The chitalpa tree planted outside of Neil Schield’s Echo Park record shop was in sad shape when a city crew, responding to a complaint, showed up on Wednesday afternoon to chop it down. The tree’s skinny trunk and scraggly branches were leaning so badly over the Sunset Boulevard sidewalk that it was deemed “structurally deficient” by the city’s Urban Forestry Division and was quickly cut down and hauled away. Now, all that’ s left is a trunk stub covered by a white and orange barricade that is plunked in the middle of a barren square of dirt. It’s not a pretty sight. Said Schield:
It’s sad because we talk at our Chamber of Commerce meetings about getting more trees planted along this strip to make this shopping district more appealing and now we’ve lost the largest and most mature street on our block. The workers claim a new one could be planted but it would take a long time to get that done due to budget constraints and bureaucracy.
The city does lack the resources to get a tree replanted quickly but private individuals can help fill the gap, said the city’s Chief Forester, George Gonzalez.
In the past, the city would have replanted the street tree, Gonzalez said. But, in light of tighter budgets, replanting such trees is a low priority. Gonzalez’ department often turns to the Million Trees L.A. program to replant trees. But Million Trees has a backlog of requests and focuses on planting large numbers of trees in areas that had none. So, replacing a single chitalpa on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park is going to end up at the bottom of a priority list.
Gonzalez said the fastest way to replace that tree is by having a private individual or business apply for a free city permit and then purchase a tree from a list of species approved for sidewalks and public rights of way.
It’s the same process that can be used to replant all those other missing trees on Sunset Boulevard.