The Westwood Village Improvement Association's request for a permit that would grant the removal of 18 trees in the area for the purpose of sidewalk repair and replacement was approved Friday by the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works.
The permit will allow the removal of 16 Indian laurel fig trees, one red flowering gum tree and one magnolia tree.
Seven trees will be removed on Westwood Boulevard; three on Glendon Avenue; two on Kinross Avenue; two on Gayley Avenue; one on Le Conte Avenue; two on Lindbrook Drive; and one on Wilshire Boulevard. View a map of the tree locations attached to this article.
"This is not a vote against trees," Board President Andrea Alarcón said.
The city originally heard this issue in October, when Alarcón directed the Bureau of Street Services Urban Forestry Division to take "one much closer look" at its recommendation to remove the trees.
Representatives from the board and the Bureau of Street Services traveled to Westwood last week to meet with residents and tour the 18 tree sites.
"After looking at them, I'm even more in favor of these trees being removed," said Ron Lorenzen, the city's assistant chief forester.
Some community groups have argued for tree-saving alternatives, like root barriers and tree well enlargement, and have pushed back on the proposed removal of most of the trees.
Steve Sann, chair of the Westwood Community Council, questioned whether so many trees should be removed for the purpose of sidewalk replacement.
"Is it truly necessary ... to destroy 18 trees to accomplish that?" he said.
Sandy Brown, president of the Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association, said a solution that would repair the sidewalks and maintain the tree canopy couldn't be far from reach.
"If we all worked a little bit harder there would be a way to do both," she said.
Lorenzen said some tree-saving alternatives, like root pruning, would be a short-term fix.
"Are there options? There certainly are. Can these trees be root pruned? The answer is yes. Is that our recommendation? The answer is no," he said. "It's going to only buy us a limited amount of time."
WVIA Board of Directors Chair Jessica Dabney urged the board to make a decision so that sidewalk replacement could begin. She stressed the WVIA's interest in providing lasting improvement in the Village.
"We're not looking for a quick fix," she said.
Sidewalk repair and replacement could start as early as January of 2013. The total project cost, with tree removal, is $170,000.
As part of the tree removal permit conditions, the WVIA will be required to plant two 24-inch box size southern magnolia trees and 34 24-inch box size Chinese flame trees in the site's public right-of-way.
Do you support the tree removal? Tell us in the comments section below.