Del Mar residents have successfully lobbied the city to appeal the removal of a tree on Stratford Court. The City Council will set a public hearing date sometime in the coming months to decide whether to reverse their decision on the neighborhood eucalyptus tree.
Resident Ken Margulis' application to have the tree removed was approved by the city in September. Margulis said that the tree is encroaching onto the sidewalk and poses a potential danger to nearby structures.
The council approved the removal of the tree, in line with their 2007 determination that eucalyptus trees are "inherently dangerous and pose potential fire risks."
In response to the city's decision, residents Bill Michalsky and Alice McNally mounted a Save the Tree campaign in their neighborhood, arguing that the tree adds character to the neighborhood and doesn't appear to pose any danger. Several neighbors wrote to the city, asking them to save the tree.
"I was very surprised when I saw so many issues raised by residents," said Brian Mooney, planning and community development director.
In the appeal, McNally wrote that the tree is lovely, strong and sturdy. She wrote that she admires its cool shade and the rustle of the leaves in the wind.
"Eucalyptus trees greet us at each end of the village," McNally wrote. "What would Del Mar be without them? These beautiful trees are as much a part of Del Mar
as the Torrey pine and
McNally said she feels that the trees should be evaluated for removal on a case-by-case basis, not permitted for removal "carte blanch."
Both Michalsky and McNally said that if the tree does have to be removed they would request that a replacement tree of a similar size or several smaller trees be planted in its place.
At the Nov. 16 council meeting, Fire Marshall Robert Scott reiterated that eucalyptus trees are dangerous in a fire because they burn at great intensity. But in visiting this particular tree, Scott said that it is not in proximity to power lines, it is set back more than 25 feet from structures and none of its branches are over any roofs. "There is no reason to declare it a fire hazard," Scott said.