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Protesters Tie Themselves to Trees in Bid to Save Them

On Monday, Manuel Montanez stood up for a tree--actually, 18 trees.

Driving to work, he noticed a tall ficus being chopped down by a city crew. When he learned that as part of a beautification project 18 mature ficus trees lining San Fernando Road were being cut down, he acted immediately.

Montanez blocked workers by standing in front of a second tree and called for family and friends to join him by tying themselves to other trees to save them as well.

By noon about 14 people were tied to the 34-year-old trees and large signs reading “Save Our Trees” were posted along the street.

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City Administrator John Ornelas said the city was removing the ficus trees because roots are ruining the sidewalks. Tulipifera trees, a less damaging species, are scheduled to be planted.

One city councilman questioned Montanez’s motives, accusing him of seeking publicity for his daughter, Cindy Montanez, a candidate in the March 2 City Council election.

“It’s a political play to get media attention for a candidate who is on a sinking ship,” said Councilman Silverio Robledo, who is not up for reelection.

But Montanez said: “These are beautiful trees. There’s nothing wrong with them.”

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Ornelas put the tree removal on hold Monday afternoon and said officials plan to meet with Montanez and his group to work on a compromise.


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