A fight to save century-old trees in Kensington heated up when a judge granted a temporary restraining order for residents against the city of San Diego.
Kensington resident Maggie McCann told NBC 7 that she and a group of her neighbors had been working to designate the neighborhood's pepper trees as heritage trees for the last year but said the city had been uncooperative.
On Monday, when one pepper tree on Edgeware Road was removed, McCann felt blindsided and jumped into action.
"The trees have been here since 1910. They've been part of the historic fabric and we want to keep them," McCann said.
She lives down the street from where the tree was removed and is now fighting to keep the pepper tree in front of her home alive. She, along with a group, filed a temporary restraining order against the city of San Diego.
She tied it around that tree and several others marked with an “x,” presumed to be labeled for future removal.
"All we could think and it’s conjecture on my part, that they’re trying to clear the slate for undergrounding so we don't have the historic trees to use to say, ‘hey you people need to take some care when you're undergrounding. You can’t just put those boxes wherever you want,'" McCann said.
In a statement, city of San Diego spokesperson Anthony Santacroce told NBC7 that was not the case.
"The pepper tree in front of 4639 Edgeware Road was evaluated more than a year ago as part of a project to repair a damaged and uneven sidewalk caused by the tree’s growth. Noticeable decay and deteriorating tree structure were also observed during the evaluation and the adjacent property owner was notified at that time. With the sidewalk repair imminent, the tree was removed yesterday by the City.
Safety and sustainability are among the City of San Diego’s highest priorities. In this instance, the imperative to make the sidewalk safer for residents was weighed against the City’s desire to preserve neighborhood trees and continue to grow our urban canopy. Due to the tree’s damaging impact to the adjacent sidewalk and its decaying state, the decision was made to remove it in order to preserve public safety.
We appreciate the community’s diligence and share their passion when it comes to preserving the character and unique aesthetics of the neighborhood, and look forward to working with the community and council office to be responsible stewards of these trees while also keeping public safety paramount."
For now, the tree removal is at a standstill until the city heads back to court to respond to the restraining order in early February.
The city did not officially comment on what’s next for the trees marked with an “x.”
"It removes 141 pounds of carbon annually from the air. So it’s doing its job. I think the city should do theirs and plant more trees and stop cutting down mature trees," McCann added.