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Balboa residents fight tree-cutting plan

November 23, 2000

Alex Coolman

BALBOA PENINSULA--Cyndi Doran has never thought of herself as a

tree-hugger.

But the Balboa Peninsula resident has become part of a campaign to

save a row of ficus trees on Main Street.

And even if she's not actively hugging the towering greenery, she's

giving it a virtual squeeze with a campaign of e-mailadvocacy.

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This is "the only beautiful aspect we have left" on the Peninsula, she

wrote in a recent e-mail to Councilman Tod Ridgeway. "Our 40-year-old

trees that canopy over the road."

The trees have been marked for the bark chipper as part of the Balboa

Village project to improve the area's looks and business prospects.

Dave Niederhaus, general services director for Newport Beach, said the

roots of the large trees are responsible for extensive sidewalk damage

and intrusion into sewer lines.

The Balboa Village project calls for long-term improvements to the

area, including fixing up roads and sidewalks. The city also had been

hoping to take care of the tree problem that led to the cracked

conditions in the first place.

In place of the mature trees, Niederhaus said, much younger

species--possibly palms or some kind of ornamental tree--would be

planted.

But Doran, along with some other residents, has raised two complaints.

First, she argues, young trees will not be as beautiful as the ones

that already are there.

And second, Doran said, not enough public review has been given to the

proposal to ax the greenery.

"The street is going to be so bare without trees," said Elaine

Linhoff, a Peninsula resident who also is trying to change the city's

plans. "It would take a long time to get the kind of canopy that we have

now."

Linhoff said the Peninsula Point Homeowners Assn. plans to meet

Saturday to discuss the issue and figure out what its position should be.

In response to the criticisms of its plans, the city onWednesday began

considering another option: trimming the roots of the trees in a way that

will allow them to stay without allowing them to wreck the roads.

It might seem like a smart compromise, but Niederhaus is far from

happy about it. He doesn't like the $165,000 price tag that would be

attached to protecting the ficus, and he doesn't like the fact that the

city is spending time and money to evaluate the idea.

"It's a terrible waste of money," he said. "Money that could be used

for other things is being spent on retaining trees that within six months

are breaking sidewalks."

An evaluation of the tree-saving approach should be ready within about

30 days, Niederhaus said.

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