How to replant Echo Park’s urban forest – one tree at a time

Photo by Rhonda Reynolds

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.


  1. Does anybody know (ballpark) what a tree of that nature would cost?

  2. I have three trees I’d like to donate from Million Trees LA. They got delivered but I can’t plan them because the landlord hasn’t approved. I may have the species names somewhere, but please take my trees!

  3. If they left the stump, removal is a real pain. You need to be aware of the utilities in the sidewalk which might run beneath it. After getting that free city permit and noting where the utilities are, Tree People (I think it’s TP) gives away thousands of trees each year. One of their free trees might be on the approved species list.

  4. Ah Million Trees LA! Thanks Maria!

  5. Marie, I ‘d love to take those trees. We would like to plant them in front of the Jensen’s Recreation center near LeMoyne and Sunset. Please let me know how I cold pick them up from you. Thanx Renard

  6. Maria, not Marie—sorry! Renard

  7. Jeff – Hess Trees http://hesstrees.com/index.html delivers fully grown trees. contact them for an estimate request. This year a client of mine purchased (8) 30′ tall sycamore trees for $1300 each

  8. LA City has its sidewalk replacement trees at the Forestry Division right underneath the intersection of the I5 and 110 freeway at Avenue 20 (San Fernando) across the street from the Home Depot. I think it’s Glassell Park, not far at all from Echo Park.
    Someone knock on their door, I’m stuck in the office today.

  9. I’ve always wondered what all those trees were doing there…learn a little every day! Good luck to everyone with their trees.

  10. Cmon Daveed, you know you can’t plant a 60″ box or w/e those trees were to which you were referring.
    Depending on the species, a 15gal container plant at wholesale will run in the $40-80 range. You can get a 24″ box acacia stenophylla for $120 and thats a 12′ tree in the ground.

  11. We will need to get a City permit to plant the trees along the sidewalk. Not too difficult, but Street Trees are under the City’s jurisdiction and species needs to be on their “approved” list for urban environments. I think the EP Chamber can organize this, get the
    permits and then property owners/or residents can sign a commitment form to water and clear debris from the plantings that are located in front of their buildings. Last go round we worked with Northeast Trees to do planting and maintenance, hopefully they will be available soon as this is a great time of year to do plantings.

    Clearly the Chitalpa in retrospect was a poor choice for traffic heavy, trash laden Sunset. A more hearty variety next round should survive.


  12. Who’s going to stop business owners from hacking down their replacements? Many business owners are convinced that trees interfere with the visibility of their business.

  13. It’s easier to just guerrilla garden. Screw getting permits and buying trees! http://www.facebook.com/laguerrillagardening

  14. Keven is absolutely right, the city did this because someone complained about it! Deal with the eastside people and love it’s improfections!

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