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SANTA ANA : Council Delays Plan to Remove 132 Trees

The 132 liquidambar trees that line both sides of Cabrillo Park Drive have escaped the city’s ax--at least for now.

The city had planned to remove 99 of the trees next month because their roots had caused severe damage to neighborhood sidewalks. But residents upset over the prospect of losing the 25-year-old trees persuaded the City Council this week to halt the plans so they could meet with city officials and explore alternative solutions.

City Manager David N. Ream, who called the liquidambars “my favorite trees in the whole city,” said they were the wrong trees to plant along Cabrillo Park Drive because their roots are fighting for space with other landscaping.

“You’re better off taking those trees out, although they’re absolutely beautiful,” Ream said.

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But council members sided with the residents, who said they wanted to find a better solution than the city’s.

“Whenever someone tells me that there’s no other way, I suspect that there is another way,” said Councilman Miguel A. Pulido Jr., who said the city is sometimes too quick to remove trees.

Two options already being discussed are constructing a meandering sidewalk, which would wind around trouble areas caused by the roots, and replacing trees that must be removed with another type of tree that wouldn’t cause damage.

“I really think the voice of the people has been heard,” said resident Paula Cobb, who collected 169 signatures on petitions in support of saving the trees.

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“I was afraid that we would be looked at like a bunch of emotional, bleeding-heart liberals,” she said, “but the council really responded to us.”

Many of the residents told the council that the trees were one of the biggest reasons they moved to the neighborhood.

“Those trees are gorgeous and vibrant,” resident Terri Brint Joseph said. “In the fall, the leaves turn beautiful orange and yellow, and it looks like a scene from New England.

“They give us a real sense of the passing season.”

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