Friday, February 23, 2024

Coronado Residents Rally to “Stop the Chop;” Protest Staged to Save Trees Slated for Removal

More than two dozen community members gathered Saturday morning to protest a Coronado City Council decision to remove five trees reportedly causing problems for the lawn bowling green. They marched with signs, gathered signatures for a petition, and crowded on the street corner to the honks and cheers of passersby. Some tied ribbons and decorative tags with messages on the trees, located at Seventh and D, adjacent to the lawn bowling green.

More than 20 community members rallied against city council’s decision to remove five trees.

The trees, one Torrey Pine and four Canary Island Pines, were slated to be removed by the city on Tuesday, September 12th. But they’re safe for now, after a lawsuit resulted in an emergency injunction last Thursday, barring the city from tearing them down.

“This is such an urgent issue in this community,” said Christine Mott, a local resident, mother of two and one of the lawsuit’s petitioners. “People tried to be heard, but the City Council didn’t listen. So we are doing everything we can, and that means legal action.”

Christine Mott stands with her two daughters, who hold signs protesting the tree removal.
X marks the spot. Mott says the Torrey Pine slated for removal is more than 100 years old, and is one of the rarest pine trees in North America.

The City Council originally voted to remove the trees on July 18th when more than two dozen members of the Coronado lawn bowling community expressed concerns at the city council meeting. They said that a puffball fungus growing in the tree roots was creating large, hard mounds, making parts of the bowling green unusable. Furthermore, they noted that the Canary Island Pines are actually on the city’s restricted tree list, due to their roots.

“The trees are diseased, and they need to come down,” said a lawn bowler watching the protest, who didn’t want to give his name. He said that he appreciated the civility of the protestors, but, like most of his fellow lawn bowlers, stands by the decision made by city council to remove the trees.

The Coronado Lawn Bowling Club has been in Coronado since 1935. Lawn bowlers gather several times a week to enjoy the sport and socialize.

But the protestors say the trees are healthy, and they’re more important than the artificial turf. Moreover, the Coronado City Council failed to follow state law, according to Mott.

“They didn’t inform everyone of the meeting before it happened and they rushed to this decision,” said Mott. “And they didn’t undertake the proper environmental studies they needed to reach a logical conclusion. They are in violation of environmental law and the California State Constitution.”

Residents stand in front of the Torrey Pine slated for removal.

The lawsuit further alleges that approving the trees’ removal while in violation of the law is an illegal misuse of public funds.

“Moreover, [the lawn bowlers] are a special interest group that has a financial relationship with the city; they rent this space from the city,” said Mott. “So [the city council members] are taking the side of a small, special interest group over the good folks of Coronado who have showed up in mass to say they want the trees to be saved.”

Coronado residents made signs in support of the trees.

Emily Jones, a Coronado resident, wildlife biologist and another one of the lawsuit’s petitioners, said she asked city officials if they had performed a “nesting survey.” To date, she has not received an answer.

“If you take down a tree in nesting season, and there is a nest and eggs, that will kill a complete line of birds,” she said. “If you don’t perform a nesting survey, you’re in violation of the law.”

Jones, who works all over San Diego performing such nesting surveys, says it’s important to have a nesting survey done by a biologist that’s not working for the tree cutting company.

She says she wants the trees to stay, but ultimately, will defer to expert opinions of the scientists.

“If all scientists come together, and say they gave to come down, I will go along with it,” said Jones. “But you have to do the environmental review. You have to follow the law.”

The next hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for October 13th.


Lawsuit Filed Against Coronado for Removal of Canary Island and Torrey Pine Trees

Council Will Reconsider Removing Four Canary Island Pines on D Ave; Torrey Pine Still Slated for Removal


Christine Van Tuyl
Christine Van Tuyl
Christine was born and raised in Texas, but moved to Coronado with her family as a teen in 1993. Although initially horrified by surfers, flannels and skateboards, she ultimately grew to love all things So-Cal. A graduate of UCSD, Christine got her first writing job on the KUSI ten o’clock news while simultaneously juggling a reporter position at the San Diego Community News Group. She worked as a public relations professional, a book editor, real estate professional, and a freelance writer before eventually succumbing to motherhood in 2008.A decade later, Christine resurfaced to start the Island Girl Blog, a Coronado lifestyle blog. In addition, she writes a monthly page for Crown City Magazine. Christine loves hanging out with her husband, Ian, and their two spirited daughters, Holland and Marley, who attend Village Elementary and Coronado Middle School. When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga, spilling coffee at school drop off, meeting friends for sushi, or sailing the Bay with her family and English Bulldog, Moshi. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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