CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — Crews began cutting down the trademark Torrey pine trees at the Cardiff branch of the San Diego County Library on Jan. 22. Within two days, there was little evidence that the three massive trees ever existed.
Jose Aponte, county library director, said that the trees are infested with red turpentine bark beetles and are a public safety hazard because their dry limbs could fall.
“We’re afraid that someone could be hurt,” Aponte said. A foreman from Bishops’ Tree Service said that safety was at issue. “These are dead,” he said pointing to the two trees situated to the east along Liverpool Drive. “That one is on its way,” he said, indicating the largest of the trees with a nod of his head.
The trees will be replaced with a garden of coastal plants. In conjunction with Quail Botanical Gardens, the office of county Supervisor Pam Slater-Price is paying for the new addition. “A garden will be nice, “Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident Jane Dirksen said. Dirksen sat reading a story to her toddler inside the library as chainsaws cut through the remaining tree trunks Jan. 23. “It’s a shame to see the magnificent trees be cut down and all of the life that they’ve supported over the years go with them,” she said.
Initial plans to take down the trees two years ago sparked discussion of how the Torrey pines might be saved. The county has spent $10,000 on consultants in an attempt to save the trees according to Aponte. A certified arborist implemented a twice-monthly nourishment program, aerated the soil around the roots and changed the irrigation system. Despite those efforts, the trees’ health declined, Aponte said.
The Friends of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library hired a tree-rescue specialist, George Hahn, but his worm-casting treatments could not revive the trees. “We tried to save them if it was possible,” president Susan Hays said. Group members are excited by the prospect of a new garden while still mindful of the purpose that the trees served.
According to Hays, the library’s original architect drew inspiration from the existing trees in designing the ecologically friendly library.
“It isn’t the end of the world but it’s one more change in a community that has seen a lot of changes over the years,” said Dan Davis, a Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident. “I’m sure a lot of the older people who’ve lived here all their lives say that with every new building that goes up and every tree that comes down.”