DANA POINT — A tri-level tree house with three rooms, an aquarium and views of the Pacific Ocean that was uncovered Wednesday, Feb. 7 inside the dense crown of a 50-foot-tall Aleppo pine tree in Lantern Bay Park, has raised concerns among city officials that the structure may have weakened limbs and could pose a risk to public safety.
“The city has asked West Coast Arborists Inc. to see if there was significant damage in terms of walking under the tree and worrying about a limb falling in a public place,” Orange County Sheriff’s Sgt. Rich Himmel said.
City crews spent several extra hours cleaning out the tree house and hauling away debris. At the time, Himmel said it would likely cost several thousand dollars to cover the expense of crews removing the structure and that there would need to be a review of what damage was done to the tree.
Himmel, one of the first on scene during the tree house reveal, said belongings left behind have given investigators a good idea of who lived in the tree house. However, he said that since the tree house was unoccupied at the time of the discovery and no one witnessed the tree house being built, it might be difficult for criminal charges to be filed.
So far, the homeless man the Sheriff’s Department suspects occupied the tree house has not been located, Himmel said.
The Aleppo pine is now trimmed and dramatically more sparse. Typically, the pine and other city trees are trimmed and thinned every two years.
Many in Dana Point are surprised no one observed the construction process.
“The ability to do it in a way that was shielded from public…