SAN DIEGO – San Diego city crews Monday removed five palm trees along an Ocean Beach roadway at the direction of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, citing public safety reasons.

The palms were removed by crews in the 4300 and 4400 blocks of Newport Avenue. They were targeted for removal by the airport authority for “(intruding) into the protected airspace for the San Diego International Airport,” and were requested to cut down to “avoid impacts to Airport operations,” a letter by the city to nearby residents shows.

It’s a move likely to stir up some neighbors in the community. Nearly two dozen people living in the area came out to protest last fall when a proposal to remove a total of eight palm trees was floated.

In the letter to residents, the city noted more trees were scheduled for “trimming or removal due to the airspace conflict,” but no action was taken on them Monday when the others were removed.

“Those trees will continue to be monitored and may also require removal in the future,” the city said.

Back in October, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the airport conducts a survey every five to 10 years to make sure no obstacles are interfering with navigation sensors pilots rely on to fly when visibility is low. In the most recent survey, officials determined eight palm trees in Ocean Beach and about a dozen others in the Bankers Hill area were obstructing the buffer zone and needed to be removed.

Last month, Dennis Probst, the airport authority’s vice president of development, wrote a letter to the city’s COO Jay Goldstone, confirming that five of the trees “constitute an obstruction” and required removal.

Others in the area are approaching the height where they could become an obstruction, Probst said, but they were not asked to removed “in consideration of recent community concern.”

“Instead, SDCRAA will continue to periodically survey these trees to determine whether and when removal is required and provide further direction to the City as necessary,” Probst wrote in the letter.

Judy Slaten, a neighbor who lives down the street from the palms, came out to protest Monday morning, where she said she was threatened with arrest if she stood in front of them.

“I’m upset that our city put out signs yesterday on a Sunday that this whole street was gonna be closed Monday through Friday from 7 to 4:30 p.m. and they didn’t tell anybody why,” Slaten said. “They didn’t deliver letters to the houses that they were cutting down the trees.

“Everybody called into the city and they said, ‘It has to do with the trees. They only have to provide 24 hours’ notice. They’ll be there tomorrow morning to cut down all the trees.”

Slaten was particularly angered by the decision as she and other neighbors are pursuing legal action against the city to keep the trees from being removed.

“They took down five trees today and they’ll be back all week to cut them all down,” she said. “They said they’re acting under an emergency order from the FAA and that they have to meet a quota and get all these trees down by the end of the month.”