Trees are nature’s giants. Second only to mountains, there is nothing on this planet that can grow larger than some trees. A tree can stand the test of time and keep the secrets of what they’ve experienced locked away in their rings. Trees provide homes for wildlife and we still depend on them for our own lumber and paper needs. These mighty giants help purify the air we breathe and bring a little bit of life into otherwise dull and grey cities. The problem comes when these trees outgrow their designated spots in our lives. In these instances, the trees are slated to go:

Four massive ficus trees in downtown Encinitas will be removed within the coming weeks, despite a neighborhood push to save the towering plants.

Public Works Director Glenn Pruim delivered that news during an emotion-packed community meeting Tuesday, saying the purpose of the gathering was to collect input on how to replace the trees — not to revisit the city’s decision to yank them.

Dozens of people said the targeted trees — two in the 600 block of Second Street and two in front of rental housing at 1011 Third Street — are an integral part of the neighborhood’s character and help soften the effects of noise from downtown bars and restaurants.

“We have been under siege for years … (removing the trees) is going to make it worse,” said Third Street resident Joe McNelley.

The trees must come down because they’re a safety hazard, Pruim said. He showed the crowd photographs of weakened spots on the trees, and of areas where nearby pavement was being pushed up by roots.

The City Council voted last month to go ahead with the removal work after facing threats of litigation from neighboring property owners and obtaining an arborist’s assessment that the four ficus pose a moderate to high safety risk.

On Tuesday, Pruim floated ideas on how the city might replace the trees, as well as any other of the 50 ficus spread throughout downtown that might one day need to be removed.

But tree supporters framed the discussion differently. They wanted to know why the city wasn’t fighting to save the four ficus trees and why the huge trees hadn’t been pruned in the past to prevent them from becoming hazardous.

“How come you didn’t do a better job, so this didn’t happen?” asked Jan Kalish, who lives several homes away from two of the four trees that are scheduled for removal.

Mike Palat of West Coast Arborists told her the trees were beyond recovery. Regular maintenance wasn’t the problem, but rather the way the trees were allowed to grow when they were very young.

“The structural issues that are there have been there 50 years,” he said.

Kalish and other tree supporters said they didn’t buy the argument that the trees were suddenly a safety hazard, saying they thought the pavement around the trees looked fine.

They reiterated that having huge trees downtown has enormous benefits, including providing wildlife habitat, absorbing pollution, offering shade for passing pedestrians, and helping to muffle late-night noise from the ever-increasing number of downtown bars and restaurants.


It seems these four giants have received the short end of the stick. They’re marked for removal, even though many are up in arms about it. Proper trimming,, could have helped with these issues. Prevention is the best medicine. However, we don’t own a Delorean or a TARDIS so there’s very little we can do about going back in time to try and prevent this outcome. The people who planted these trees all those years ago had good intentions, however controlling what nature does isn’t an easy task. These giants have done so much for their city and unless someone changes their mind, these trees are on notice.