SAN DIEGO – Escondido neighbors fight to save old growth trees that they say the city of Escondido has started to cut down without notice.
A group of residents took part in a walking tour with city officials Tuesday evening to examine the trees slated to come down. A city arborist tried to explain to 10News why the trees pose a risk.
"It's your guess or my guess as to which one is going to fail first, and basically that's not what we want to be doing is guessing as to what the health of a tree is," Arborist Raphael Rivera said.
"A tree that looks healthy may not be, it may have hollow branches, it may have hollow roots, it may be an accident waiting to happen," said Julie Procopio, assistant director for Escondido Public Works.
During the tour, city officials and neighbors examined 16 trees in six different locations. They fielded questions from angry neighbors.
"They'll be replaced with 24-inch box trees," Rivera explained to neighbors.
"They have not been replaced with 24-inch box trees and they all died they look like little twigs," resident Shelley Fox said. "How many years before we have shady trees in the neighborhood again?!"
The city recently started a multimillion-dollar improvement project to repair buckling sidewalks and streets. Some question the timing of the tree removal.
"It's very suspicious that this is taking place when the sidewalk repair is being done. Safety was not an issue before, all of a sudden it is," said Day Joudrey, who started the group Concerned Citizens for the Preservation of Old Escondido's Heritage Trees.
"There are so many alternatives to fix it and work with the trees and work with the roots," Fox said.
Neighbors are also worried about property values and a lack of shade once the trees are gone.
"They're ripping out these old growth, beautiful, big canopy trees and they're replacing them with these little twigs," Fox said.
The city says it may call in outside arborists to inspect some of the remaining 16 trees. Homeowners can choose from a list of approved replacement trees. They will be responsible for the maintenance.
"We live here and it's devastating," Fox said.