ECHO PARK (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Board of Public Works Wednesday voted to remove more than three dozen trees along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park.
The 40 trees dot the famous roadway from N. Alvarado Street to Elysian Park Avenue and have damaged the sidewalk, are unhealthy or were planted without permission.
Their removal is part of a street and sidewalk beautification project. City leaders say more than 100 new trees — a combination of Chinese Pistache and Australian Willows — will be planted in their place.
Originally, 58 trees were tagged, but after neighborhood meetings, city leaders decided to trim and save several large Ficus trees.
“Of the 40 trees that are being removed, 25 of them are really under-performing Chitalpa trees, which if you go to Sunset and see them, they were planted 20 years ago and they have not grown,” Christine Peters, who initiated the project, said.
The removal of the trees will be paid for by grant money, which will also be invested in sidewalk repairs and new benches.
Some residents support the project, while others have removed city signs and posted to neighborhood websites, such as Echo Park Now, to protest.
However, most people seem to agree that the removal of one particular tree — dubbed the “Gigantis Ficus” — will be a great loss.
Organizers say they researched many ways to save it, but the roots are cracking concrete and disturbing buildings in the area.
“When you see it, it’s just a wonderful work of nature, but when you’re looking at public safety, the businesses around it, the damages that it will do now and in the future. There’s a point in time where a call has to be made,” Echo Park resident Dr. Ralphael Mattei said.