kensington

Residents Fight to Save Century-Old Kensington Pepper Trees

Protesters gathered Tuesday and Wednesday to voice their opposition against the removal

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A small gathering of peaceful protesters gathered on the corner of Alder and Marlborough drives in Kensington on Tuesday to continue a years-long effort to save pepper trees in the San Diego neighborhood.

Several of the trees along Marlborough Drive were supposed to be removed last week, but people intentionally parked where the city had posted no parking signs, preventing city crews from getting to the trees.

The removal was postponed only temporarily, however, the city told NBC 7.

Stephanie Wells wasn’t part of the small protest, but she is one of many who feel strongly about the trees.

"Why pick on the 110-year-old pepper trees?" Wells said. "Once those are killed, there’s no opportunity for them to ever come back.”

Wells told NBC 7 that the reason she moved to Kensington was for the charm and maturity of the neighborhood, of which the trees are part.

Catherine Pattingill, another Kensington resident,  said she hopes the trees can be saved but recognizes the reasoning.

 "I don't have one in front of my house so it’s easier for me to say, 'Keep them,' because they're not making my sidewalks messy," Pattingill said. "My dogs aren't eating the seeds and they’re not ruining my sidewalks."

Protesters are once again gathering pepper trees in Kensington in an effort to save them from being chopped down by the city.

Harmon Huff, a Kensington resident since 1988, was part of the protest.

 "We want to know what they've gone through to arrive at this particular compromise, to take out these three vital living trees that have been here for 110 years," Huff said. "My wife walked under those trees when she was a little girl. Our kids walked under those trees."

Tamara Beus stopped during her walk to see what the signs were all about.

"They’re beautiful," Beus said about the pepper trees. "And I’m not sure what the deal is as far as how much trouble they’re causing, but it doesn't seem like there’s much sidewalk damage here or anything. I hope they don't do it."

On Wednesday, the fight continued as community members gathered around the trees to voice their opinions.

“To me, these are not a threat," Kensington resident Sonia Hynick said. "They are not obstructing the right of way on the street or on the sidewalk and I think the city has bigger things to do right now.”

“These trees are part of the neighborhood," Maggie McCann, also from Kensington, added. "They’ve been here longer than any of the houses and we all appreciate them."

A representative with the city of San Diego, Arian Collins, told NBC7 that a few of the trees on Marlborough were deemed unsafe.

“City staff asks that residents abide by any no-parking signs in order for its contractor to perform tree trimming and tree removals throughout the city in a safe manner for both crews and residents,” Collins said in a statement.

Last year, the group working to protect the trees was granted a restraining order preventing the city from cutting one of them down. The city has said the trees slated for removal are decaying and damage the sidewalks.

Wells said the city should have other priorities.

"If they’re really worried about our community, deal with, like, real community issues like the amount of crime taking place,” Wells said.

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