SAN DIEGO -- Neighbors have given up their fight to save a nearly century-old Torrey Pine in Ocean Beach after an independent arborist determined the behemoth tree is diseased, dying and at risk of falling over.
On Sunday night about two dozen neighbors gathered around the 73-foot tree at 4652 Saratoga Ave. for a candlelight vigil, a sage ceremony and some final goodbyes.
“It’s sad, it’s like losing a family member almost,” said Kristi Castrogiovani, who has lived on the street for 16 years.
The tree is named Esperanza, or Elvis, depending on who you ask. The old tree had neighbors divided between those who feared it would fall and wanted it removed and those who thought the tree should stay.
The city was scheduled to remove the tree on Friday, but following protests by community activists chose to hold off at the last minute.
“What is our first and foremost priority is the safety of the residents of Saratoga,” Castrogiovani said.
Neighbors blame the drought and the city, alleging city crews did not prune the tree enough.
“I think the city ought to a face up to the fact that they’re supposed to take care of things that are growing in the parkway,” resident Maryolive Shoupe said.
Her father germinated the seeds of the Ocean Beach Torrey Pines, she said.
The city has not said when it will remove the tree, but neighbors expect it to be soon.