City clarifies reasons for relocation of tree wells

| December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

A TREE was planted close to the driveway to maintain proper space from a second tree, according to the city Urban Forestry Division.

In the November 2019 issue, the Larchmont Chronicle reported on the loss of two healthy and mature ficus trees, as well as the relocation of their tree wells, once located in front of the Rite Aid store’s sign on Larchmont Boulevard. The story resonated with residents and policymakers alike.

“Your article about the placement of the southernmost tree well re-sparked a recent interaction I had with Rob Fisher from Councilman Ryu’s office,” wrote Dennis Levin, Norton Avenue, in a letter to the Chronicle. “I had previously written to Fisher indicating that the placement of the tree well gave credence to the narrative that Mr. Simms [a Beverly Hills developer, and landlord for the drugstore at 226 N. Larchmont Blvd.] was the driver on all action taken to remove the trees and move the tree well,” he explained.

According to Levin, Fisher responded that the tree well was moved under the direct supervision of Los Angeles Chief Forester Tim Tyson.

“I’d sure like to learn the real story, as I know you would also,” challenged Levin.

On the decision to move the tree well location, Paul Gomez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Public Works (of which the Urban Forestry Division is a part), submitted the following statement to the Chronicle:

“With a commitment to ensure that both tree wells were replaced, but taking into consideration the existence of a streetlight and driveway, the tree wells were moved slightly to accommodate the two new trees while meeting the city’s tree spacing guidelines.”

This statement raises the question of how those city guidelines have changed since the tree wells were first installed years ago. The Chronicle posed this question to Gomez, and requested from him details of the city’s tree spacing guidelines.

“We are not certain of specific tree spacing guidelines that were in place when the trees on Larchmont Boulevard were planted 60 years ago,” Gomez said in a written response. “In order to have two trees remain, as was requested by members of the community, one tree was placed closer to the driveway than normal to maintain proper space between the two trees, which is important to the health of the trees and infrastructure,” he concluded.

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