The Hancock Park tree canopy is about to get a little denser. Yesterday, Sabine Hoppner, the arborist for the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, and her crew were placing 25 large trees that had been delivered by the nursery that morning. The new trees are being planted today and tomorrow in the parkways of several neighborhood streets including June Street, Hudson Avenue and Las Palmas, all in compliance with city-approved Hancock Park Homeowners Association Master Tree Plan.
Hoppner and Cindy Chvatal-Keane, President of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, have spent months preparing for this week’s tree planting. Hoppner, who has been assisting the association steward the neighborhood’s trees, spoke with us yesterday about the process as she was supervising the crew placing the trees in the designated locations.
Digging a hole and planting one of these new trees is actually the easy part. The hard part is doing all the preparation and work with the city and neighbors to make sure the new trees are properly planted following city rules and will be cared for by a neighbor.
“They say we are the lungs of the city,” said Chvatal-Keane told the Buzz. “As stewards of our neighborhood tree canopy, we have planted hundreds of trees over the years. And with Sabine’s help, we have been able to save several from removal by the city for sidewalk repair.”
Before the pandemic, the association installed a dozen new Washingtonia palm trees in the Highland Ave. median.
Because the neighborhood trees are so old, the first step is to identify trees that are dead, dying or diseased so they can be removed and replaced with new trees. That process starts with members of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association Tree Committee who go out and conduct a block by block survey. Their list of trees is given to Hoppner, who writes up an evaluation and recommendation for every tree. Her report is sent to the HOA, which then files a request with the city’s Urban Forest department to approve and remove the identified trees. From there, the department inspects the trees and marks them for removal by city crews. The final list of trees and their locations is sent to the Office of Historic Resources for approval by the HPOZ planner.
“David Miranda, Division Manager at Urban Forestry, and Keith Mozee, Executive Director and General Manager of the Bureau of Street Services, have been really great partners in our efforts,” said Chvatal-Keane.
Next, the approved list goes back to the Hancock Park tree committee volunteers, who ask homeowners to sign at form giving their permission for a new tree to be planted and agreeing to water the tree for the first three years. Once everything is approved, Hoppner selects the new trees from the nursery, and arranges and supervises the installation of the trees.
“We have to follow the city’s rules about where you can plant a tree, so we can’t always put a tree back exactly where one was removed. But we try to make sure the homeowner is on board so they will will water it for the first three years,” explained Chvatal-Keane. This year, because of the drought and watering restrictions, the association is considering allocating funds for a water truck to water the trees in the summer.
“We pay for all of this with the dues we collect from residents,” explained Chvatal-Keane. “We follow our tree master plan to make sure we are maintaining a healthy, diverse tree canopy and everything is approved by the city. It’s truly one of the more gratifying things to see the trees grow and see how happy neighbors are when the trees are planted. It’s so much fun!”