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Giant ficus trees spared from removal, for now

The city has granted a temporary reprieve to four large, venerable ficus trees that had been scheduled to be cut down during the week of June 6-10.

The trees are located between the sidewalk and the curb, on city property, two in the 600 block of Third Street, and two in the 1000 block of Second Street. Property owners had approached the city because the trees’ roots had caused damage to underground utilities and sidewalks.

The trees were planted decades ago, and their leafy green canopies, which span 40 to 60 feet, provide cool shade for the streets and sidewalks below. But officials determined they should be cut down to prevent additional damage. The trees, due to their large root systems, should not have been planted so close to buildings, they said.

This week, however, Encinitas Public Works Director Glenn Pruim told his staff to hold off on cutting down the trees, so that a discussion could be held by the City Council’s Urban Forest Subcommittee.

There are as many as two dozen of the large ficus trees along downtown streets, said Pruim, and the subcommittee will consider an overall plan for their replacement.

“I wanted to take a pause and look at this holistically, rather than just removing these four trees,” he said.

While that process could take a while, he said, the city might have to act more quickly if an issue arises with damage being caused by one of the trees.

Residents have contacted this newspaper, concerned about the trees’ removal, both for aesthetic reasons and because of birds nesting in the trees.

If and when the ficus trees are cut down, the city plans to replace them with other, more suitable trees, officials said.


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