Parks Commissioners Seal Tree’s Fate for Chopping Block

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By Amy Senk | Corona del Mar Today

The Aleppo pine set for removal.
The Aleppo pine set for removal.

The Newport Beach Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission denied a Corona del Mar family’s appeal to save the tree near their home and scheduled it for the chopping block.

Last summer, the city’s urban forester inspected the aleppo pine tree, located in the 200 block of Heliotrope Ave., and found it was decayed and had “severe root pruning on both sides which is creating a potential liability,” according to a city letter.

Frank and Pat Vranicar, who own the home where the city tree is planted, said the letter shocked them.

“We love this tree,” Frank Vranicar said. The tree seems healthy, he said, and was the only aleppo ever planted on that block.

“Part of the year, a great blue heron roosts up there,” Pat Vranicar said. “I just love the pine trees, the smell of it.”

The Vranicars said when they bought their home in the mid-1980s, the 200 block of Heliotrope was lined with varieties of pine trees that formed a canopy. Over the years, however, pine beetles and old age caused some of the trees to die and be removed. A storm three years ago knocked down tree branches in the same block, damaging three homes.

Later in 2010, city officials began working with neighbors on trees to replace the pines. Frank Vranicar said he has been active in working with city officials and neighbors to reforest the area.

The pine tree in front of the Vranicar’s home came to the city’s attention during a regular inspection, and a neighbor asked the inspector about the tree’s roots’ damage to her bricks and a wall in front of her home.

City officials sent the Vranicars a letter on Sept. 25, and they appealed the removal of the tree to the parks commission.

“They said they would at least listen to us,” Pat Vranicar said. “It’s a sad tree, and I feel bad for it. Lots of things have lived in it. To me, it’s eye candy.”

Losing the tree likely is inevitable, Frank Vranicar said. But he wants to make sure the city replaces the trees it has removed. City officials plan to replace the tree with a Little Gem magnolia worth $6,080 — but the Vranicars said they would prefer a palm tree if they can’t have pines.

“It’s nice to look at a block that has trees,” he said. “I think it’s a losing battle, but I think we should put our two cents in.”

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