Echo Park Avenue Ficus trees removed without notice

Photo credit: Kelly Erickson

by Peter Lassen

Community members have been complaining for years about the broken sidewalk around the bus stop at Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. The roots of the two ficus trees that shaded the bus stop had undermined the sidewalk, and it was a lawsuit just waiting to happen. Realizing that inevitability, the bureaucracy finally sprang into action.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) received a community complaint. METRO then gave money to the City to remove the two ficus trees and fix the sidewalk. Since its budget is tight, the City could not have reacted this fast if the work was to been done with City money. Furthermore, the work would not have been done on the weekend, as the City doesn’t authorize overtime. Once the money had been authorized, the tree removal was approved.

Was there no other way to fix the problem sidewalk? Indeed there was! Root pruning has been shown to be effective in keeping tree roots from undermining sidewalks. And enlarging the tree wells along the curb would provide more space for the roots to grow. Further, root pruning would confine the surface roots to the well without destroying the walk.

While the Council Office was told of the removal, no public notice was required. By City rules, public notice of tree removal is not necessary for fewer than three trees. The trees were taken down on one weekend, and the sidewalk was replaced the following week.
The shade that the ficus trees provided was a welcome break from the heat generated by Walgreen’s parking lot. Bus riders and the Echo Park community mourn the loss of the ficus trees and the dense shade they provided.

Ficus trees on Logan Street by Walgreens. Photo credit: Kelly Erickson

Published in the April-May 2013 issue of EPIAn Ways