Oak trees suspiciously poisoned

September 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police in El Cerrito are trying to find someone who is poisoning oak trees. They think the motive is beauty. El Cerrito has some killer views and someone apparently thought they were worth killing for.

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"I think this is a case where somebody is trying to either create a view or recreate a lost view," says El Cerrito Detective Sgt. Paul Keith.

El Cerrito police say someone has poisoned 13 oak trees. They did it by drilling holes in the trees, inserting the poison, and then plugging the hole with a wine cork.

"One of the holes I looked at is at least a foot deep. It's really going to the heart of the tree," says Sgt. Keith.

The trees are located in the city-owned hillside recreation area. The mistake they made was growing up right in between homes and a view of San Francisco.

"It seems like kind of a cowardly way to get what I wanted because nobody would let me have my way," says Sgt. Keith.

There is actually a lot of frustration in El Cerrito over trees and views. Homeowners used to be entitled to the view they had the day they bought their property, but the city council took that right away five years ago.

"We've been in our house for 43 years and when we bought the house we had the entire bay and both bridges," says resident Marylee Power.

Power's view of the Golden Gate Bridge is now blocked by eucalyptus trees and there's nothing she can do about it.

"It's very frustrating," says Power.

"Views are definitely a touchy subject in El Cerrito," says Sgt. Keith.

Yet people living in these hills can't quite imagine taking it to this extreme.

"I could never hurt an oak tree," says Power.

Police say the person who poisoned the oaks could face prison time. In El Cerrito, if you want a view, you have to learn to live with the trees.

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