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Kensington residents stand vigil protecting 100-year-old pepper trees from being removed

Kensington pepper trees
Posted at 11:34 AM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 15:35:47-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Thursday Kensington neighbors clashed with city workers tasked with cutting down three old pepper trees.

"They seem to have a vendetta against these Pepper Trees and they’re going to take them down come hell or high water," Neighbor Harmon Huff said.

Neighbors noticed trouble for the 110-year-old pepper trees last Friday. They stood vigil and kept the trees from being cut down.

No parking signs went up Monday for Tuesday through Friday of this week, so neighbors deliberately parked their vehicles there to protect the trees.

A group of neighbors say Thursday was their fourth day camping out to protect the trees.

They have chairs, signs and even created "No Cutting" signs mocking the city's no parking signs.

When asked how they would protect the trees neighbors said, "I’ll sit at the bottom of the tree," another chimed in, "I’ll climb up in there."

Maggie McCann said "we don’t really have a plan you know? Just hoping that they have a little shame and do the right thing."

"We want to know why the channels we were supposed to go through to protect these trees, getting them designated as historic trees, why that’s been ignored, I’d like to get those answers," Neighbor Kris Reinicke said.

Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera stopped by Tuesday to show his constituents support.

"It’s very easy to wonder why the palm trees are falling down and the peppercorns are staying up during a big storm, why the palm trees are coming down. I’m not an arborist, I can’t tell you what the risk is of the trees coming down," he said.

The city states the trees are a liability, old and decayed.

"If they do a pull test and come over then we’ll accept that, but until they show us some real data these trees are an actual danger and liability we’re not going anywhere," McCann said.

A pull test uses cables to determine the safety and stability of a tree.

City crews tried again Thursday to follow orders to cut the trees down, asking the crowd to move for everyone's safety.

No one budged an inch.

A few hours later the crews left but their heavy equipment stayed, showing the battle isn't over.