Silver Lake hacked off after billboard company has trees cut back

trees at sunset triangle plaza

SILVER LAKE —  It’s not common knowledge but billboard companies have the right under city law to get a permit to trim street trees that block their signs. But in Silver Lake, angry residents said one billboard company went too far when it had several trees cut back at Sunset Triangle Plaza last month without the necessary permits. Now, some fear that the trees in the small public green space were so badly “butchered” that they will die, according to the L.A. Weekly. Meanwhile, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell  has called it an “act of vandalism” as the City Attorney looks into the matter to see if any laws were violated, says the L.A. Times.

Outfront Media, which owns the billboard atop Condor (formerly El Conquistador) restaurant, says it hired a contractor to trim the trees. But the contractor failed to pull the necessary permits and was fired as a result.  O’Farrell said that the billboard company has offered to replace the trees and make other improvements. But some residents say that is not enough and have started a petition demanding “Accountability for Tree Vandalism.

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  1. Revoke the tree trimmers license, and prosecute Haj Shimada at Outfront media with felony vandalism.

  2. ?? And FIRST is it even a LEGAL billboard?!!???!

  3. Please sign the petition!
    this guy is a liar and corporate shill. he cant look at a tree no matter what happened to it and tell there’s a problem

    Ryan Brooks, Outfront Media’s senior vice president for government affairs declined to say whether he agrees with residents who portray the tree-trimming work as a “hatchet job.”

    “I’m not an arborist, I wouldn’t know,” he said. “I could see this tree and I wouldn’t know one tree from the next tree.

    Clearly they are not going to do the right thing on their own. Keep the pressure on the city attorney and Mitch Ofarrell

  4. Perhaps it’s time for someone to do a little billboard vandalism. Just hire a “contractor” … and you too can dodge the blame.

  5. Shameless corporate greed and lawlessness. They should be prosecuted and fined heavily to the full extent of the law.

  6. Punishment should also include REMOVAL OF BILLBOARD,
    and I don’t care if the property owner gets monthly rent for it… too bad.

  7. First, billboard owners do not have a RIGHT to get a permit to trim street trees that block the view of their signs. It is not a right, they simply are allowed to seek permission, by seeking a permit. Its similar to any property owner being allowed to seek such a s permit for trees in front of their property, for a justified reason.

    Also, this petition instead should be seeking to change the city law that allows blocking the view of a billboard to be reason to justify giving a permit to trim trees. As far as I’m concerned, any time there is a conflict between a healthy tree and a billboard, the tree should always win. (I’m sure the billboard lovers in City Hall will say that would be an unconstitutional taking,but that is just BS, they simply want the donations form the billboard lobbyists.)

    Also, can someone tell me how you fire a tree-trimming contractor after the job is done? And why do I doubt that his contract including a requirement that he get the permit? Nonetheless, it is still the responsibility of Outfront Media to make sure there is a permit before work is done, no matter what any contract with the tree trimmer says.

    Also, those were not street trees, they were on the opposite side of the sidewalk from the street! So even if a billboard company has a right to trim street trees,, they had no right to touch those trees at all. Has triangle plaza been designated as a park? If so, those trees, are not street trees, they are in a park.

    Lastly, I was by there and looked them over today. They are shorter and thinned some, but otherwise the trimming was not a bad job, despite the hype in the LA Times and in this article. Frankly, it was much better done than most trimming you see around LA, where they cut everything back to the trunk. There is nothing done there that is going to kill a tree — that’s just a dishonest allegation, if you look at the job that was done. But of course, it might allow the offending trees to be taken out altogether, and be replaced by some saplings that won’t be even as much as the trimmed trees for another 20 or more years.

    • Anything stopping you from starting a petition? As far as the health of the trees a park services a city employee whose actual job it is unlike you said the tree where pruned so badly they where “in danger” and he is monitoring them. Sonar the very least they shouldn’t be putting tree ps in danger with their hack job.

    • Alas, trees do not make big $$ campaign contributions to city council members. Billboard companies do. And apparently they get a lot for their money, since the LA City Council has refused to enforce existing billboard laws for … decades.

    • You can’t just look at a trimmed tree and say “eh, it’s not so bad”… tree trimming is a tricky thing, and some trees can weather a bad trimming and others cannot. This is why most reasonable people hire experienced tree-trimmers.
      Thin it out– without killing it or causing it to go into shock. It may not be rocket science but it is a learned art.
      The billboard company clearly hired the cheapest trimmer they could find, not the most competent.

  8. The continued hacking of street trees like this is a real problem throughout our City. I’m impressed that the people of Silver Lake have been able to get their council member to commit to trying to do something to solve the problem. I very much hope the hacking of these park trees is the final straw and that a real solution is put into place.

    It is already illegal to hack at trees like this. The City has standards for tree trimming in place but our dysfunctional city does NOTHING to enforce the rules that are already in place..

    There has been a big rash of similar tree hacking going on in Eagle Rock but their council member Jose Huizar has been nothing but silent even after the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council sent him a letter asking him to address the problem and after a community letter writing campaign. It probably doesn’t help the tree protecting cause that Huizar gets a great deal of free advertising from the billboard companies at election times…….

  9. Priscilla Luther-Heft

    The billboard ought to be changed to a clear exposee of those who did the damage, both the billboard owner and the incompetent tree hackers. Trees are more resiliant than expected. When the trees have grown back to the point that the billboard can’t be read easily, then the sign could be changed.

    • Some trees can be resilient, and I hope these ones are. That’s, of course, not the point. The point is to hold these billboard companies to a legal standard. If they break the law, their billboard should be removed, never to be replaced. Period. We still have a huge amount of unpermitted billboards in this city – including this one – which our current corrupt city council won’t have removed. I’d vote starting with this one.

  10. Frankly, I’d be happy if all billboards in the area were taken down. They pollute the neighborhood visually, and they do nothing to generate jobs.

  11. According to city records the billboard is not permitted. Perhaps checking city records on how much the billboard company has donated our council member. Will the City Atty have enough backbone to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law (not likely). What sort of slap on the wrist will the city and the council member come up with? Stay tuned.

    • I wish the unpermitted status would have been added to the current petition. But permitted or not, I think any act of vandalism by a billboard company should result in the billboard structure being dismantled. Unfortunately, not one city council member will enforce the laws regarding unpermitted billboards. If pressed, they’ll get some $$ from the billboard company and then grandfather in their unpermitted tired billboards. Our city council is, like most around the nation, very corrupt.

  12. For those interested in this issue there is a rather scandalous history. The City Council voted unanimously in 2009 to start enforcing fines for the vandalizing of street trees but nothing happened after that vote. The speculation is the billboard companies squashed the move in back rooms. For whatever reason the City Attorney and other city agencies ignored the City Council motion and the City Council let the matter go.

    An LA Times article about it:


    The original motion:


    A similar subsequent motion put through by Tom LeBonge that again resulted in nothing happening:


    A letter written by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council asking Huizar to act on the motions the City Council previously adopted. There was no response on this from Huizar:


  13. The white large tree looks like a California Native Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa) which is a state protected tree. If so they should be prosecuted.

    Protected Tree –

    Any of the following Southern California native tree species, which measures four inches or more in cumulative diameter, four and one-half feet above the ground level at the base of the tree:

    (a) Oak tree including Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) and California Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), or any other tree of the oak genus indigenous to
    California but excluding the Scrub Oak (Quercus dumosa).

    (b) Southern California Black Walnut (Juglans californica var. californica)

    (c) Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

    (d) California Bay (Umbellularia californica)

    link here to city planning page

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