You may have noticed today that street crews from the L.A. Bureau Of Street Services showed up this morning to begin repairing the sidewalks along Washington Blvd. in Wellington Square, between Wellington Rd. and Victoria Ave. This was a welcome to sight to anyone who has walked along that stretch of the sidewalk recently – the pavement was in serious need of repair due to numerous cracks and damage from the roots of large pine trees.And here’s even more good news… none of the historic pine trees in that area along Washington Blvd. will be harmed or removed during this sidewalk repair process thanks in large part to the hard work of several of the residents of Wellington Square and the diligence of Herb Wesson and his CD-10 staff. Special thanks to Sylvia Lacy and John Harmon from CD-10 for working with the residents to ensure that the work could be accomplished and completed without disturbing these majestic trees. They met with officials from the Bureau of Street Services to work out a plan for repair that would especially protect the trees. The work is estimated to take several weeks to finish. During this time, you will be unable to walk on the sidewalk on the south side of Washington Blvd. in that section, so please plan an alternate walking path on the north side of the street.
The PLUM (Planning & Land Use Management) Committee will meet next Tuesday* night, November 9th at 7:00pm in the LAPD Community Room. This particualar meeting will focus on the sidewalk repair initiative and they are asking for a few volunteers to attend as a lot of work must be assigned to verify, document and “score” those streches of sidewalk that were submitted to the PLUM Committee in August/September.
There will also be a few updates on previous initiatives and a brief discussion on revisions to the zoning code as they pertain to “community care facilities and residential group homes.”
*MINC typically has the 2nd THURSDAY of the month reserved for PLUM Committee meetings, but in light of the Veteran’s Day Holiday and scheduling constraints on LAPD’s Community Room, they will be meeting on TUESDAY (Nov. 9th) for this month only.
I wanted to put out a quick update about what was going on with the trees along Washington Blvd.
We received a great write-up from the Mid-City Press concerning our neighborhood’s participation at the last MINC meeting!
Buckling Sidewalks Weighed vs. Saving Trees
Extreme lifting and crumbling of Mid-City Neighborhood sidewalks has made some walkways dangerous for pedestrians, but local residents fear that repairs may endanger or kill the trees responsible.
Fourteen representatives from the area of Wellington Square attended last month’s Mid-City Neighborhood Council (MINC) meeting to speak on behalf of the trees that line sidewalks along Washington Blvd., Virginia Rd., Wellington Rd. and Victoria Ave.
“People have been falling,” said Michael Sonntag, a representative from Region Three. “The sidewalks, something definitely needs to be done about them, and yet, I think that most of the people that I talk to would love to find a way to do that that doesn’t endanger the trees.”
Vince Albrecht, also of Wellington Square, has conducted research on the trees and said they are a specific kind that qualifies for historic status.
“There’s a belief that these are “Heritage Trees” because of their length of time—they’ve been there probably since the turn of the century, 1900. Ten of the 13 trees are at least three feet in diameter, which supposedly is heritage-warranted and if they’re Heritage Trees, they’re protected from being cut down,” he said.
Months ago, Los Angeles city officials looked at some of the problem sidewalks and discovered that there weren’t many repair options available to them other than removing the trees.
The Urban Forestry Division of Street Services for the City of Los Angeles have tested the trees and found that they are stable and not diseased, according to Sylvia Lacy, North Central Senior Deputy for Council District 10.
“When we had looked at it before, there was no way to repair the sidewalk without destroying the trees. So the decision was made, don’t fix the sidewalk,” Lacy said.
The sidewalks’ condition has since worsened and locals have begun to recognize something must be done to improve conditions for pedestrians.
During the meeting, the general consensus was in opposition to cutting any tree’s roots. When larger roots are cut, trees can lose their stability and become more likely to cause harm by falling over, Sonntag explained.
Repair suggestions during the meeting included curving the sidewalk around larger root systems or putting black top or rubber sidewalk, made from recycled tires, in place.
Rubber sidewalks have been installed near historical trees in Santa Monica, Glendale and Pasadena, but Lacy said it was the local communities, not the City of Los Angeles, that installed them.
