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Del Mar considers plan to eradicate bark beetles

Posted: 4:59 PM, Mar 03, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-04 02:09:48Z

Bark beetles are continuing to eat away at the beloved Torrey pine trees that line Del Mar, and the city is now considering a drastic measure to fight back.

The drought conditions are hindering the trees' ability to defend itself, and that's opened the door to a bark beetle infestation.

Currently, Del Mar appears to be winning the battle at two of its city parks. It placed bark beetle traps last year, and has so far collected 50,000 bugs -- more than 10 times the amount of trees on Del Mar public property.

Del Mar resident David Parkes said it helps keep the public safe.

"We saw a lot of the trees started to lose limbs and stuff and so I think eventually it'll start breaking down the tree," he said.

Private property is another issue entirely. Del Mar currently has no authority to enter someone's land and remove a sick tree, and stop the beetles from spreading.

On Monday, the City Council will discuss how far its code enforcers should be able to go. In other words: Should the city be allowed to enter private property, remove a sickened tree, and bill the owner, including placing a lien on their land?

Parkes said he sees a Torrey pine on every fourth or fifth home.

"If it's a safety issue that needs to be taken out, that makes sense, and then if it's just for someone to get a better view, than that's a different issue," he said.

A Del Mar city official said there's a similar tree removal ordinance in Carmel-by-the-Sea, in Monterrey County.

It could cost up to $300 an hour for an arborist to report on whether a tree is healthy.