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

Fallen Tree on 4th Street at June Street

Fallen Stone Pine tree is being cut up in order to remove it
Fallen Stone Pine tree is being cut up in order to remove it. City officials reneged on earlier offer to remove the tree from the street and parkway and told the Marquis family they had 24 hours to remove the tree or risk a fine.

A 50-foot, hundred year-old  stone pine tree fell across 4th street Saturday afternoon just moments after two cyclists had passed by.

“We heard a tremendous crash and ran outside to see what happened,” explained Claude Marquis, whose lives at 400 South Street. “We had no idea the tree was sick. There were green pine needles and the tree had been regularly trimmed.”

Miraculously, the tree fell without harming anyone and causing very little property damage. “We are so thankful no one got hurt,” said Marquis, who noted that Fourth Street is always busy with bicyclists and walkers at all hours of the day. Marquis pointed out the tree missed hitting a street light and a newly planted Camphor in the parkway. Another parkway tree across the street cushioned the fall, preventing any damage to the neighbor’s property. “The only damage was to our wall,” said Marquis.

A photo from Google Maps taken in June shows a seemingly healthy tree. But in truth the tree roots were being attacked by an oak fungus that also attacks Stone Pine trees according to Bartolo Lopez, an arborist at 3 Pinos, Inc. who made an emergency trip Saturday evening to see if there was any way to save the tree.  Lopez has been caring for the trees on the property for several years. He estimated the tree was at least 100 years old and possibly as old as 200, based on the diameter of the trunk and the height. The tree was over 50 feet tall and the trunk was 3 feet in diameter.

Lopez and his crew were out on Sunday morning cutting up the tree and clearing the street for the Marquis family, who had been told they had to remove the debris within 24 hours or they would be fined.  Initially, the city had told Marquis that it would clear the debris from the street and the parkway, but it later rescinded the offer, saying the fallen tree was on private property and the entire clean up was her responsibility.

Sabine Hoppner, a certified arborist who has been working with on reforesting the Hancock Park neighborhood parkway canopy for the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, confirmed Mr. Lopez’s diagnosis. Ms. Hoppner found evidence of a white fungus mycelium on the roots. In an email shared with the Buzz, Ms. Hoppner told to HPHOA President Cindy Chavatal that she believed it was root rot that took the tree down. “I could see it clearly and also smell the strong mushroom scent,” wrote Hoppner.

Ms. Hoppner speculated the drought could have made the fallen tree more susceptible to the root fungus, though fungi usually like moist conditions.  Predicting causes of a tree’s demise is not an exact science since trees often don’t show any signs of stress until it’s too late.

“Unfortunately by the time that stress is visible, it is often too late,” wrote Judy Horton, garden designer and horticulturalist in “Garden For you Trees,” recently published in the Buzz. “Damage during construction or during drought may not show up for 2-3 years and by then it may be impossible to reverse.”

Most experts agree residents should make efforts to deep water their trees. Hoppner advised that drip irrigation system for drought tolerant landscaping should be run longer than the 8 minutes allowed for overhead sprinkler irrigation systems.  “I’d say: start deep-watering your established trees now,” wrote Hoppner.


Claude Marquis inspects the fallen Stone Pine street whose trunk was more than three feet in diameter indicating the tree was a least 100 years old.


Image of Stone Pine treet in June 2015 from Google Maps
Google Maps image of Stone Pine Street in June 2015
Miraculously the tree fell between the street light post and the newly planted Camphor in the parkway leaving both unharmed.
The parkway tree across the street cushioned the fall preventing damage to the neighbor’s property. The Marquis family had moved their car earlier so no cars were damaged either.


The massive root system of the tree was killed by an oak fungus that attacks Stone Pines. "It's like a heart attack in a person, the tree just keels over and dies," said Claude Marquis.
The massive root system of the tree was killed by an oak fungus that attacks Stone Pines. “It’s like a heart attack in a person, the tree just keels over and dies,” said Claude Marquis.



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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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