The City Council has voted to remove 42 eucalyptus trees infested with the Australian eucalyptus beetle borer, an insect that drains sap through holes in the trees’ bark.
The trees have lined Jean Lacouague’s 5-acre property on San Juan Creek Road since he planted them in 1939 to help protect citrus and walnut trees on his family ranch, the San Juan Capistrano native said. But the insects have destroyed the trees beyond salvage and they must be taken down.
Lacouague wanted to remove the trees in 1987 because their disease posed a costly liability when branches fell onto San Juan Creek Road during storms. In order to preserve the trees, the city agreed that year to be responsible for those costs.
But on Tuesday, the council unanimously agreed to remove the trees, end the 2-year-old agreement, and reimburse Lacouague for up to $1,000 in personal legal fees that he has incurred to have the trees removed.
Lacouague said he will replace the trees with 41 California live oaks, 65 Canary Island pines, and 50 oleanders along his property.