PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — At least one person was arrested Tuesday after refusing to leave a section of Reed Park where 45 junipers were to be removed as part of a renovation project.
Police report that Sherry Ann Martini, a resident, was placed under arrest for trespassing, a misdemeanor, and booked at the Santa Monica Jail. She was released several hours later after posting $5,000 bail.
Martini told the Daily Press that her decision to sit under the junipers was the only way for her to convince City Hall to change course and keep the trees.
“I’ve attended City Council meetings to have my voice and those of my fellow treesavers heard,” she said. “I’ve tried writing letters. I’ve signed petitions. Nobody in the city … has tried to help.”
City officials said the junipers were to be removed because of concerns for public safety. Many of the trees were pruned to the point that they had lost structural integrity and had signs of ill health, said Community and Cultural Services Director Barbara Stinchfield. There were also concerns that the trees prevented police from having a clear line of sight into the park.
City officials plan to replace the trees with native plants that are drought resistant, increasing sustainability, Stinchfield said.
Officers gave Martini several chances to leave the area without being cited, but she refused. Officers also allowed her to call her husband on the phone to consult with him before her arrest, said SMPD Sgt. Jay Trisler.
Officers tried to convince Martini to protest the removal in a different manner that was not illegal, Trisler added.
Martini said the officers were polite.
However, she did complain that she was held for almost seven hours and believes the bail amount was too high.
“I can see why so many people are not willing to exercise their God-given right to protest peacefully if the process is to make the bail exceedingly high,” she said.