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

Neighbors Worry about McCarthy Vista Median Trees

Methane extraction construction equipment was placed along the McCathy Vista Median, causing residents concern about the nearby trees. (photo taken in May by Ann Rubin)

Carthay Circle residents are passionate about trees. We’ve written several stories about their efforts to add trees and protect the long-established trees that shade their historic neighborhood.

Recently, we heard from Ann Rubin, a resident of Carthay Circle, Vice President of the Carthay Circle Neighborhood Association, and Chair of the association’s Beautification Committee, about the well-being of trees in the McCarthy Vista Median, the landscaped median between Wilshire and Olympic Blvds., where new Italian Stone Pine trees were planted in 2018.

At the end of May, Rubin noticed the trees were surrounded by heavy equipment from Metro construction, which was put in place to extract combustible methane from under the ground as part of the subway construction. Fearing the heavy equipment would compact the soil at the roots of the trees and potentially harm the trees, Rubin sprung into action. She reached out to contacts at the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, which is responsible for the maintenance of the median.  She also contacted Ned Racine, a member of Metro’s community relations team, to alert him to the neighborhood’s concern for the trees.

Residents worried about the roots of the recently planted Italian Stone Pines being damaged by the weight of the construction equipment placed near the trees. (photo taken in May by Ann Rubin)

It took some time and effort, as most of these things do, but once Rubin and fellow Beautification Committee member Marika Sung, got all the parties focused on the trees and the impact of the construction, efforts were made to mitigate the damage that construction equipment might cause. In the last few days, protective fencing has been placed around the trees and planks have been placed under the heavy equipment to distribute the weight and reduce the soil compaction that can starve tree roots of water and oxygen, eventually killing the tree.  Mature trees can suffer a lot of damage before they start to decline, making it hard to determine the cause of death, so arborists recommend avoiding potentially lethal conditions like soil compaction to prevent damage to an otherwise healthy tree.

“I am pleased to report that all trees in the north McCarthy Vista median have fencing around them, Racine wrote to Rubin in an email shared with the Buzz this week. “In addition, all the large equipment — including the fuel tanks — have DuraDeck under them. More specifically, the equipment has DuraDeck under the wheels and the jack points (where the equipment is connected to towing vehicles).”

Protective fencing has been placed around the trees to remind workers not to place heavy equipment at the base of the trees. (photo taken this week by Ann Rubin)

At the request of Leon Boroditsky from the LA City Recreation and Parks Department, Metro technicians have also moved the methane venting equipment farther away from the trees. And, hopefully, the work will be completed a bit sooner than Metro expected, which would mean all the equipment could be removed from the median.

Racine noted that “the Purple Line Extension Project strives to be a good neighbor.”  Once Metro learned that median was under the auspices of the City’s Recreation and Parks Department, thanks to Rubin, they reached out for guidance from the department on how to accommodate the trees.

Hopefully these improvements will be sufficient to protect the trees. In the meantime, we are thankful that Rubin and her neighbors will continue to keep a watchful on the median. Thanks to Rubin and her neighbors for their continued care and vigilance of these trees as we all benefit from a healthy urban tree canopy.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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