Approximately 13 trees on the 700 and 800 blocks of S. Lucerne Blvd in Windsor Village had been tagged for removal by the City’s Bureau of Street Services as part of the sidewalk repair project. But thanks to the vigilance of neighborhood activist Julie Stromberg, the trees won’t be toppled without a hearing.
When Stromberg, who serves as a member of the Community Forest Advisory Committee, noticed the tags on the trees, she went online to find out more information. But these trees were not listed on the Tree Removal Notification System page of the Bureau of Street Services’s website that informs residents of hearing dates scheduled for trees slated for removals. After inquires as to why the trees were not listed, Stromberg was told it was a clerical error and the trees have now been posted.
“It is now posted on our 30-day Notification System and anyone having any concerns may log in and request to be notified when a board hearing is scheduled, we will extend posting to meet the 30 Days, these sites usually take approximately 90-120 days to obtain Board approval permit,” wrote David Miranda, Tree Surgeon Sup. II, Bureau of Street Services, Urban Forestry Division in an email to Stromberg. At this time, no hearing date has been set for these trees.
According to Miranda, the Urban Forestry Division left a Property owners Authorization form, for tree removals, though when Stromberg contact one of the owners, the Ebell of Los Angeles, they were not aware of the pending tree removals.
Miranda said the department would “not move forward with any removals until Property owners have been notified and we have secured P.O Auth form. Once we have reached out to Property owners being impacted by such repairs we then prepare a Board report, notify Council and CFAC. We then move forward to the Board of Public works for a hearing, at that point, anyone having concerns of such project can be heard at the Board hearing.”
Heather Johnson, Public Relations Specialist for the Los Angeles Sanitation department told the Buzz that if approved, the “removed trees will be replaced 2:1 (so two new trees for every one removed), once the item is heard at the Board of Public Works and Council/ CFAC is notified. In general, the replacement trees will be within the repair site. However, in cases that the repair site can not accommodate the second replacement tree, staff will work to locate a suitable alternate planting location. For this particular project location, it is still in the notification stage.”
Windsor Square Tree Canopy Committee Chair Helen Hartung, a self-proclaimed “tree hugger” who hates to see any trees removed, said the Liquidambers on Lucerne all showed branch die-back to a certain extent and could be infected with the polyphagous shot hole borer, which causes the tree to die back branch by branch and die. There is no effective treatment for this pest yet, and as a result, municipalities are not planting them anymore. However, Hartung couldn’t say for certain these trees were infected. She also noted that Liquidambars are notorious for lifting sidewalks as they have done on this stretch of Lucerne, so they’re not the ideal tree for planting in a very narrow parkway strip.
“So given that and the fact that the trees are particularly susceptible to the borer pest, I think there is good reason to remove them,” said Hartung. Adding, “I would insist in strong terms that they be replaced with something more appropriate to the tiny parkway–such as Crape Myrtle or Chinese Pistache.”
This story was updated to correct the ID number.