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Treesavers supporters have gone to court in Santa Monica, Calif. to keep the city from removing 54 mature ficus trees as part of a downtown streetscape project.

A streetscape project in Santa Monica, Calif. proposes to remove 54 mature ficus trees, but the Treesavers group ( isn’t having any of it. Both sides have lawyers. Treesavers went to court and received a temporary restraining order against removing the trees unless they present a public danger. The city then brought in a consulting arborist to examine the trees.

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Shade is Advantage

Treesavers wants those trees 23 trees, now deemed dangerous by the city, to be individually evaluated. The Treesavers web site argues:

“The city wants them replaced with small ginkgos that, though beautiful, actually cast very little shade (most of it after 20 years’ growth). Why? The city claims some of them are too damaged or decayed to be saved. But the majority of these trees are being removed to make those streets more attractive to the shopping public. This weird logic flies in the face of research, surveys and studies showing that dense, large-canopy trees attract shoppers. They make the place nicer, better and healthier for everyone. Many Santa Monica residents and visitors want to preserve these magnificent stands of large, shade-giving trees in the heart of our town.”

Compromise Rejected

Treescape proposed ending its litigation and having the city go forward with the streetscape project—install the 139 ginkgos, add uplighting to the remaining 111 ficus trees, repair the sidewalks, etc.—but leave the existing trees in place. The city council rejected that proposal on March 12, however.

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June 18, 2019, 6:45 pm PDT

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