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Newport parks commission weighs removing some of Balboa Island’s eucalyptus trees

Balboa Island trees
Mature eucalyptus trees line the northern end of Marine Avenue, near the bridge connecting Balboa Island to mainland Newport Beach.
(Daily Pilot)

The Newport Beach Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission plans to take the next major step Tuesday in the process arborists have recommended to remove several of the iconic, but apparently struggling, eucalyptuses on Balboa Island’s Marine Avenue.

The commission, which typically handles public tree removal and replanting requests, will consider uprooting nine living eucalyptuses that the city has deemed to be damaged, decaying and in the worst condition of the 40 shading Marine Avenue, the island’s main drag of mom-and-pop shops and cafes.

The city already plans to remove a dead, brown tree in the 300 block of Marine Avenue, outside Abrams Coastal Properties, but that has not yet been felled.

City landscaping staff will ask the parks commission to approve removing four of the 10 trees — including the dead one — in September. The commission also will discuss whether the other six should receive advanced health and stability testing before being removed. If those trees are ultimately set to be culled, they would be cut down in January.

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The trees would be replaced with young eucalyptuses standing about 8 to 10 feet tall, the city says.

The proposed removals follow the recommendation of Newport’s staff arborist. However, another arborist working for the city put forth a more dire scenario, saying that 27 of the mature eucalyptus trees need to come out.

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Neighbors have pushed back hard, saying the towering trees are part of what makes the tight-knit island charming and should be protected. The Balboa Island Preservation Assn. has retained three arborists itself, and their conclusions conflict with the city’s. One of the preservation group’s experts said only three of the trees should come down.

The fate of the Marine Avenue trees would ultimately be up to the City Council, should anyone appeal the parks commission’s decisions.

Tuesday’s commission meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.

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