Friday, June 22, 2012

Santa Monica City Hall: Junipers Last Days

In October 2011,  I wrote at some length of the lost fight to save Santa Monica's magnificent, sculptural Juniper trees- see Link.   Sadly, in the next few days these trees will be gone.  The four trees flanking the entrance now have the dreaded red-taped "Tree Removal Notification" attached to them:

This means they will be cut down- it being declared their roots are too intertwined with the structure of the building to re-locate them.  The two trees towards the sidewalk will be re-located to a new park that is being built.  Thus a wonderful city image will be lost- these fantastic, wild, dark silhouettes against the very elegant white Art Deco (or Deco Moderne) Landmarked building, to be replaced by a nondescript landscape design.  Here are some images of what we are losing:

Apart from the visual impact of the Junipers, they are valuable environmentally, being evergreen, drought tolerant and sustainable. Their replacements will be deciduous pollarded Western Sycamores...

Although yesterday I joined fellow Treesavers in a demonstration to mark the removal of these trees, we were unable to make an Appeal to save them, owing to a clause in the new Urban Forest Master Plan (which I, among others, objected to at meetings).  This states that: "Tree removal appeals do not apply to trees that have been identified for removal as a part of a City initiated public improvement project as defined in the Urban Forest Master Plan".

Apart from the loss of the Junipers, I find it hard to understand the designer has been permitted to replace with a "water feature" the Rose Garden that leads up to the entrance .  This was planted by the Gold Star Mothers on Armistice Day in 1951- in memory of local men killed in the 2nd World War.  One redeeming fact is that the roses are going to be given away (following in the steps of Treesavers' "Tree-for-all") this Saturday.

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