After a group of volunteers organized to do the work, a city crew on Tuesday cleaned up downed trees and broken pots left by vandals in Petaluma.

"We don't have to lift a finger. The city has kindly stepped in," said Alan Allen, a Petaluma resident who organized the volunteer effort.

By early Tuesday afternoon, the Lakeville Street mess was gone.

"All of our squawking and pulling together volunteers got the attention of the city," said Virginia May, director of the Petaluma Arts Center. "Which is great."

The vandal or vandals struck early Saturday, knocking down nine young trees in large pots.

The trees had lined a sidewalk in front of the Petaluma Arts Center and the Petaluma Visitors Center.

From Saturday to Tuesday morning the vandalism remained with the toppled trees encroaching on the street.

Allen heard of the crime during the weekend. On Monday, Allen and his son Jacob, 13, went to see what they could do.

With the help of another man, they tried to right the pots, but they were too heavy. So Allen lined up a loaner forklift and put out the word for a team of volunteers to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

A local restaurant delivered juice, milk and water for the effort.

Allen was expecting about 12 people but cancelled the effort after getting word from the city's public works department that a city crew would step in.

He was happy to have the professionals take over, but had been looking forward to the community effort.

"I was trying to rally the troops and make a difference," said Allen, who runs Community Bikes, a nonprofit group that fixes up donated bikes and gives them away.

City workers indicated they planned to cut holes in the concrete and plant new trees in the ground, said Allen.

That gave the vandalism a silver lining, he said. The trees didn't seem to be doing well in the pots, so planting new ones into the ground seemed a better plan.

"It helped us as a city make a better decision," Allen said.

Petaluma police Tuesday were pursuing a lead on the vandalism, Sgt. Ralph Evans said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or