Trees fall and cops are called to Elysian Heights*

Residents at the far north edge Elysian Heights were greeted Wednesday morning by the sound of buzz saws and cracking tree branches and trunks. Crews had begun to chop down a forest of pine, eucalyptus and other trees on an approximately three-acre parcel near Allesandro and El Moran Street where a developer plans to build 15 homes. Last year, the developer, Developer Planet Home Living, was granted permission to chop down more than 40 native trees on the site.  But the Board of Public Works required that Planet Home could only start chopping down trees after it had purchased grading and building permits,  a condition neighbors had insisted on after watching other developers mow down trees for homes, condos and apartments that were never built. Police officers called to the scene allowed the workers to continue after they showed a tree cutting permit issued by the city’s Department of Urban Forestry, according to one resident.  But apparently the necessary building and grading permits had not been granted.

Today, the grassy hillside, crisscrossed with orange plastic netting around native trees protected by city ordinance, was silent and littered with sawed off branches and tree stumps Meanwhile, city officials are trying to determine what went wrong.

Julie Wong, a spokeswoman for Councilman Eric Garcetti, said in an email on Wednesday:

We are currently working with the Department of Public Works and the Department of Building and Safety to investigate the situation to see whether the developer is in violation of the terms of their agreement.  Tomorrow morning, representatives of our office and Building and Safety will meet with the developer’s wildlife consultant and a few of the community members who have been involved.

Developer Planet Home Living said it needed to cut down the trees to stabilize and grade a slope on the property.  Planet Home said it will plant more than 160 replacement trees and also create a trail that will remain open to the public.

* Update: After this morning’s meeting ,the Department of Public Works, under Commissioner Andrea Alarcon’s direction, is ordering a cease and desist on additional tree removal until the department can review the terms of the developer’s requirements to receive tree removal permits, said Wong in an email today. In addition, “the developer has voluntarily ceased further tree removal and brush clearance on the site” pending a consultant’s report on wildlife in the immediate area. “The City of LA is also moving to retain a consultant to provide us with another analysis (one not paid for by the developer) of the wildlife situation.”


  1. Lovely. Can’t trust these developers .

  2. How did this happen? According to the Property Activity Report , today, on the B&S website for 2055 ELMORAN, the developer mangaged to get building permits for 2 of the 14 homes: “FOR MODEL HONE ONLY, THE FINAL BUILDING PERMIT SHALL BE UNDER SEPARATE SUPPLEMENTAL PERMIT” on 1-11-12.

    However, a check of their grading and retaining wall permits indicate none have been secured.

    I’m not sure how you can get a building permit to build in a hillside area without a grading permit. It sounds like they need to show something to investors to appear to be moving forward so they got the “model home” permitted, which is not a final building permit, and used that to show Public Works/Urban Forestry that they’d been granted building permits.

    Lesson – if the community isn’t prepared with an extremely detailed written order of how things should happen and the City Council office isn’t willing to pay attention an ensure those details get written into every approval, you are screwed. Or, be prepared to hire an attorney from Day 1.

    • You nailed it, Diane.

      Those developers sound like attorneys. It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.

      They found a loophole, and poker-faced their way through the permitting office to get around the covenant they had with the community. (either that or greased someone’s palms, another highly plausible explanation). Either way, this can be seen as firing the first shot, and the neighborhood better be ready for a fight.

      I also wonder, how long will it be before this hillside slides?

  3. Those Trees were here before both Herbal Smoke; And Eric Garcetii !

  4. This pisses me off to no end. Arghhh!!!

  5. Developer = pirate. A pox on their houses.

  6. These developers are such dishonest, ruthless jerks — and our city “representatives” so ineffective, spineless and corrupt. I mean, honestly, Garcetti’s office: how more useless can you be? How anyone can have any respect for this man is a total mystery to me.

    Really really depressing.

  7. Good thing those neighbors were alert. The trees would have been cut down and that would have been that

  8. Garcetti is a total disaster as a Councilmember, let’s just hope and work really hard to make sure he never gets to be Mayor.

  9. The idea that the developer is ceasing “voluntarily” is a little ridiculous considering that how many trees they chopped down today.

    There’s not much left. Here’s some video I shot in the evening —

    Not sure if embed will work but link is : http://youtu.be/bGBj46ro7oQ

  10. …”the developer has voluntarily ceased further tree removal and brushed clearance on the site”…

    Uhhhhhhh, I doubt it.

    All this destruction right in the middle of Mr. Garcetti’s mayoral campaign, too. Nice!!!!!!

  11. The current mayor is attempting to plant a million trees. Meanwhile, the City has no budget to maintain existing trees AND no teeth at B&S to have this developer doing what he is supposed to do. Obtain grading permits BEFORE any trees are removed. I sure hope this will fall under the scorched earth.

  12. Garcetti is asleep at the wheel, and this bozo wants to be mayor!?

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