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Neighbors clash with city on removal of Torrey pine in Ocean Beach

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SAN DIEGO – Several residents were angered Monday morning as they watched crews remove a 73-year-old Torrey pine in Ocean Beach.

Earlier this month, city officials said the tree at 4652 Saratoga Ave. was in danger of falling, but opponents contended the city hadn't adequately explained why it had to be taken down.

Read MoreCity suspends removal of Torrey pine in Ocean Beach

The city of San Diego then put off its plan to remove the Torrey pine after an Ocean Beach woman climbed the tree  and stayed there to prevent the removal attempt.

"We originally had scheduled this tree removal for August 5th and then we took another try on August 12th.  The longer were waited the more of a risk this was that it could fail," said Jeremy Barrick, the City of San Diego's Urban Forestry Planning Manager, “

Community members later suspended their fight to save the tree after consulting an independent arborist who concluded the tree is not healthy enough to be saved.

"We trust him. He said it needs to come down and so we trust him. We are all okay with that,” said Jamie Holcomb who lives on Saratoga Avenue.

However, others in the community still disagree with the removal.

“The failing condition of the tree is directly as a result of the neglect, improper maintenance and the unqualified tree service that was subcontracted through the City of San Diego,” Friends of Peninsula Trees – a recently formed non-profit group – said in a press release.

According to the City's Master Arborist, the tree trunk will be sculpted into benches around the city along with other pieces of art. Crews will also leave pieces of the trees to residents along the street.

The Torrey pine was adjacent to two other large Torrey pine trees which were removed after one of this winter’s El Niño storms caused them to uplift and actively fail.

“The city really needs to be careful with how they are trimming them as well," said Holcomb who has a Torrey Pine Tree directly in front of her home.

As part of its plan to address the impacts of climate change, the city is completing an assessment of its tree inventory and is set to embark on a tree planting program to increase the canopy in San Diego neighborhoods.

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