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COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : LOS ALAMITOS

Mulberry Trees Spared the Ax--Temporarily

The scheduled removal is postponed until a residents' committee and the city can reach a compromise.

August 17, 2000|CHRIS CEBALLOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The mulberry trees in the New Dutch Haven neighborhood will stay, for now.

About 100 of the large, fruitless, canopy trees and their invasive roots were slated for removal and replacement over the next seven years as part of a effort to plant 1,100 trees in the same time period.

However, no trees will be removed until a five-member committee of neighborhood residents can meet with city officials and iron out a compromise on the issue.

"I'm going to be optimistic about [the future meetings]," said Rebecca Hult, after appearing at a City Council meeting this week. "We're really grateful that the [council] really seemed to listen to us. We're glad that they're willing to work with us."

City officials had approved the trees' removal last year, because of the damage the trees' large root systems had caused to sewer lines, sidewalks, curbs and gutters. "We've replaced sidewalks in that area three times over the last 20 years," said Dave Cox, superintendent of public works.

Citywide, Cox said the damage caused by trees to city infrastructure has totaled about $800,000. Moreover, he said many of the trees that are 30 years or older are more susceptible to disease and termite infestation.

But residents, who discovered this month that 75 of the trees were to be removed in the first three years of the program, jumped into action.

They quickly collected 146 signatures on a petition objecting to the trees' removal and several neighborhood meetings were held with Tom Kneeshaw, volunteer chairman of the Parkway Tree Program.

"We would like [the residents] to come up with some degree of uniformity," Kneeshaw said. "There were some who wanted to keep the mulberry trees and there were some people who didn't want trees at all. It's very difficult to please everybody."

The program allows residents to choose between four types of trees to replace diseased and problematic trees.

"We don't disagree with removing the trees that are diseased and infested," Hult said. "But we have a lot of really healthy trees and we don't want them to rip them out. We want our children to enjoy them and we want to enjoy them ourselves. That's one of the reasons we moved here."

Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.

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