COSTA MESA : Problematic Trees Will Be Replaced

Molokai Place was first. And Gibraltar Avenue, just around the corner, could be next.

Some trees in Costa Mesa are starting to destroy sidewalks, leaving city officials with no choice but to cut down Mother Nature for the sake of preserving the infrastructure.

About 16 Brazilian pepper trees were cut down this week along Molokai Place--and now residents in the old section of Mesa Verde are trying to come to a consensus on which trees to plant in their place.

The American gum tree, the top contender, will be considered for approval tonight at 6:30 by the Parks, Recreation Facilities and Parkways Commission at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.


“The Brazilian pepper tree was a beautiful thing, but living with it was a complication,” resident Frank Pap said. “It dropped leaves all the time, and it had these little red berries that could ruin the paint on your car. And I’ve got bills to prove it.”

But most of all, the roots to the pepper tree were too shallow and beginning to cause noticeable cracks in the sidewalks and gutters--much like the ficus trees are doing along Gibraltar, except on a smaller scale.

The city decided to give them the ax and replace them with jacarandas.

Pap and fellow residents last week had a petition opposing the jacaranda and offering the American gum tree as an alternative.


The gum tree turns colors in the fall, has fewer leaves than the jacaranda, and stays bare for about a month--the type of quality residents along Molokai Place are looking for in their arbor.

The magnolia is also being mulled over as a possible replacement.

“That pepper tree, at least the one I had, used to have white leaves that people would track into the house,” said resident Ron Barnett, who stood at the curb pointing out the cracks in the gutter.

“Each tree has its problems, that’s just life,” Pap quipped.


Dave Alkema, the Costa Mesa’s parks superintendent, said the American gum trees, if planted, will resemble those growing in the median in front of Orange Coast College on Fairview Road.

“We (the city) feel it’s a suitable tree,” he said.

Some of the trees will turn from green to red or yellowish-brown or burgundy, depending on the species.