More Trees to Get Axed

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A resident walks her dog by 619 and 621 Poppy Avenue on Thursday. Both trees are slated to be removed. — Photo by Sara Hall
A resident walks her dog by 619 and 621 Poppy Avenue on Thursday. Both trees are slated to be removed.
— Photo by Sara Hall

Several more trees were approved for the chopping block this week.

Commissioners unanimously approved the removal of five trees at separate locations during Tuesday’s Parks, Beaches & Recreation meeting.

The 4-0 vote, with commissioners Tom Anderson and Marie Martson absent, are the most recent cuts in a long line of city trees being inspected and removed since a blue gum eucalyptus fell and killed a woman in 2011.

Since then, hundreds of trees have been removed from around the city.

The parents of Haeyoon Miller, 29, of Tustin, recently received a $1.1 million settlement with the city.

The trees now slated for removal are located at 619 and 621 Poppy Ave., 1739 Candlestick Ln., 330 Morning Canyon Rd., and 531 Hazel Dr.

“So many of these trees in our community are getting old,” said commissioner Roy Englebrecht, so they have the potential to fail. “But then when we sometimes arbitrarily remove trees because we think they are going to fall over, we cannot replace them – that is of concern.”

The entire policy may need to be re-written, Englebrecht suggested.

Modifying the G-6 policy regarding trees would be helpful, suggested longtime Corona del Mar resident Ron Yeo. The policy requirements of where trees are allowed to be planted or not, he continued, are not appropriate for Corona del Mar.

If they follow it as it’s currently written, “the whole fabric of our community is going to go down the tubes,” he said.

He is in favor of saving trees when possible, but also understands the safety risks diseased trees pose.

The homeowner of 619 Poppy Avenue said the trees on his street are beautiful, but that particular tree in front of their home is a safety hazard.

Two more trees on Poppy Avenue will be removed soon. — Photo by Sara Hall
Two more trees on Poppy Avenue will be removed soon.
— Photo by Sara Hall

“Bark, when we sit out in our front yard, has actually fallen on us,” he said. “The tree is actually coming apart.”

The leaves that fall off the tree are also infected, he added.

“It is definitely something that we will miss. We do like the trees there,” he said. “But when you’re dealing with a failed tree, it becomes a safety issue.”

The homeowner at 619 requested the removal of both trees following the failure of another tree at 721 Poppy, explained Mike Pisani, deputy municipal operations director.

Both the tree at 619 Poppy and at 621 are desert gum eucalyptus trees and are considered city “special” trees.

During an inspection on Sept. 24, sulfur fungus conks were found in the soil surrounding the tree at 619 Poppy.

“Conks indicate internal decay and potential tree failure at the soil line or below ground,” Pisani read from the staff report.

Staff originally recommended that the tree at 619 Poppy not be removed until further inspection and discovered the conks at the soil line.

Once they have the fungus down below it hits the root system and a heavy wind can cause them to fall, Pisani said.

A declining canopy and peeling bark show that the tree at 621 Poppy is “rapidly deteriorating,” according to the staff report, and has had root loss due to hardscape work and property development over the years.

An Australian willow will be replanted at 619 and nothing at 621 because it is an “inappropriate planting site,” according to the staff report.

Other trees that have failed on Poppy Avenue have been replaced with Australian willows, Pisani explained

The homeowners also commented that the Australian willow is not their favorite tree.

Another aspect of the issue, the homeowner commented, is that their insurance policy may be canceled due to the risk. So it has also become a financial issue.

It was found that the tree on Candlestick Lane could not be safely root pruned without “incurring potential liability and possible tree failure,” according to the staff report. It will be replaced with either a crape myrtle or a southern magnolia, both of which are already planted elsewhere along the street.

Another desert gum eucalyptus, a special city tree, behind 531 Hazel Drive was also approved for removal after finding root decay and sulfur fungus conks. An Australian willow would also be replanted at this location.

Another special city tree at 330 Morning Canyon Road, a Erythrina caffra coral tree, was approved for removal after city staff found internal decay, according to the staff report.

Nearby another tree of the same species recently failed, the report explains.

At the request of the Shorecliffs Property Owners Association, the same type of tree will be replanted at that location.

The homeowner was supportive of replacing it with the same species of tree, as long as it’s smaller, he said.

It’s currently hanging over his daughter’s bedroom and is a “nightmare,” he said. Windy nights can be especially worrisome, he added.

“Just the idea that this tree is posing a danger to this family,” commissioner Kathy Hamilton said. “I can’t imagine living there with a threat of a tree hitting their home.”

A sign posted on the tree at 621 Poppy Avenue. — Photo by Sara Hall
A sign posted on the tree at 621 Poppy Avenue.
— Photo by Sara Hall
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