The removal of two mature ficus trees in front of Hamburger Hamlet this morning at approximately 4:45 am makes us wonder why indeed these trees were taken down under the cover of darkness? Certainly the ficus trees that line Larchmont Blvd. are known for their unwieldy root systems that cause erratic sidewalks, but they also harbor whole flocks of birds and provide a uniform street canopy that gives Larchmont much of its charm.
Shutterbug Greg Siragusa snapped the nighttime photo, and the Buzz followed up this morning with phone calls to LA City Bureau of Street Services. Evidently there were several requests for the two trees at 215-219 N Larchmont to be removed, and the removal permit was issued in May 2012. Speaking with Ron Tull of the Urban Forestry section of Street Services, we learned that the trees were deemed to be causing a hazard and the sidewalks need to be fixed. In the past, the roots of ficus trees were often trimmed, and sidewalks replaced. Tull told the Buzz however, that they deemed the trees would be unsafe if their roots shaved. He also noted that whereas there used to be a City department that could do this shaving and concrete repair, the department no longer exists and so this more drastic solution had to be taken.
We can only surmise that the two trees were quickly removed during the wee hours of morning as there would have been some public outcry at seeing them taken down. The removal and repair and replacement costs are all born by the property owner. A new small sapling of another variety has been planted in one of the spots. The other spot is barren.
We find the tree removal disturbing as this could set a precedent for other businesses on the boulevard. We’d hate to see this as the beginning of the demise of our lovely Larchmont canopy. There are currently requests for removal of other ficus trees on the 100 South, 330 North and 400 North blocks of Larchmont. Should the community get more involved in finding solutions that will preserve the trees, or define what the next street trees should be? Weigh in below and “Leave a Reply” to share your comments.