Circling the News learned on November 24 that two mature blue gums (eucalyptus) adjacent to the new Veterans Gardens at the Palisades Recreation Center are being targeted for removal.
The trees, according to historical records, were part of those envisioned by the Olmstead Brothers, who were hired to design a layout for Pacific Palisades, including streets and parks, when the town was founded in 1922.
Cindy Kirven, who heads the Palisades Forestry Committee (under the aegis of the Community Council), asked in a November 24 email to City officials:
1) Why is L.A. Recreation and Parks planning on removing these high-value trees, rather than managing them as recommended?
2) Why is there a rush to remove these trees, which do not pose any immediate risk?
3) Why is L.A. Recreation and Parks responding to complaints of only one or a few individuals?
Kirven added, “I request that Recreation and Parks and the Forestry Division postpone or stop the intended tree removals until good faith communications addressing the information can be had.”
Kirven had received a copy of a report authored by Walter Warriner, the former community forest and public landscape superintendent for the City of Santa Monica.
His report stated that there is a low risk that the trees will fall and impact private residences adjoining the park and a moderate risk that subject trees might fall and strike a person in the park. His recommendations were not to remove the trees — and that the City should conduct a third-level assessment.
Initially, the trees’ removal came to the Recreation and Parks Contract Administration and Forestry Division because of a neighbor’s concerns.
The proposed tree-removal project was pushed ahead because of long-planned construction in the Recreation Center parking lot, scheduled to begin the first week of December and take about 10 weeks. (The center island will be reconfigured, with parking spaces added, and at least part of the parking lot will be repaved and restriped.)
Kirven apprised several groups of the proposed removal, including Resilient Palisades, whose board president Ingrid Steinberg, wrote in a November 24 email to City officials: “Given this information, Resilient Palisades (representing our 500+ Palisadian members and member families), strongly opposes removing these trees without further community consultation. I trust that the park will put an immediate hold on these plans.
“Aside from all the other compelling reasons to protect our trees, any risk assessment for tree removal should consider the counter risk factors involved in removing precious shade-giving trees in the context of climate warming, especially from public spaces where the most vulnerable among us can seek shelter during a heat event,” Steinberg wrote.
CTN asked Rec and Parks for information on November 29 and was told: “No comment. There could be possible litigation.”
We have asked the Community Council and the Palisades Park Advisory Board if this topic will be added to January agendas.