Echo Park’s ficus forest gets a bit smaller

Before: Ficus above pictured above in a 2011 Google Maps photo. After: The same spot pictured below after the tree was cut down.

A crew from the city’s Bureau of Street Services spent this morning cutting down an approximately 35-foot high ficus tree at the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, the most recent of the big trees to come down at the busy intersection. A second nearby ficus will be cut down on Sunday in preparation for sidewalk repairs and other bus stop improvements, said a member of the city’s Urban Forestry Division, which was supervising the tree removal.  The Urban Forestry employee, who did not want his name published, said an arborist had determined that the pair of ficus would become to unstable once construction began of the new sidewalk and bus stop.  While the ficus’ thick canopy shaded bus riders and vendors from the sun, their roots had cracked and buckled the sidewalk.  It was not known if new trees would be planted in the same location next to the Walgreens parking lot, said the city worker.

“It would have been nice to leave the trees but you have got to think about public safety,” he said.

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  1. Ouch. Really sad, those trees were beautiful in a part of the neighorhood that needs all the shade it can get.

  2. Ficus should never be planted under utility lines.

  3. My bet is those utility lines were there after the ficus was planted? How fast can a ficus get that big?

  4. Interesting that the very same beautiful, huge Ficus thrive just fine in Pasadena on streets like Green and Orange Grove to name a few.

    • If you remember the huge wind storm a while back those were the same trees that toppled and cluttered much of Green Street. I hate to see trees be removed but hopefully something will replace it that makes more sense there.

  5. Typical of the way this city is operated. Cut down trees with no plans to replace it.

    Had the so-called “arborist” cared, he could have ordered them to trim the trees back (severely) to mitigate the danger of instability. Within a year or two they would have regrown, but typical “gubbament” employee, he chose the easiest for him. Now we get a nice big hole. Who cares right? What an a-hole.

  6. The city is on like a 4-5 year cycle on trimming tree that’s way too long to leave ficus trees untrimmed for. Simply put the city cant afford to main these types of trees. Slower growing trees, yes. Ficus is great for parks and gardens not so much for city streets, especially one that can’t afford to maintain them.

  7. I work in Pasadena and the ficus do indeed cause major problems. They uplift sidewalks, causing inaccessibility and issues for people in wheelchairs and with sight problems, create sumps where water pools and attracts mosquitos and other disease carrying organisms, and infiltrate sewer and storm drain lines, causing devastating backups into homes and businesses. The berries they drop cause additional issues as they get stomped by pedestrians and form a slime which makes the sidewalks impassable. The city pays hundreds of thousands a year in maintenance to infrastructure and even more in lawsuits by trip and fall events and handicapped ‘advocates’. When Pasadena removed them from Colorado Boulevard, it blew up into a huge political issue because of people who complain without knowing the facts. Ficus trees are beautiful but there couldn’t be a worse choice for an urban tree. We all love ficus trees but please educate yourself because wringing your hands over the loss of these trees.

  8. Good point, Kyle. I understand the issues with Ficus and understand they are not ideal trees for sidewalks, but my problem is that these trees are rarely ever replaced and when they are, they are rarely watered nor tended to. I would much rather have a huge tree that provides shade for folks waiting at the bus with sidewalk upkeep rather than NO TREE with a hole where it once was. The minute these trees are cut down, a crew should follow with a suitable tree immediately planted and then looked after, but that RARELY happens in our hood. They replaced all the trees on Colorado in Pasadena and on Mission in South Pasadena within weeks and they look beautiful. Echo park needs MORE trees, not LESS.

    • Totally agree Katrina! The trees should be replaced. There are a lot of good choices for urban canopy. Cmon LA, trees are not that expensive. Pasadena funds most of their trees through grant programs – does LA not pursue these same grants?

  9. Thank you Katrina. You said it well. They cut them down and never replace them.
    I’m interested in whether they really replaced the trees cut down to allow the shuttle to be moved to the Science museum. I just feel our values are axx-backwards. Echo Park needs more trees!!

  10. Sometimes our community takes 1 step forward and then 2 steps back:( Please email Scott Shimatsu at [email protected]. He was taking surveys and comments from the community regarding ECHO PARK beautification so our calls or emails could help replace those trees! Trees are one of the biggest things that help beautify a street. The main thoroughfares in Echo Park are in dire need of them. That is why sections like Sunset and Alvarado look the way it does. This stretch of Sunset at least had those trees to keep it looking like a concrete Jungle. Please contact our city leaders and put pressure on them. When we are silent…..nothing gets done for us!

