two weeks ago, we were shocked to see all the trees are to be removed and the building practically in our backyards,” Salisbury wrote.

Assistant Superintendent Ryan Pinkerton said in a response to Salisbury that the district has been very clear about its intentions and needs.


You’ve got to start thinking like an academic administrator… Trees are worthless as they do not generate money for the district. A “student support center”? Great idea! Does that mean hiring more faculty/tutors/librarians/coaches to help students? No, that means inserting businesses that generate profit, such as Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. Performing Arts Center? Another great idea! Does that mean spending money to support music/drama/arts program? No, that means having a facility the district can rent out to the public. In the end, we should feel lucky that removing classrooms and building a convention center was not part of the district’s plans.


What would happen to me if that Heritage oak tree were on my property and I cut it down?


Rich in MB, This is about trees at the Slo High. Stop trying to make everything into Left Vs Right.

Enough already.


I think this is a clear case of nimby and much less about the trees themselves. In fact, one lady even stated that she won’t ‘be able to look at the trees…’

There’s very little, if any, argument against building classrooms for kids.

Jorge Estrada

Maybe we need more virtual classrooms so that students can learn from their own homes where practical? Autonomous everything is the way of the future, privacy is an obstacle that is soon to be remedied (removed).


Trees vs. education. What battle do you want to fight? Or maybe they can build the classrooms up in the trees……… or grow trees in the classrooms?


My suggestion would be to compromise and only remove the eucalyptus, as it is a non native invasive species. The Heritage Oak should stay.


Hey San Luis Coastal Unified School Board, see the historic Old Gym to the left in the photo? Why not raze it and build a “student union” featuring a Starbucks, a Chick-fil-A, a California Pizza Kitchen outlet and some safe spaces? Maybe add a private faculty-only second floor?

I’m sure you feel that you could tell us how much it’s needed, how we’re all ignorant and don’t realize that students can’t be expected to bring their own lunch or to eat in the NEW cafeteria — or how faculty need a new lounge due to the stresses of teaching?

Go ahead San Luis Coastal Unified School Board, make our day — again.


Can’t have a Chick-fil-A, that is a Christian based organization. Starbucks is ok though.


This is just sad. That campus has been an ill-maintained pigsty for years. Now they are spending MILLIONS OF DOLLARS building stuff that isn’t needed — including million dollar tennis courts. In the process the rest of the campus’ legacy is being demolished including these wonderful trees.

Take a look at the history of this campus. A GORGEOUS, heavily reinforced structure that once housed both the high school and the junior college was razed (it had so much steel in it that it took months to demolish) in the 1960s in order to build the POS that stands in its place — by a firm whose president served on the school board at the time. Conflict much?

In the late 1970’s/early 1980’s a “new gym”, unneeded classrooms and other structures were added to the campus for no reason other than to burn up some money from Diablo-generated taxes. The school lost its trademark grand entrance and historic WPA rock work so that a new gym that looks like the county jail could be built in the most incongruent of locations.

Now this crap. No school district, you’re not fooling anyone. This is a first class boondoggle that’s being built in the face of losing Diablo Canyon taxes. Ridiculous.