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Silver Lake “Chandelier Tree” to go dark over permit problems [updated]

Silver Lake Chandelier tree

SILVER LAKE — Dripping with all sorts of crystal lamps and other light fixtures, what’s become known as The Chandelier Tree has attracted countless visitors to the corner of W. Silver Lake Drive and Shadowlawn Avenue to take photos and videos of the night-time light show. But it looks like the Chandelier Tree has been turned off and maybe for good.

Adam Tenenbaum, who turned the street tree in front of his house into a glowing neighborhood landmark, on Thursday announced on Facebook that The Chandelier Tree is “PERMANENTLY CLOSED. Pending Permitting.”

Tenenbaum did not exactly say what permits are needed. But added that the council office has been supportive and “positive about the prospects” regarding the permits.

The Eastsider has contacted Tenenbaum and the Council District 4 for more information.

“Breaks my heart but thats where we’re at,” Tenenbaum  said on The Chandelier Tree Facebook page.  “After 11 glorious years we may actually go dark forever.”

Tenenbaum, a set builder, started decorating the tree with lights  with three unwanted chandeliers left over from a project.  He had planned to hang them inside but his home proved too small. That’s what prompted Tenenbaum and his roommate to hang the fixtures from the tree, he said in a new video by  filmmaker Colin Kennedy.

“I apologize in advance if you show up & she’s off,” Tenenbaum said on Facebook.

Update: Mark Pampanin, a spokesman for Councilman David Ryu, said his office is working with Tenenbaum to obtain to complete the paperwork necessary to keep the trees (there are actually two trees strung with chandeliers), which is in the public right of way, illuminated. In fact, a hearing that could have resulted in Tenenbaum having to remove the lights has been postponed indefinitely as long as Tenenbaum seeks the proper permits, he said.

The hearing was prompted by complaints from some residents about the lights, potential risk and the evening crowds that gather by the tree, Tenenbaum.

“This is not a permitted use of the tree,” Pampanin said. But, at this point, “there are no plans to remove the Chandelier Tree [lights], I’m happy to report.”

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17 comments

  1. I’m sorry…The man can’t hang lights in his own tree in his own yard? WTF kind of permit do you need to hangs lights in a tree?

    • The tree is actually on the “parkway” that strip of land between the sidewalk and curb.

    • These lights look like they may be running off of line current (120 volts). If so, the LA specialization of the National Electrical Code (NEC) has various restrictions on the type of wire that can be used, how it can be attached to the tree, how splices may be done, how power may be conveyed from the house, etc. For very good reasons. If it’s low-voltage (12 volts), those rules don’t apply.

  2. I live up the hill from the Tree, and feel lucky to have something so special in my ‘hood. This kind of thing is an example of what makes Silver Lake Silver Lake. We are a community of mildly eccentric, good-humored folks, despite the recent influx of sullen, entitled trust-fund brats and other gentrifiers. (Anybody remember Walking Man?) If anything, we could use more lovely, original projects like Chandelier Tree, to remind newcomers they’re joining in a rich history of creative subversion when they cowhen they move into this area. I don’t know for certain any complaints have come from newcomers, but whether or not it’s the case, we need to lighten up (dumb pun) and do what we can to preserve projects like this and encourage others to create as well. KEEP SILVER LAKE ODD!

  3. Absolutely ridiculous.. I walk by multiple times a day and never are there “crowds”… what grouchy neighbor complained about such a pleasant piece of public art?

    There should be a minimum complaint requirement before the city decides to get involved and inevitably ruin things.. I’d wager that +95% of people within a mile radius enjoy the monument.

  4. If the whiney neighbors in Silver Lake want to complain about crowds, they should try living on the path between the Angelus Temple and the Dream Center. If there are legitimate safety concerns about the wiring, that is something that can be handled appropriately. Other than that, this installation is a city treasure and anyone who doesn’t like it can sell their home for a pretty profit and move to Kansas.

