The tree that outgrew Echo Park

There’s some good and bad news for Echo Park ficus fans. Four of the large trees that loom over the north side of Sunset Boulevard between Echo Park Avenue and Logan Street will be trimmed and pruned but not removed as originally planned under  a street and sidewalk improvement program.  But apparently one of Sunset Boulevard’s largest ficus, which rises like a green cloud in the 1500 block of Sunset Boulevard between McDuff Street and Laveta Terrace,  remains on the chopping block.

Christine Peters with Council District 13 posted an update on the Echo Elysian Forum about the approximately three-dozen trees that will be cut down and replaced with new trees  considered more suitable for city streets and less likely to cause sidewalk damage.  While the city’s Bureau of Street Services agreed to a request to spare the trees on Sunset between Echo Park Avenue and Logan Street, the giant ficus on the 1500 block has grown too big to be  pruned.

The ficus is about 40-feet high, towering above a lamppost that has been swallowed up in a tangle of leaves and branches.  A thick, white trunk scarred with tagging supports a canopy that spreads out about 65-feet wide, blotting out the sun, smushing up and over the two-story buildings and reaching nearly half way across Sunset Boulevard.  At the base, the tree’s roots have buckled the sidewalk and shifted pieces of concrete.

Peters, on the Echo Elysian Forum said:

The one very large Ficus at McDuff in front of Dr. Perez’s office will remain posted [for removal]. It was determined to be too large to safely root prune and not risk tipping over.

A public hearing will be scheduled to allow residents to weigh in on the tree removal, according to black-and-white notices from the city’s Urban Forestry Division  that have been taped to the 37 trees that will be cut down. A hearing date has not yet been set but the Bureau of Street Services expects the tree cutting to begin in 60 to 90 days.

Residents who would like to be notified of the public hearing can sign up online by clicking here.


  1. Thank you Christine Peters with Council District 13. This is great to hear! I understand that some trees have to be removed because roots have come up and destroyed the side walks. I don’t understand the needless reasons to remove them just because they is too much maintenance involved. I mean what are we accomplishing by the needless killing of trees just to put in new ones?
    Finally, someone in the district who is using their brains. Do you handle El Sereno??? That area sure could use your brains and cleaning up thoughts.

    • JR – Can you please elaborate on the El Sereno problems?

      • I’m talking about the same issue on over grown trees breaking the sidewalks in addition to over growing trees covering street lighting, trees so low that you have to crouch down to go underneath them. Since you are asking me to elaborate on the El Sereno problems, also the trash on Eastern St near Huntington (next to that Thai restaurant bus stop), the trash and furniture dumping left by the residents in front of those section 8 apartment buildings at Collis/Harriman and S. Huntington Drive, the constant tagging on S. Huntington Drive. Shall I go on? LOL


  3. Please tell me tree trimming will be handled with aesthetics in mind and not done the usual LA way – trimmed down to a trunk and a few bare, ugly stumps.

    Great news, though! The ficus is not my favorite, but I appreciate the size and shade and I think they’ll look just fine when thinned out a little.

  4. I’ve always noticed how humongous this tree is, I never could figure out what the business is behind it since the tree covers up all the signage. Does A Grocery use it for storage?

    The ficus tree at the corner of Laveta and Allison is quite large as well.

  5. I disagree that the tree at McDuff needs to be removed. The sidewalk between the tree and the building (the part people walk on) is hardly effected by the roots and is very smooth. The tree is big, beautiful and provides a break from the unrelenting sun on that otherwise barren stretch. Click on the overhead image and try to find the next tree- none on that block or the next. You have to cross Echo Park Ave. I cant believe the tagging on the tree is cited as a reason to remove it. Do we really want a better view of the ugly bars on the windows of the business behind the tree? That is one of the ugliest buildings anywhere. Take a look at the picture at the top of the article and imagine removing the tree. We need to keep these trees!
    “A thick, white trunk scarred with tagging supports a canopy that spreads out about 65-feet wide, blotting out the sun, smushing up and over the two-story buildings and reaching nearly half way across Sunset Boulevard”
    I think the real reason some want that tree gone (they might not even be aware this is the reason so no hard feelings) is it often smells like urine because the people leaving the bars break the law as they walk home or to their cars. Fix That! How about a light? Don’t cut down a venerable tree that is older than any of us. The hasty removal of the trees on Echo Park Ave. was a disgrace. Don’t repeat the mistake.

    • well said Paul B. In addition, the cuttings of these trees make for feed for the LA zoo animals. I believe it was previously reported here that some guys prunes the trees for free and takes the cuttings to the animals at the zoo or someplace. So… no city money wasted on trimming?

    • I’m with you. People rarely stop to think of the ecogicsl ramifications before they destroy things. Animals live in those trees. If you take away the tree
      where will the birds and insects go. Everything in life is contingent upon some other thing. That tree creates oxygen. It houses small animals that could perish without shelter. Do you know how long it takes up grow a 100 year old tree?

  6. Good Lord, this tree is beautiful! I love this tree. Every time i go past this tree i notice how LARGE and wonderful it is.

    I love it more than a smooth sidewalk. A lot more. So there’s a crack in the sidewalk.. who cares?? Step over it! And don’t give me the “but old people…” excuse. screw old people, they are suffering anyway. It’s just as hard to step off a curb as to step over a crack. When i’m old i’ll feel the same.

    The corner of Echo Park and Sunset is crap with that sad twig of a tree as it’s replacement. Who comes to worship the 4 feet of smooth concrete that lives in the tree’s absence?

    “No one cares about the trees anymore”…

  7. Why is it Los Angeles feels a need to level anything that is old (by its own standards) in the name of progress. I’ve always admired the sheer size of that tree, and the fact that the city had let it grow so large to this point. Its overhand does obscure the traffic light, but I appreciate the shade it offers to walkers, myself included, on that stretch. The junction of Echo Park Ave. and Sunset looks terribly barren without the row of trees that were cut down a few months ago. At least the Echo Park Lake has made a comeback. #crankytreelover

  8. this tree has been the shade for my office for over 4 years that i’ve been at this location. it is quite sad to see it go…

    Are there any arborists artists out there that would be interested in sculpting it into a bunny head or a boar’s head? lets have a farewell party!!

  9. So, I don’t get it. The city has money to waste on this tree cutting / replacement project but they don’t have the money to come and cut some branches that are covering up the street lights in my neighborhood!!??? This is BS!

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