Del Mar council approves removal of 80-foot Torrey Pine

An 80-foot endangered Torrey Pine tree in Del Mar will soon be tagged for removal, after a local conservationist who works to save rainforests won a permit to remove it from his 15th Street home.

The issue boiled down to the city choosing sides on two completely different arborist reports — one ordered by applicant Ivan Gayler saying the tree was a safety hazard and one commissioned by neighbors Charles and Kathryn Brinton who appealed the decision, saying the tree imposed no threat.

“Our protection of the rare and endangered Torrey Pine only makes our community more beautiful and protects our quality of life,” said Kathryn Brinton, whose home shares the shade of the conifer’s canopy. Another neighbor testified that she would like to see the tree remain intact.

An arborist hired by the city revealed that the tree’s lean has increased over the years and could collapse on a windy, wet day. It also documented an air pocket underneath the roots and soil heaving at the tree’s base, which are additional signs the tree could fall.

The appellants’ arborist said that the tree’s lean was due to phototropic growth — growing toward the sun — and was not dangerous.

— Claire Harlin

   
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