The Pacific Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC) sought permission to plant eight replacement trees at the Recreation Center during the Park Advisory Board meeting on October 19.
The PFC proposed three tall pine trees near the entrance to the park, three Torrey pines adjacent to the kids’ playground, and two Tipuana tipu trees near the bocce courts.
The Forestry committee, a Community Council subcommittee, has organized the tree-planting project to help replace the numerous trees that have been lost at the park in recent years due to drought, disease and a windstorm.
Several residents who live near the Veterans Gardens/bocce courts had hired arborist Walt Warriner for advice about tipu trees in this particular location. These trees have graced the Village Green for decades.
Warriner, a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, provides expert testimony, risk assessments, construction mitigation and community outreach. He told his clients, “I recommend going to the meeting and voicing an objection to the Tipu. I recommend the incense cedar tree. It is native, has the same general appearance of a redwood, is much cleaner of a tree than the tipu and does not develop a wide-ranging surface root system that could be invasive in some areas.”
Warriner sent a photo of this cedar, a tree native to Southern California, growing in Santa Monica.
At the PAB meeting, neighbors were not allowed to offer Warriner’s suggestion, and the board approved the eight trees, including the tipu.
PAB’s recommendation, which is advisory, now has to go before the L.A. Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners. They have to approve the gift of the eight trees and members of the community would be able to comment during that meeting about the trees.
After the PAB meeting, David Card, chair of the PFC, was asked by email, “Did you ever ask the neighbors’ recommendation for the bocce area? If you asked, was that recommendation on the list of approved trees for L.A.? If you didn’t ask, why not?
Card said that his group had “asked RAP Forestry’s arborist for its recommendation for a shade tree for the Veterans Gardens picnic tables and was given the Tipuana tipu.”
He continued, “As a landscape designer, who 19 years ago graduated from landscape architecture school (UCLA Extension’s four-year Landscape Architecture Program), was the TA for the school’s Plant Materials professor, worked in his landscape architecture firm, and had my own landscape design firm in Pacific Palisades until 2017 (now doing landscape design as a community volunteer), I concurred in that selection, as did the Palisades Forestry Committee and the Palisades Park Advisory Board. RAP’s arborist and maintenance experts said that incense cedars are more susceptible to disease and do not do well in Los Angeles, based on their experience.”
CTN queried several members of the Village Green board about the tipu trees.
One individual responded, “I am very familiar with the tipus since we have three on the VG. They are messy, dropping yellow blossoms at one time of the year and losing their leaves at another time. They get Psyllids which creates another problem. We have to treat for this, so we don’t have a sticky mess on everything. Then the root system has wreaked havoc with our sidewalk and brick area. A number of years ago the Village Green had a very costly repair to replace the sidewalk and bricks.”
Card responded to CTN about that information. “It’s not my decision. LA City’s Rec & Parks recommended the tipu for that site. The Vet Gardens people agreed — they manage that area of the park. They will buy and care for the trees, and they’ll have the resources to do so.”
Retired arborist Carl Mellinger, who grew up in Pacific Palisades and is on the Village Green Board, said he was never consulted about the choice of trees. He has agreed to meet with CTN to examine the space and the suitability of tipus.
Regarding maintenance: The Veterans Gardens is under the management of the nonprofit “Your Parks Corporation.” Currently, there is a three-year maintenance agreement for that area that includes the picnic area and bocce courts. It was signed in the fall of 2021.
In consideration for the maintenance costs, Your Parks can issue permits to conduct leagues without any payment to the City.
Wow, Sue! What happened to reporting all sides of the story? I sent you the UFEI/Select Tree information (considered to be the Gold Standard of arboreal information by most arborists for Southern California) comparing the Tipu to the Incense Cedar that was the alternate recommended for consideration in Veterans Garden. For some reason you fail to mention that the Cedar will be too tall (at 90 feet compared to 50 ft for Tipu), not wide enough for the desired shade in that location (at 10-15 feet compared to 25-50 feet for Tipu), and requires the same root space for planting. Additionally, the Cedar has potential health risks for Allergies and Irritants (none noted for Tipu), which are not appropriate for a tree in a park with children and seniors. And, the myriad list of pest and disease susceptibility for the Cedar (Phytophthora, Root Rot, Red Ring Rot, Beetle Borers, Juniper Scale, and Western Cedar Bark Beetle) is not mentioned. The Tipu Psyllid can be treated with a systemic spray (like aphids on a rose) while Root Rot and Beetle Borers may require removal of the tree. Lastly, the beautiful Tipus in the Village Green have survived for 50 years despite being planted in the wrong place. They are way to close to sidewalks (5 feet versus the required 10; 10 ft is available at Veterans Garden) and watered with lawn sprinklers (versus the deep root water bubblers used for trees at Veterans Garden.) “Maybe” the Tipu is exactly the right tree for the Veterans Garden space since it was recommended by the arborists at Rec and Park who ultimately are the ones responsible. (Footnote that I am not an arborist but am certainly enjoying my time volunteering on the Village Green and the Palisades Forestry Committee.)
I don’t think people should become entrenched. I feel people should consider all possibilities. I think its interesting that you write “Lastly, the beautiful Tipus in the Village Green have survived for 50 years despite being planted in the wrong place.”
I have a feeling that there is probably another tree other than Tipu and Cedar that could be offered that could accomplish all goals at Veterans Gardens. There is a lawn bowling site on Wilshire, near 26th street that does not have shade trees. I wonder if that is intentional in order to keep the area “cleaner?”