"This kind of destruction, blatant destruction, just puts another concrete spot in," Rocklin City Council candidate Mike Mattos said.
Community groups have been battling with the city for several years, trying to stop a developer from building an apartment complex on a 10-acre lot at the corner of Sierra College and Rocklin Road.
"Over the last three years, we've been fighting a lawsuit against the city and this developer here," Chris Wiegman, president of the community group Citizen's Voice, told FOX40.
The parcel of land has gone untouched for years, until Monday night when residents came out to find dozens of logs cut down already, despite a pending lawsuit.
"They've started to demolish about 400 trees on this beautiful corner lot," Wiegman said.
The trees, neighbors say, are home to wildlife.
"The beauty of this area is all the nature and the natural habitat," Mattos said. "We get deer down in our neighborhood. We have all kinds of animal activity."
They say cutting down the grove of oak trees will degrade their quality of life, as well.
"We've thrown away our master plan. We've let them put homes in areas that were zoned commercial. And now we have a bunch of developments in this area where we all live," Mattos told FOX40.
A spokeswoman for the developer says the new construction is much needed.
"There's a huge housing shortage in California and a shortage of multi-family housing in Placer County in particular," Mary Towne, spokeswoman for the Sierra Gateway Apartments developer, told FOX40.
Towne wants to reassure residents that the new apartment complex will add to the community but people out protesting on Tuesday morning say the issue is larger than the 10 acres.
"The city is just not listening to us. We send letters. We send emails. We assimilate at the council meetings and we're just not being heard," Wiegman said.
A City of Rocklin representative would not agree to speak to FOX40 on camera, due to the pending lawsuit, but says the developer has every right to move forward with construction.
Property owners must have a permit to cut down any trees larger than six inches in diameter.