Tuesday, February 10, 2009

CORAL TREES: Expo Phase 2

For the last two evenings I have attended meetings including presentations by the Planning and Community Development Department (PCD) of Phase 2 of the Exposition Light Rail Project- for a light rail from downtown LA to Santa Monica Pier. The first presentation was given specifically for Treesavers- the reason being that one of the proposed plans entails running the last stage of the rail down Olympic Boulevard and cutting down 44 of the extraordinary Coral trees lining the central, grassy median.

These Coral trees are quite unique: standing in single file they are like a wonderful arrangement of amazing, organic sculptures. Olympic Boulevard on the South side of the City reflects San Vicente Boulevard on the North side, both having similar patterns of these exceptional trees and thus defining and giving identity to the City. In the 1960's the trees on San Vicente were threatened but saved by a committee led by Mayor Clo Hoover (instrumental in the original planting of the Ficus Trees on 2nd and 4th Streets) and including Treesaver Carol Purcell. Coral trees even became the official tree of Los Angeles in 1966 and certain trees on San Vicente were granted Historic-Cultural status.

The second meeting to have the Presentation was tonight at City Hall, at a City Council meeting. The great thing about this meeting was that for once we- the public and Treesavers- were not opposed by the City Councilmembers. The alternative route for this last stage of the rail was down Colorado Avenue and this was unaminously agreed to be the best alternative- largely because it would be a danger to schoolchildren on Olympic and would include an expensive raised segment. However, in this instance the City do not have the authority to make the final decision- this is in the hands of PCD. But at least we have the City behind us with a strong case for Colorado, which does not depend on often ignored environmental and aesthetic reasons.