SAN DIEGO — The City of San Diego cut down five palm trees along Newport Avenue near Santa Barbara Monday morning, despite an outcry from neighbors.
Tracy Van De Walker said she sat under a tree in protest, but moved once officers threatened to arrest her.
For months, residents have been trying to save the trees.
Last October, Van De Walker filed a lawsuit to prevent the city from removing the trees. She and her neighbors say that the trees are 100 years old and part of the fabric of the community.
She told CBS 8 a court date was set for July, and that the city wasn’t supposed to remove any in the meantime.
“They won’t communicate with us. They haven’t showed us any documents or anything on the reasoning why,” said Van De Walker.
Yesterday morning, residents received notices from the city not to park along Newport Avenue, but the notices didn’t explain why.
According to neighbors, the city crews arrived on Monday at 7:15 a.m. along with SDPD officers. Five trees were removed. CBS 8 has learned 10 more trees in the neighborhood are being monitored and could come down in the future.
Here’s the statement from Anthony Santacroce, Public Information Officer for the City of San Diego:
“The City of San Diego removed five palms on Newport Avenue this morning at the direction of the FAA and the San Diego Airport Authority. The trees removed today presented an urgent threat to flight paths and aviation operations that impact public safety and the economic health of San Diego. We understand the community’s concern and thank them for their passion and understanding. With the help of the surrounding community, the City looks forward to planting new trees in place of the former palms that will continue to provide environmental benefits for years to come.”
Van De Walker disputes claims that the trees infringe on the flight path, and said her attorney has research backing that up. She tells CBS 8 she plans to continue taking legal action against the city.
Santacroce emailed CBS 8 the following PDF's the city says "provides justification and explanation for palm removal."
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