Flintridge residents appeal oak removal

Glendale News Press

Two Padres Trail residents are fighting to save a 50-foot-tall oak tree that they say is a signature feature of the neighborhood.

The tree, marked for removal by a city-contracted arborist for safety reasons, is rooted in the public right-of-way at 1240 Padres Trail, in front of the home of 39-year residents Bill and Elaine Falkenhainer.

The oak's co-dominant trunk, or split trunk, poses safety risks, arborist Rebecca Mejia said in an April report.

"The weight of the canopy is too massive, and at some point the pressure being exerted against each other will cause the stems to fail," Mejia said.

The Falkenhainers and their two privately contracted arborists disagreed, however. They argue the oak is healthy, supported by a cable installed by the city many years ago. In addition, two large stems that extend over the street could be removed, thus saving the rest of the tree.

"Obviously the tree is very healthy; it has all kinds of [new growth] all over it," Elaine Falkenhainer said. "Why kill it? It is just stupid to remove the whole thing. It is like instead of removing a hangnail, you take off a hand."

An additional, independent arborist hired by the city agreed that the tree could be preserved.

"Given the health and aesthetic quality of this oak tree, it is worth the extra effort to support the structure by bolting through the lower trunk and adding some cable supports in the crown," arborist Craig Crotty said.

The tree is one of seven oaks on the Falkenhainers' half-acre property.

"We have probably 30, 40 people walking up and down this street every day," Bill Falkenhainer said. "And they all comment on the street and the trees."

The Falkenhainers said they will do just about anything to keep the tree.

"I would even be willing to indemnify them against any potential losses," Bill Falkenhainer said.

City Manager Mark Alexander said staff carefully considered the information available, but public safety takes precedent over aesthetic concerns.

"I understand Mr. Falkenhainer's disappointment at staff's determination, but our arborist has noted that trees with extensive decay in trunks and branches are not candidates for cable and brace systems," Alexander said.

The appeal is scheduled to go before the City Council on July 19.

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