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A bull's-eye for tree supporters

Signs urging City Council to spare Main Street eucalyptus may not have influenced vote, but for relieved residents, a victory is a victory.

July 25, 2012|By Michael Miller

Sandy Jarema returned from a Fourth of July outing to find a pair of bull's-eyes posted on the large eucalyptus tree in front of her house.

From a distance, the symbols might have looked like threats, but a quick look showed that they were posted out of love and support.

The larger sign, with white, black, blue, red and yellow rings, read, "The city of HB is cutting this tree down — Killing this tree — Complain to Mayor Don Hansen."

The smaller sign, directly to its left, had a nearly identical message.

Jarema has no idea who posted the signs, but she felt like she could understand their frustration.

"They don't want it to become like Irvine, sterile," she said. "And these big trees make Main Street — the fact that it's a California native tree, and it's an old tree. For people who live real close, it provides shade and beauty. Sunrise and sunset through the trees is really gorgeous."

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Now, it looks like those celestial moments will stick around a while. The City Council, at its July 16 meeting, voted to amend an April decision by the Beautification, Landscape and Tree Committee to remove 17 trees along Main Street. Among those trees was the giant eucalyptus in front of Jarema's house at 1751 Main St.

Councilwoman Connie Boardman, who asked the council to vote on sparing the tree, said she had originally favored removing it because she had heard that the tree's roots were damaging a nearby home. Later, though, she learned that the resident had not provided evidence of damage and that the problem was "speculative."

Boardman said she hadn't seen the bull's-eye signs until after the council voted on the issue. She noted that other trees along Main Street had sported the signs as well.

"I've visited other large cities where they have been able to maintain beautiful specimen trees, so I know it's possible, and I wanted us to look at at least trying that here," Boardman said.

The council ultimately voted 6 to 1 to spare the tree, with Hansen dissenting.

Councilman Joe Carchio said during the meeting that he wanted to preserve the tree for historic reasons. Although the city has no documentation on the tree's age, some believe it to be a century old or more.

Public Works Director Travis Hopkins said staff is working on a design that would create a smoother ramp over the 15-inch bulge in the sidewalk caused by the tree's roots. The city also plans to extend the curb outward about six feet to accommodate the roots.

The removal of the other 16 trees will likely take place in August, Hopkins said.

michael.miller@latimes.com

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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