Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

LA Times Editorial Laments Loss of City’s Tree Canopy

Sycamore Ave. – famous for its leafy – and now endangered – canopy of Sycamore trees.

We can’t say it often enough:  we love our neighborhood trees, and we support efforts to save and enhance our city’s valuable tree canopy.

For those of you also interested in our local trees, we point you to an editorial in today’s L.A. Times, by local writer David L. Ulin. Ulin has written a whole book about the experience of walking in Los Angeles (“Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles“) and now, in the context of his daily neighborhood walks, takes up a leafy mantle to warn about the shrinking number of trees in our city, and the many values of shade.

First, Ulin makes the point that we are, indeed, losing trees…to both disease and tree removal:

“The causes are many: everything from “mansionization” — in which old houses are replaced by bigger ones extending to the edge of property setbacks — to tree disease, pests (especially the polyphagous shot hole borer, a beetle) and sidewalk repair.

Removing diseased trees, of course, or those that uproot sidewalks, is necessary — as long as they’re replaced. Too often, they aren’t, especially in less affluent neighborhoods.”

And he quotes data to back up the urgency, courtesy of studies from USC and MIT:

“The USC study found that Baldwin Park saw “a 55% loss of green cover on single-family residential lots — from 70% to 31% — in the mere span of nine years.” Downey, Compton and San Pedro lost 20% of their cover during the same span.”


“According to a study published last year by USC’s Spatial Sciences Institute, tree and shrub cover in Los Angeles County declined by an average of 1.2% annually between 2000 and 2009. In 2008, Greg McPherson of the U.S. Forest Service reported that 21% of Los Angeles had tree coverage. Nine years later, the MIT Senseable City Lab “Treepedia” found that number had dropped to just 15.2%.”

MIT’s Treepedia map of the Greater Wilshire area of Los Angeles, showing only 15.2% tree coverage.

Ulin also argues that while sun gives Los Angeles its famous character, shade plays just as big a role:

“…when it gets hot, whatever takes the edge off is as essential as the sun. Think about it, how it feels to step outside after sunset, or into the morning haze of the marine layer. Just to imagine it makes me sigh with relief.

There’s a reason the best film noirs take place at night, and it’s not only that they’re shot in black and white. Los Angeles flexes, loosens its shoulders, out from under the tyranny of the sun.”

It’s some great food for thought…and we urge you to read the full column at

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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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