  11. Ficus are just really crappy sidewalk or parkway trees. Replace!

  12. Drove by while they were in mid-butchery this morning. We need trees there!

  13. 13epyearsandcounting

    Kyle is exactly right. Unfortunately it was beyond misguided to plant non native ficus throughout the city. They are so invasive they destroy foundations, sidewalks, streets and sewers and are so fast growing the city can’t/won’t maintain them. We’re not talking about a little annoying crack, we’re talking safety issues and tens of thousands of dollars in damage that the city refuses to repair or pay for and lawsuits once someone gets hurt. I’m surprised though that urban forestry even agreed to take them out, they have fought with zeal not to cut them before even in the face of building and safety telling them they should. Replacing them with a native tree or a tree well suited to an urban environment would be best all the way around. Will they replace them and maintain the replacements? That’s the real issue.

  14. Thumbs up from here for Kyle and ‘off the street’. Although beautiful, these trees need pruning and care, and even then their roots are invasive. I hope the city takes this opportunity to select a beautiful and more appropriate tree for the space, and then properly maintain it.

  15. Income Property Los Angeles

    Way to use Google archives for evidence! 😉

  16. absolutely criminal — why does los angeles hate trees?

  17. Any information about the 6-7 shots fired last night around 2-2:30am in the area of Reservoir and Mohawk? It definitely sounded like two shooters.

    • wonder if that would have anything to do with the massive amount of tagging in EP, or the giant gathering of gang members this afternoon in front of Chango. keeping up a presence I suppose.

  18. Kyle, lets get the facts straight.
    The ficus trees were removed from Colorado St, Pasadena not because of what you are saying regarding the trees. It was because of lot of the businesses were complaining that the trees were covering up their business signs.

    Great example of the wrong trees being planted on the parkways is, with the incident of when the windstorm hit Pasadena, the majority of the new trees were down with the wind, but the ficus trees stood their ground. What an irony, don’t you think?

    Ficus trees do require a little bit of more attention with the roots, the problem with Echo Park District ficus trees is, they have been abandoned from getting the appropriate trimming of the roots. There is no reason for the ficus trees to have been cut down.

  19. Stacy, you have no idea what you’re talking about. On what authority do you speak of tree removal in Pasadena? Pasadena has a citizen-staffed urban advisory board that makes the process of street tree removal extremely difficult, and ‘that tree is blocking my sign’ would not pass muster with them. And I was closely involved in the windstorm cleanup – trees of all stripes were knocked down, that happens when you have hurricane force winds. Plenty of ficus were downed as well, because they have an extremely shallow root system, so they weren’t even anchored that well.

    I’ve already stated that I love the ficus trees, but you don’t have to make up some conspiracy theory to explain why they were removed in Pasadena. It’s a simple tale – they are abysmal street trees for all of the reasons I mentioned above.

    • You don’t randomly remove mature canopy. Especially in densely populated bust stops, needing shade. You do a Streetscape Plan, predetermine replacement trees, and then post the trees for removal, as required by law. None of this was done. This was a classic example of City Agencies not speaking to one another. This was approved by the Board of Public Works over a year ago, and so far, No One is laying claim to having filed the request. No one at CD 13 was aware of this removal, and the ongoing Streetscape Design Project was planning on enlarging these tree wells, and repairing the concrete, NOT remove the trees. This is a classic bureaucratic mess……..Of course, most of the BPW is no longer there- Choi resigning to run for CD 13 and Alarcon for “personal reasons”…..


  20. Echo Park beautification on the march! Now mabye they can put some horse heads on poles and add mosaic crosswalks. So glad there’s a cohesive plan. Brilliant! Congrats Garcetti!

  21. The ficus is a mistake as far as urban trees go. Hv several older members of fam who are now on canes or walkers, and what a ficus does to a pavement is criminal, dangerous. Sorry to see them go but they had to go.

  22. Angeleno Heightster

    The Russians tried to conquer the Afghans by cutting down all of the trees in Kabul. They wanted the populace overheated, weak and visible from their attack helicopters. Just saying…

  23. You can’t blame this on Garcetti. He was too busy running for mayor to tend to his responsibilities as the councilperson for CD 13.

  24. I agree that Ficus Trees are bad for sidewalks, but now that corner looks horrible and the people at the bus stop are going to fry in the sun. If you want the tree replaced, don’t waste your time bitching, send a polite letter to [email protected].

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