SANTA ANA : Root Trim Revives Tree Controversy

Tree trouble continues on Cabrillo Park Drive.

Residents who persuaded the city to abandon plans to remove 99 liquidambar trees from their street are again at odds with city officials, less than one week after both sides had agreed on how to save the trees.

Leaders of the 400-member Trees Living on Cabrillo Park Alliance, or TLC, accused city officials of violating the agreement by failing to tell them about a “root shaving” procedure that city crews began using on five of the trees Monday morning.

The procedure involves trimming the trees’ massive roots by up to half. The roots had caused extensive damage to sidewalks. TLC members contend that the five trees trimmed so far have been destroyed.


“Those trees don’t have a meaningful chance of survival,” said Alden Kelley, a consulting arborist called in by the residents. “All of those trees will be dead within two years if they don’t blow down before then. If I were in the position of personal liability for those trees, I’d have them removed. They pose a higher risk now than any of the sidewalks did before.”

City Maintenance Manager Larry Christian said the procedure was discussed with residents at a meeting held last week.

“I think this is a combination of overreaction and misunderstanding,” Christian said. “There’s going to be a certain amount of decline in the trees but we’re confident that they are going to come back and that we haven’t done any permanent damage.”

After being contacted by residents, Councilman Miguel A. Pulido Jr., who is advocating a stricter tree ordinance for the city, placed a call to City Manager David Ream on Tuesday morning and succeeded in getting all work on the trees halted until the City Council has the chance to review the entire procedure planned for each individual tree next month.


“We’ll do whatever it takes to try and save those trees,” Pulido said.