Dangerous Tree at Park Is Trimmed Before the Fourth–

This Moreton Bay Fig’s branch stretched over Alma Real and had not been trimmed for years. The 5/10K Will Rogers Run organizers worried about the safety of runners on this street.

Thanks to Efforts by Shea, Cahill, Haas, Dunlap and Halper

More than a year ago, Brian Shea, lead organizer for the Will Rogers 5/10K Run, asked City officials to trim the large, overgrown Moreton Bay Fig near the entrance to the Palisades Recreation Center.

On Shea’s behalf, Race Attorney David Aikenhead of Aikenhead, Cipes and Supanich sent a letter to Rec Center Director Erich Haas about the potholes and deteriorating road conditions in the parking lot and about the Moreton tree that towered over the start line of the Kids’ Fun Run.

On June 16, 2018, Aikenhead wrote: “Erich, in support of Brian Shea’s concerns for the safety of his nearly 3,000 participants and volunteers for this year’s July 4 race to start and finish at Palisades Park in Pacific Palisades, please see my attached letter of today citing our specific safety concerns. We remain hopeful that the City can cure the obvious safety issues now existing at the entrance to Palisades Park before July 4.”

Haas responded the same day: “Thank you for the correspondence regarding your concerns. I have expressed your concerns to my supervisors and put in all job orders as ‘emergency.’

“This past week I had the Risk Manager and Safety Engineer do a walk through of the park with me. I specifically pointed out the large potholes in the upper parking lot and stated we have a very large annual event at the park on July 4th with over 3,000 in attendance. The Safety Engineer took several pictures. I am confident this will be addressed before your event.

“As the tree is concerned, I put in a job order with our Forestry division and followed up with a phone call. They assured me someone would be out to assess the tree before the event.”

Despite these efforts, City workers never showed up to actually trim the tree or resurface the parking lot. So a year went by and Shea found himself in the same situation, facing potential injuries and lawsuits. (In March, a Moreton Bay Fig toppled during a Chinese lantern festival downtown. Luckily no injuries were reported.)

On June 26, Shea wrote another email to Haas: “Erich, I and Race Committee members have notice the ‘same condition’ to the road/finish area of the Park’s entrance road and tree that are a safety issue to the finishers/start of the 42nd Race. Please see the attached correspondence from our attorney to you a year ago and still the entrance is a ‘liability’ to the 3,000 or so runners that will participate in this year’s Race on Thursday, July 4th 2019.”

Aware of this situation, Circling the News sent an email to Councilman Mike Bonin’s field deputy Lisa Cahill and Rec and L.A. Recreation and Parks Commissioner Joe Halper (a Palisadian).

Haas emailed Shea on June 28 and said “We have commercial paving and coating crew working up here putting cold patches on the pot holes in the upper parking lot. Unfortunately, the areas in the street are not part of the Park and thus can’t be done. Bureau of Street Services would need to be contacted by you to get this done.”

Haas added, “A Forestry crew will be here Monday or Tuesday to trim the big tree at the front of the Park that you are concerned about (barring any emergencies that come in).”

Rec and Parks Forestry Supervisor II Steve Dunlap oversaw the trimming today (July 2).

“It’s amazing,” Shea wrote afterwards to CTN. “My wife Pam said that they had ‘very large equipment’ to do the trimming. Again great job.”

Special thanks go to Dunlap, Cahill and Halper for ensuring the safety of thousands of participants Thursday morning at the Recreation Center.

The Moreton Bay Fig branch, overhanging the street (seen above), was trimmed for safety reasons.

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