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O.C. officials seek replacement for 100 eucalyptus trees

December 7, 2011 | 12:22 pm

Newport Beach and Costa Mesa city officials are expected on Wednesday night to choose a replacement for the 100 eucalyptus trees that were removed after one 80-year-old tree fell and fatally crushed a woman.

City arborists and landscape architects recommend a mix of date palms, African tulip trees, grasses, aloes and shrubs, according to a report prepared for the joint meeting between the Newport Beach and Costa Mesa parks commissions.

The street's median was denuded in September, when city officials removed about 100 blue gum eucalyptus trees, the Daily Pilot reported.

Some were higher than 60 feet and more than 80 years old, making a distinctive feature for that part of Newport-Mesa. Officials, challenged to find a replacement with such presence, say they support the recommendations.

"It's going to give us tons of color and variety," said Ernesto Munoz, Costa Mesa interim public services director. "Hopefully, we'll end up with that character we had on Irvine [Avenue]."

A report prepared for the meeting says the plants were chosen for their "heartiness, color and ease of maintenance." The landscaping would also be drought-tolerant, and would require less water than the eucalyptus, gazania and juniper plants that filled the stretch between Westcliff and Dover drives, it says.

The recommended date palms would be spaced 50 feet apart, Munoz said, with the African tulip trees interspersed. City staff members chose the best-performing species recently planted in the Superior Avenue median, on Westcliff Drive, and on East Coast Highway in Corona del Mar.

While the trees will not be as large as their predecessors, they will "over the years ... be a significant aesthetic statement for the median," according to Newport Beach spokeswoman Tara Finnigan.

"You're not going to end up with a bunch of sticks out there," Munoz said of Irvine Avenue.

-- Mike Reicher, Times Community News