Canopy of trees threatened by sidewalk repair

| June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

More than 100 trees have been removed for a sidewalk repair program.

As the City of Los Angeles continues to roll out a long-range plan to fix the city’s buckling sidewalks, Windsor Village resident Julie Stromberg asks: Who’s looking out for the trees?

At the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s (GWNC) June 19 Transportation Committee meeting, Stromberg, committee chair, invited Gayle Greenberg, representing the Bureau of Engineering, to discuss the environmental impacts of the “Safe Sidewalks LA” program.

Approved by the City Council in 2016, Safe Sidewalks LA is a $1.4 billion comprehensive 30-year sidewalk repair program.

“My concern is that approximately 104 trees have been removed for the program without the environmental impact of said removals having been assessed,” said Stromberg, noting that it is of particular concern given that the City of Los Angeles does not have a canopy objective.

“Can you explain the program’s environmental process?” Stromberg asked Greenberg.

“I would have to get you more information other than to tell you there is an environmental review process that is going on. I don’t have the details; it’s not something I’m well versed in,” replied Greenberg.

“You’re not doing outreach on the environmental impact report [EIR]?” Stromberg asked. “No,” said Greenberg.

According to Stromberg, the Bureau of Engineering is only now beginning the process for its environmental review of the program and does not anticipate finalizing the EIR until winter 2018. By that time, hundreds if not thousands of trees will have been removed for the program without the City fully understanding the environmental repercussions.

“By just repairing sidewalks and removing trees without analyzing the bigger picture of how the program would impact other environmental issues, the City is operating within a silo not conducive to creating a better and healthier Los Angeles,” said Stromberg.

Tagged for removal

Following the meeting, the Chronicle contacted Stromberg to find out how specifically the program is impacting the Greater Wilshire community.

“For example, approximately 11 trees are tagged to be removed for the program on the 700 and 800 blocks of S. Lucerne Blvd. in Windsor Village, and six trees are tagged to be removed on one block of Beverly Blvd. in Windsor Square.”

Stromberg says numerous tree removals could have a profound effect on the community both aesthetically and environmentally.

“I support the program and want to see our sidewalks repaired so that all Angelenos can use them safely, but I do think that a pause is warranted in order to assess how we can move forward with the program in a more environmentally conscious and prudent manner,” said Stromberg.

“To that end, I believe that no trees should be removed until the completion of the EIR.”

The Bureau of Engineering and the Urban Forestry Division are parts of the Public Works Department, of which Kevin James is president.

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