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La Jolla Park & Rec board not removing trees ... for now

park-rec-tree-1.jpg
The so-called ‘leaning tree’ once slated for removal will remain until a master plan for the La Jolla Rec Center, with landscaping plan, can be drafted.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The La Jolla Recreation Advisory group (LJRAG) is taking a step back from its plan to remove and replace trees from the front yard of the La Jolla Rec Center, in favor of producing a master plan for the whole facility that includes landscaping.

The board previously sought to remove certain trees from the frontage because they were considered unmanageable, unsafe or were planted incorrectly.

Visioning Committee chair Jill Peters explained at the June 26 LJRAG meeting: “We are working on a master plan for the front, interior and back areas. We are going to come up with the master plan before we remove any trees. That master plan is going to include planning for the future, what types of trees will be best for those areas, working to accent the beautiful façade, etc.”

She added local landscape architects have volunteered renderings for the area that the Visioning Committee is looking over. “These plans take into consideration the potential uses of the building as well as architectural elements, and incorporating our ideas for the back area and the interior,” Peters said.

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The idea to replace trees started last year when the board took up the so-called “leaning tree” adjacent the walkway leading to the Irving Gill meeting room. The tree was planted as part of the 2015 Centennial ceremony, and began leaning toward the building soon after.

In spring of this year, the board changed course, and opted to focus on a Star Pine tree near the Draper Avenue and Prospect Street corner of the front lawn.

The 60-foot Star Pine, planted and donated by the Sunrise Rotary in 1984, has become too large and expensive to decorate. Further, the top of the tree has split into four “leaders” and arborists and developers have opined that has weakened the top of the tree, and branches could break.

However, before anything could be replaced, the City asked the board to find an arborist who could declare the trees are “unsafe” and therefore merit removal.

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At the LJRAG May meeting, Pine Valley arborist Michael Shoenfeld reported the leaning tree and the Star Pine should be removed, as well as a palm tree with a hole in the upper trunk of the tree, which he said could snap in half and fall.

He filed a report with the board and the City for consideration.

Speaking to the arborist’s report, Peters said: “We decided it was difficult for the community to understand why we would remove trees without a plan to green it up more than it is now. So we are working on that and waiting for the master plan (before we remove anything).”

— La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group next meets 5 pm. Wednesday, July 24 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.


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