Newport council may speed up city's tree removal process

Many of the 50 eucalyptus trees lining a Corona del Mar street may soon be removed if the City Council waives its standard tree removal procedure Tuesday.

Prompted by the recent collapse of two large eucalyptus — including one that killed a motorist — the move would hasten the city's plans for roughly 300 trees throughout the city.

City officials have been scrambling since Sept. 14, when a blue gum eucalyptus toppled at the Newport-Costa Mesa border and killed 29-year-old Haeyoon Miller as she waited in her car at a stoplight. Arborists had been inspecting trees on city property, including some in Corona del Mar, when another fell during Wednesday's rainstorm. The street where it fell, Fourth Avenue, is lined with 50 gangly eucalyptus globulus, the blue gum variety.

"A significant number should come out — not immediately, but soon," City Manager Dave Kiff wrote in an email.

The city's standard tree policy requires a vote of the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission to authorize such a non-emergency removal, but officials are unsure if they can gather a quorum of commissioners by Thursday, when city officials have scheduled a public forum at the OASIS Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Ave., about removing and replacing the trees in Corona del Mar.

In other matters, the council will vote on paying for half of the dredging at the American Legion's Balboa Peninsula marina. The total project would cost $140,000 to dredge the marina, remove and replace piles, and temporarily relocate some structures.

American Legion Post 291 is on city-owned land, and the group has a long-term lease with the city.

The council will also vote on redistricted council boundaries and will discuss a potential ban on plastic shopping bags. In an April study session, the council declined to pursue the ban further, but Councilwoman Nancy Gardner requested it be considered again.

Twitter: @mreicher

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