SAN FERNANDO (CBSLA.com) — The city’s plan was for the trees to be uprooted and placed elsewhere.
But someone cut the trees down by mistake.
Some residents in San Fernando on Sunday had a vigil for the trees that lined the median of South Brand Boulevard — they said the trees should never should have been chopped down and destroyed.
KCAL9’s Erica Nochlin attended the candlelight vigil which she reported was decidedly different than most.
It was a vigil and a protest. The crowd chanted, “Save our trees!”
Six palm trees chopped down with a chain saw. The trees were more than 50 years old. Protesters said the trees were part of a gateway to the city. Part of city history.
“We’re very upset and we want the trees replaced,” said Mary Mendoza, a member of Residents for a Better San Fernando.
The chopping down of the trees happend Friday and Saturday. The city said it was done to make the median more drought-tolerant. Adding things like artificial turf will save the city a million gallons of water a year.
The San Fernando City Manager says losing the trees outright was never part of the plan.
“We feel terrible about it,” says Brian Saeki, the city manager. “It was unfortunate, it was a mistake. An oversight.”
He blames miscommunication for the controversial move. While all mature trees were supposed to be preserved, he says the landscape architect gave the wrong plans to the contractor.
Nochlin asked Saeki how the miscommunication could happen?
“Well, there’s so many iterations of the plan, maybe one of those iterations had the trees being removed, I’m not sure, I need to get in there on Monday and figure it out,” Saeki said.
“I’m not satisfied with that explanation, not at all,” said the city’s vice mayor, Sylvia Ballin.
The vice mayor said when she heard about trees being chopped down she nearly cried.
“We’re all residents, we’re all impacted by this devastation. This is horrible, how do you replace these trees?” Ballin said.
“There’s no excuse for such a mistake to happen,” said Mendoza.