  5. I live near to the tree and walk by it often. I love it. If they want to make sure the electricals up to code to reduce the fire risk that’s great because I’d hate for something to happen to it or the houses around it but it would really be awful to shut it down And can’t understand how miserable someone would have to be to work to get it shut down

  6. I agree with everyone that this is a Silverlake gem and should be supported. If Adam Tenenbaum needs financial help with the proper electrical permitting I’m sure the community will rally to help out. Thanks Adam for adding some public art to Silverlake!

    • Adam’s a licensed electrician so I’m sure it’s permitted. It’s just about the dangers to passersbys on city property.

  7. Let’s get this safe so the tree doesn’t catch fire and so that no person gets shocked and get this happy beacon shining bright again. Many children in the neighborhood call Mr. Tenembaum’s tree the “giving tree.”

  8. The same people complaining about this tree and traffic are the same ones trying to rip out the bike lane on the Rowena Road Diet. If you’ve found yourself supporting the latter, you’ve witnessed the knife cutting both ways.

  9. What kind of lowlife scumbag complains about such a beautiful public service? They rather live in a bland and dark world? Go back to where you came from then! This is Silverlake man! We’re artists here. We’re creators here, not destroyers! I hope whoever it was is reading this and has a real long look in the mirror and asks themselves why? Why would you want to take away from so many people’s happiness? Because you’re miserable? If that’s the case, GO SPEND SOME TIME LOOKING AT THIS TREE!
    It’s obviously not an electrical issue, the things been up for 11 yrs!

  10. Without admitting to it, it may have been the office of the City Councilperson which generated the initial complaint call that resulted in the Chandelier Tree shut down pending application and approval of permits.

    The reasoning behind taking this whimsical neighborhood site offline is prudence and practicality.

    While the Chandelier Tree has become a source of inspiration and joy to the neighborhood residents and to visitors from around the world, its popularity has also made it the source of potential liability to the City of Los Angeles.

    If a tree branch holding a chandelier were to break off, fall and cause injury to a person standing below – the City can expect to receive a claim for damages and a lawsuit.

    AN even greater risk is the possibility of an individual or a group getting run over and injured by an automobile.

    The Chandelier Tree is listed and recommended in resource guides used by out-of-town visitors.
    Some of these tourists will stand in the road in order to photograph the Chandelier Tree at night.
    Although the tree itself is lit up, the sidewalk and road below remain quite dark after sunset.

    Obviously, anyone standing in the road is guilty of some pedestrian infraction.
    A driver obeying the traffic rules who ran over that person(s) because they couldn’t be seen would be found innocent and not responsible for the injuries.

    However, the City of Los Angeles would almost certainly face a claim for damages and costly lawsuits.
    Because the City is aware of the longstanding popularity of the Chandelier Tree and the recurring tendency of tourists to gather in the road to view and photograph the tree, the City would likely be found negligent if it fails to take some action to prevent the accident and injury which can be anticipated to occur.

    The potential loss to L.A. City taxpayers could reach millions of $$.

    One of the duties of the councilperson is to predict and preclude the occurrence of such an incident.

    • That seems farfetched. The city is never that proactive. Certainly no councilperson or their staff are. Also have you looked at the sidewalks throughout the city? The city doesn’t care at all about liability. It pays out slip and fall settlements all the time and doesn’t care enough to even repair the sidewalk stretches that people have broken bones on.

    • This is just an argument to ban everything everywhere. You could use the exact same argument for any interesting architectural feature. That’s a faulty chain of causation here.

      Also, the fact that the tree has held up for years with the chandeliers is a “proof of concept” showing.

  11. while all this attention is going on, maybe get an arborist to take a good look at the tree’s health and take the steps necessary to keep it green and growing.

  12. What a friendly man to want to put light in all our dark night .
    Those who decide to darken up such a magnificent tree whose roots have kept strong keeping the light glowing. With hopes and prayers to have those with power to feel remorseful and restor the lights on the tree and to see that it was put with good intention so that people may see how blessed we are to no the light beaming in this big dark planet. Thanks to a man and his beautiful tree .

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