The protest began Monday after crews arrived and cut down two of the large eucalyptus trees that line E Avenue. Daniel Stewart climbed a tree at about 7 a.m. to prevent crews from sawing it down. His neighbor, Ryan Gillespie, climbed another tree several hours late. The men said they and other neighbors were upset that the city had decided to remove the trees in a closed-door session without community input.
Stewart said that Mayor Casey Tanaka climbed up in the tree and spoke with him on Monday. The mayor explained that the City Council had decided to remove the trees because of complaints that the trees presented a hazard from falling limbs.
"The mayor and I spoke yesterday evening, and we both shared our perspectives and our concerns and had a candid conversation, and he gave me assurances that we, the citizenry, would be involved in the process of how we proceed with the trees," he said. "Based on that assurance and based on the fact that the decision was made this morning not to cut, I felt that reasonable men are reaching a reasonable compromise here."
Stewart said that it was likely that at least one of the trees slated for removal will have to come down because of safety concerns, but the residents felt it was important that they are involved in the decision-making process.
Stewart, who has lived on the street for 16 years, said the big trees are important to residents because of their stately beauty and the shade they give.