Trees to be planted at Encinitas sports park


Thirteen trees will be planted at an Encinitas park after the city council voted unanimously on March 22 in favor of adding the trees.

The 15-gallon Tristania trees — which were first discussed last fall as a way to allow for a soccer club to resume using temporary lights to illuminate the soccer field and pave the way for permanent lights — will be planted beginning next month on both sides of the baseball field slopes at Leo Mullen Sports Park, 951 Via Cantebria, to help block lighting from the nearby soccer field.

The new trees will cost the city $2,275 to purchase and plant, and $,1300 per year to trim, maintain and water annually for six years.

The agreement for the lights at Leo Mullen — which reopened in September with an artificial turf field — came in November after the council told the Encinitas Express soccer club earlier that year that it had to remove the gas-powered portable lights that it had been using in the park for 13 years.

The temporary lights installed at the soccer field spurred debate between the soccer club and surrounding homeowners from the adjacent Cambria at Encinitas Ranch neighborhood, who argued over putting up permanent lights at Leo Mullen. It was discovered during that process that the Encinitas Ranch Specific Plan (ERSP) prohibited lights at the park.

Most of those issues were worked out in October when the council agreed to amend the ERSP and pushed through applications for the proper permits for permanent lights at the park. The council at that meeting also directed staff to go forward with a tree-planting plan and a plan for installation of locking gates.

Then-Mayor Kristin Gaspar said it would likely take at least a year and a half to receive state approval for the lights because the fields are next to a natural habitat and are within the state commission’s coastal review zone, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Council member Tasha Boerner Horvath proposed the idea of using shade cloth in the meantime to provide shade while the trees are maturing.

Jennifer Campbell, the city’s parks and recreations director, said that idea can be explored, but the Tristania trees grow rather fast and will be planted by mid-April.