During the city’s initial assessment of the sidewalk repair problem, they had considered the option to detour the walkway around the roots of the trees, but determined that the areas in question are not wide enough to accommodate the needs of the disabled.
“When you talk about more narrow, we must have four-and-a-half feet to be ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act)-compliant, so they’re not going to make a three-foot sidewalk,” Lacy said.
“One of the thoughts was to remove all of the concrete and put a black top sidewalk over the roots and there’s more give to asphalt. I don’t know if they’ll do that, but that’s been another suggestion. I can pretty well assure you that the city has no intention of taking down those trees.”
Lacy said she is going to meet with Urban Forestry and Street Services in early September to further explore all possible repair options.
MINC President Allan DiCastro suggested creating a ranking system to prioritize problem sidewalks that need to be addressed within the community. On a list of all problem sidewalks in Mid-City, different point values would be assigned to categories relating to the trees involved and how dangerous the sidewalk has become.
Those categories, such as “high height,” “low height” and “historical,” would help put problem sidewalks on a descending list of condition. The system will be offered to the city as a suggested way to handle the growing issue, in order to help the city prioritize whether a sidewalk needs to be repaired quickly.
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I promised a now long-overdue summary on what transpired at last week’s MINC meeting regarding the issue of saving the trees along Washington Blvd. in Wellington Square. To put it mildly, Wellington Square rocked the meeting! We had 14 residents from our neighborhood in attendance (including Sylvia Lacy and myself – who technically had to be there for other reasons as well, but I’m counting us!) – which is more than the quorum of board members from MINC in attendance that night.At the meeting, we had a lively and thorough discussion of the issue – both of the need for the repair of our sidewalks along Washington, as well as the need to protect the historic trees that line the boulevard and make/keep them safe so that branches and other pieces of the trees will not fall into the roadway and injure anyone. Ed Struzik of Victoria Ave. actually showed up with a protest sign (supposedly from a conversation he had with the trees!) made of a saw – that implored “please don’t cut us down” – which got a big laugh from the other stakeholders and the board members. And as I already mentioned to those who attended, our show of force at the meeting really did shift the way things were going – we had a positive affect on how this whole thing will be approached. As Sylvia said at the meeting that night, CD-10 was already committed to work with the city to try to make sure that the trees didn’t come down, but all us being there last Monday night helped get MINC on the same page. Before the meeting, MINC was more concerned with the sidewalks, and the trees were secondary (or not a concern at all – hence, they could be cut down). After our discussion – and our strong show of support of the trees – that changed, and the trees will now be the focus of the sidewalk repair, at least along our stretch of Washington. In fact, MINC has decided to create a subcommittee to address the issue (something the other board members were surprised at since that rarely happens) – and it’s good for us, because it means that MINC will now be working to help save the trees as well – and that’s what we needed to have happen… we needed to get everyone, including MINC, on that same page. So, it’s not over – and we’ll need to work with the city to figure out how to deal with this. But, I think working together… we’ll be able to accomplish this. I’ve already spoken to Bruce Durbin, who chairs the PLUM committee which will head this subcommittee, and the groundwork will be laid at the PLUM meeting tomorrow night, which I plan to attend. I asked Bruce whether anyone from our neighborhood beside myself should be there, and he said he didn’t think it was necessary, and most of it will be procedural, and I can easily convey all of the details to the residents afterward. So, I’ll be sure to follow up with all of you in a further post to let you know what happens. Also, Sylvia said she’d let us know when the meeting with the Urban Foresters was going to be, on September 1st – so that some of us could attend that as well. I’ll be sure to pass along any information I have, as I get it. And lastly, our new WSIA president has formed a committee with several concerned residents who know much more about the trees and the city plans than even I do – and they plan to work with CD-10 and MINC to make sure that our trees are protected, as well as our sidewalks repaired – and some other issues including the maintenance of the medians along Wellington Rd. and the further care of the trees along 23rd Ave. (thanks to the Bowers family for their continued watering – they’re looking great!). Thanks again for all of you who showed up on a Monday night and gave of your time! It was so great to see everyone there! Way to go Region 3!!!