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Residents Could Be Fined Up To $25K A Day Over Beloved Tree In Santa Monica

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SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — The city of Santa Monica is threatening to fine the owners of a nearly 100-year-old eucalyptus tree up to $25,000 a day if the tree isn’t chopped down.

The largest eucalyptus deanei in the country, which is located on 24th Street, is owned by Faith and Harry Rumack.

For the past 25 years, they’ve cared for and admired the 125-foot tree.

“It was planted 100 years ago by the native Santa Monicans and is a landmark in our community,” said Faith.  “It feels like one of our children. I know it sounds weird, but it’s very sentimental to us.”

Several days ago, the Rumack’s received a letter from the city that said the tree has to come down by Sept. 15 or they will be slapped with fines from $5,000 to $25,000 a day.

Walt Warriner, a Santa Monica community forester and tree expert, said he made the decision after three limbs fell from the tree in a three week period.

At more than 2,000 pounds, one of the limbs crushed a neighbor’s car.

Warriner said the tree may look healthy on the outside, but two of the branches showed signs of decaying and he doesn’t want to risk someone getting hurt.

“We live under the tree. We always park our cars there. When my children were little, their play equipment was right there,” said Harry.

The Rumack’s said it seems unfair that a tree that has spent its life in their front yard will be taken away from them in days.

“We’re all just devastated. We’re distraught. I don’t want to go into that because I’ll start crying again,” said Faith.

The eucalyptus tree has been written about in numerous books, including a book titled, “Trees of Santa Monica.”

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