Residents of Windsor Square approved a plan that calls for preserving the Larchmont Boulevard Ficus trees presented by Windsor Square Association President Larry Guzin at its annual town hall meeting last night at the Ebell of Los Angeles.
“Our neighborhood is the green in the city,” said Guzin, who described the view of the Windsor Square area from the hills of Griffith Park where he frequently hikes. “Our association has paid a lot of attention over the years to our canopy. 20 years ago a survey was made and thousands of trees were planted. In 1998, the Larchmont median was created with funds from the Association, which continues to pay for the maintenance of the median. Most recently, the association provided funds to landscape the Norton triangle, a gateway to the neighborhood,” said Guzin.
The association’s plan (listed below) is a reaction to the proposal from the Larchmont Business Improvement District (BID), announced in January of this year, to eventually remove and replace all 38 ficus trees because their extensive roots are creating unsafe sidewalks and strangling the plumbing causing extra expenses for Larchmont property owners.
Guzin explained that the WSA felt compelled to oppose the BID’s removal plan once it learned that 37 of the 38 trees in the Village are healthy. In addition, after much research by Lucerne Blvd. resident and chair of the Canopy Committee, Helen Hartung, the Association has recommended replacing the missing trees with Saratoga Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis “Saratoga”) and has committed to $10,000 to the effort.
“The ficus trees on Larchmont are owned by the City of Los Angeles and the City controls the planting and removal of parkway trees by permit. Adjacent property owners are responsible for their maintenance,” said Guzin, who pointed out the trees in the Village, the section of Larchmont Blvd. between Beverly and First Street, fall entirely within the Windsor Square neighborhood boundaries. According to Guzin, the association has been disappointed to see trees removed in the past with the promise of replacement, but then no trees are replaced. A tree was removed near the Goorin Brothers hat store, at 141 N. Larchmont, last April but nothing has been planted to replace it.
Showing photos of the street with missing trees, Guzin said, “the trees are the draw to Larchmont, they provide the village atmosphere and should be included in the cost of doing business.” He asked residents to support the Association’s plans to advocate for the conservation of the existing trees and replace the lost trees with large, more mature specimens to avoid losing the street’s canopy.
CD4 Council Member David Ryu also addressed group, commending members for their efforts to preserve the tree canopy. He also praised the Hancock Park Garden Club for its recent publication of a booklet on evolving front yards. Ryu invited the association to apply for discretionary funds from his office for assistance with future plantings. (Last year, Ryu’s office provided a $15,000 grant to the BID to contract with an arborist to survey the trees on Larchmont.)
Ryu commended LAPD Senior Lead Officers Joe Pelayo and Dave Cordova for their public safety efforts and their long service to the neighborhood. He also spoke about his efforts on the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, noting it was a personal priority for him and that his appointment to the committee was one he sought since taking office two years ago. Ryu fielded a range of questions about the city’s budget, state rules regarding additional dwelling units on single family home lots and efforts to return a portion of parking fees back to areas where they were collected.
In other business, the WSA elected the following residents to serve on the board for the next year: June Bilgore, Vince Chieffo, Gary Duff, Anthony Gatti, Mike Genewick, Gary Gilling, Larry Guzin, Helen Hartung, Katie Jones, Kristen Mandel, Caroline Moser, Angie Szentgyorgyi, Steve Tator and John Welborne.
Windsor Square Association Larchmont Boulevard Ficus Tree Plan
No Larchmont Boulevard Ficus tree will be removed unless it is dead, diseased or dangerous; nor will be removed because of sidewalk damage, unless the adjacent sidewalk is first lifted or removed to allow root inspection and pruning, supervised by a certified arborist paid by the responsible party.
The responsible party will pay for the removal of any such tree, grinding its stump and removing its roots from the underlying soil, supervised by a certified arborist.
The responsible party will pay for and forthwith replace any such tree with at least a 36″ boxed size Saratoga Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis “Saratoga”) after sidewalk repair, if needed, paid for by the responsible party.
Replacement trees shall be plated in the largest possible sidewalk cut outs and in soil approved by a certified arborist. After planting, high-quality, uniform metal grates paid for by the responsible party will be installed to make the sidewalk more walkable.
The responsible party will be responsible for maintenance of any Ficus tree or replacement tree, including automated irrigation and/or hand-watering, fertilizing, staking and pruning pursuant to a protocol approved by a certified arborist.