Hearing set over trees

To save some trees near her home, a longtime Costa Mesa resident is taking the city to court.

Earlier this month, Kimberly DeBroux, 59, filed paperwork in Orange County Superior Court that has effectively halted, for the time being, the removal of seven trees in the public right-of-way by her Yukon Avenue home.

DeBroux, a 37-year Costa Mesa resident, contends that the court should overrule the Parks and Recreation Commission's decisions in January and February to remove the Canary Island pine trees.

"The trees' majestic beauty and aromatic wood transports one to the mountains, which is what the developer must have had in mind when he planted the trees some 30 years ago and named the streets Klondike and Yukon," DeBroux states in her March 10 court documents, which include a Wikipedia encyclopedia page about the species.

She also wrote that the trees are in good health, do not pose a public safety hazard and that dozens of residents along Yukon and nearby streets signed a petition to see them saved.

When ordering the removal of the pines, the commission went against its own directives to increase and improve Costa Mesa's neighborhood tree inventories, DeBroux wrote.

"The associated impacts of the trees are affecting, disproportionately, a small number of the residents in this neighborhood but have a larger positive aesthetic impact for the 132 homes that are accessed via Yukon Avenue, the only access road into the tracts," she wrote.

Costa Mesa's attorney, James Touchstone of Jones & Mayer, in his opposition, stated that residents affected by the trees in question asked City Hall for their removal last year.

The residents contend that the pines have presented some safety issues and damaged a property wall and landscaping with their roots.

The trees are invasive, Touchstone wrote, have "excessive" needle and cone litter, prevent some sunlight and attract rats, crows, spiders and opossums.

He also wrote that DeBroux "disingenuously points to only very scant evidence supporting her position, while completely disregarding the overwhelming evidence in support of the [commission's] decision."

Furthermore, Touchstone wrote, DeBroux "has not provided the court with any allegations or any evidence to demonstrate that she is 'beneficially interested' in the removal of the [trees] adjacent to another property owner's home. Petitioner states that she is a resident of Costa Mesa and that she likes the appearance of the trees."

A hearing about the matter is tentatively scheduled for April 3 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Bruce Hartley, Costa Mesa's maintenance services manager, said city staff will still do some maintenance work on the pines until the matter is resolved.

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