Newly planted trees felled in nighttime vandalism spree

Boredom and intoxication allegedly led five young adults from Pacifica to vandalize trees in a newly built community park in South City.

Police said four male teenagers and a 20-year-old woman from Pacifica were seen breaking the trunks and limbs of 13 newly planted trees in Centennial Way Linear Park, which opened April 19.

After a short pursuit Wednesday night, police were able to arrest three of the five suspects, including Julie Dawn Buckner, a 20-year-old student.

According to Sgt. Joni Lee, all of the minors were intoxicated and had two bottles of whiskey and scotch, which they claimed they found in a nearby ditch.

The teenagers denied damaging the trees, and said they headed to South City because they were bored and wanted to get out of Pacifica, according to Lee.

“There are plenty of things to do in Pacifica,” said Pacifica Councilmember Julie Lancelle. “This is very disappointing. I think they should be made to repair the damage that they caused and not have their parents pay for it.”

South City workers were angry and upset that the park was damaged only one month after its grand opening.

Sharon Ranals, director of the South City Recreation and Community Services department, said the trees were planted in early April.

It took the city eight years to put together the funding for the Centennial Way, a 3-mile-long park that traverses the city. Only the first section of the park was completed.

“I have three teens of my own and I understand that kids make bad judgments, but this is just hard to understand because it seems so destructive and not just mischievous,” Ranals said.

The teenagers allegedly broke three trees and severely damaged another 10, Ranals said.

Police said the teens caused more than $3,000 in damage to city property. They were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit felony vandalism, resisting arrest and possession of alcohol.

svasilyuk@sfexaminer.com

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