Discs of Despair mark the spot of a doomed forest in Elysian Heights

“Discs of Despair” are what Cindy Ortiz calls the metal tags nailed to the more than 50 trees that will most likely be cut down for the development of a wooded hillside near her Elysian Heights home. The fate of these tagged trees and scores of others was sealed Wednesday after the City Council rejected an appeal by Ortiz and other residents who have long opposed the project on what is called the Semi-Tropic Spiritualist Tract near Allesandro and Riverside Drive.

The type, size and value of the trees are described in an inventory commissioned by the developer and reflects the crazy variety of plants and trees growing side-by-side in Los Angeles: No. 6 is 30-inch wide Eucalyptus Globulus; No. 6 is 38-inch wide Pinus Pinea (pine tree); No. 11 is a Syagrus Romanzoffianum (palm tree). A few of the inventoried trees are protected native species, including oaks. But most are not and the developer can plant replacements for the larger trees that are cut down, said Diane Edwardson of the Corralitas Red Car Property blog. Those replacements, however, will likely be much smaller, she said, and will not match the size of the originals “in our lifetime.”

In addition, there are scores of smaller trees on the approximately three-acre site that are not included in the developer’s survey that will also likely be cut down, too. The wooded hillsides of Elysian Heights have long defined the neighborhood’s character and inspired artists, like wood engraver Paul Landacre, whose former home sits next to the development site. The developer, Henry Nunez, who has put the property up for sale after years of delays, and the city officials have worked to preserve some of the property’s rustic setting. But it’s clear that this leafy corner of Los Angeles will never look the same.

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