Saturday, August 30, 2014

Riverside Drive: At Least 15 Protected Native Trees Cut Down Without Permits

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 28, 2014.  At least 15 protected native trees were cut down without permits, on the vacant Riverside Drive lots adjacent to the Red Car Property.  A mystery City inspector put a stop to the carnage shortly after 9 AM Friday.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 29, 2014.  When Urban Forestry arrived on the scene, the crew was long gone, along with the trees they shredded.  The inspector from Urban Forestry counted 14 freshly cut Southern California Black Walnut stumps & 1 Coast Live Oak .  Of course they started with the healthy trees, leaving behind the dead & dying native Blue Elderberry Trees.
Photo: MLS, November 2013.  While the Black Walnuts in this shot had already begun dropping their leaves for fall, you can see there were quite a number of trees on those lots.

According to public tax records, the vacant Riverside Drive lots recently sold.  It seems most developers today immediately cut down every tree on the vacant Hillside lot the minute they take ownership of the land.  This creates a mudslide danger in the rainy season (particularly when they're forecasting El Nino this year.)  

It shows a disregard for the rules on protected native trees in the City of Los Angeles.  The native tree species protected by the ordinance are at risk of disappearing due to overdevelopment of our hillsides.  Native trees help hold our crumbling hillsides together & provide habitat for native wildlife.  They are also some of the few species that do well in drought.

There is a difference between hillside brush clearance & a complete clear cutting of a property.  Leave the trees until you are ready to build, then apply for the appropriate permits.  (Mature trees are an asset to your development, and indeed it is a reason many people want to live in our neighborhood - design around them whenever possible.)  

It will be brought up in the public hearing process that you showed a callous disregard for the rules & the community, by cutting down protected native trees without a permit.

Considering our Legacy of Failed Development in the area, no native tree removal permits should be issued when there is a pending development application prior to grading & building permits being approved, paid for, and issued.   

We will be revisiting this topic as we have an extensive photo archive of the area trees.