More Than 100 Trees Removed Today
As just about everyone on our part of the planet knows by now, this morning the City of Newport Beach, at the direction of City Manager Dave Kiff, commenced removing more than 100 Blue Gum Eucalyptus trees from the center median on Irvine Avenue from 17th Street/Westcliff Drive to 19th Street/Dover Drive. It was one of these trees that toppled last Thursday and crushed the car in which 29 year-old Haeyoon Miller was driving and killed her. You can read the most recent Daily Pilot article HERE.
MOST WERE REMOVED TODAY
The location of these trees is only a few blocks from my home, so I visited the site this afternoon to observe the removal. By the time I got there - around 2 p.m. - almost all of the trees had been chopped down and removed from the site. I suspect that all had been removed by the time the crews from West Coast Arborists finished for the day. According to one man from WCA with whom I spoke, they will be finished with the job by Thursday afternoon, including grinding the stumps of all the extracted trees.
GOOGLE LOOK AT THE "BEFORE" VIEW
Here's a view taken by a Google Earth flyby from their most recent archive of the area. You can get an idea of the scope of this project and a good idea of the size of the trees. The remainder of the photos are those I took this afternoon, which shows the extent of the demolition, the crews cutting down a tree, stumps being ground and Costa Mesa motorcycle officers standing-by to protect onlookers from injury.
NAGHAVI'S MEETING FOILED
At last night's City Council meeting I spoke briefly before it began with Peter Naghavi, then-Director of Public Works - now Interim Assistant CEO. He told me he had a meeting scheduled with Kiff in the morning to discuss the arborist's findings about the trees. He did not know at the time that Kiff had already made the decision to begin removing those trees first thing Wednesday, today. In fact, after the meeting began one member of the Costa Mesa Police Department present told me that Irvine Avenue was already blocked off.
FITZPATRICK FREAKS OUT
During the meeting Planning Commissioner and Sanitary District Director Jim Fitzpatrick - a fellow-Eastsider who lives only a few hundred feet from Irvine Avenue - addressed the council and, in an agitated state, complained that he shouldn't have to hear about the removal of the trees from the media - that he expected to get that information from our city first. While I don't disagree with him, all the parties who might have provided that information were attending the council meeting. That logic escaped him - no surprise.
KIFF'S LETTER TO MONAHAN
After I visited the site of the tree removal this afternoon I contacted Dave Kiff, who filled me in on what he felt was a very urgent situation based on consultation with four separate arborists. Their consensus was that all the potentially damaging trees should be removed immediately. He had communicated directly with Gary Monahan earlier today and sent me a copy of his 2-page letter outlining his reasoning. I've provided an image of that letter below. If you have difficulty reading the letter just click on each page.
NAGHAVI UNAVAILABLE TODAY
I was unable to reach Naghavi today to find out just what happened from the Costa Mesa standpoint. As indicated in Kiff's letter, a cooperative effort between Newport Beach and Costa Mesa to decide how to replace those trees will be undertaken soon. It is assumed that there will be resident input in this process.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST?
Unknown at this time is the fate of the several dozen trees of the same species that are presently growing along Irvine Avenue in Costa Mesa territory. My neighborhood, for example, was once 20 acres of sweet potatoes and was completely ringed by those trees, which were planted early in the century as wind rows to protect the farms from wind-blown erosion. It appears that most, but not all, are growing on private property. Many of them are in great need of thinning before winter, such as it is in these parts, sets in and we get soaked soil and wind storms.