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Lakeside may lose most of its Jacaranda trees on new county library site

The Jacaranda trees will have to be removed by April 9.

LAKESIDE, Calif. — As San Diego County builds a new library in Lakeside, 20 Jacaranda trees on the site are set to be cut down that were originally planted by volunteers.

Billy Ortiz helped Betty McMillen and a group called Mile of Trees planted 24 Jacaranda's trees 10 years ago.

"They've been here 10 years. My grandson and I helped plant the trees when they were three feet tall," Ortiz said. "It was funded by the Lakeside Garden Club."

They got permission from the owner since then the county bought the land and are building a new library and say the trees have got to go.

"I think 18 of them are in the easement but the county decided to cut them all down because a library project is going in," he said. 

Residents found out about the trees being cut down three weeks ago and asked the county if they could save some.

"They wouldn't bend, they wouldn't budge. We asked them, well can you save one and what about the ones on the side? And they said 'no no no!'"

So, Billy put the word out on Facebook.

"I figured I'd call the event hug a tree day. There were probably 15 - 16 people there, two people per tree saying goodbye because we love trees in Lakeside," Ortiz said. 

They also love the new library.

"We love how the library; they picked a perfect spot... we're really excited the new library is going in, we're just sad about the trees, that's all," he said. 

And for the memories the trees bring.

"When I look back at these trees it reminds me of me and my grandson planting them. We even have a before and after picture," Ortiz said. 

In a statement to News 8, the county said:

"The jacaranda trees will have to be removed by April 9 as they are within 50 feet of existing water lines, others interfere with the parking lot and number of spaces."

At this point, Ortiz knows he can't save most of the Jacarandas but he's hoping a few might survive.

"There are three trees on this side and three on the west side that are not in the easement. So, we don't understand why they wouldn't leave those that are not in the easement."

There was a meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening with the Lakeside Community Planning Group over the Jacaranda trees. 

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