Many San Fernando residents and elected officials were unhappy Monday after decades-old palm trees were cut down along a main entry point into the small city.
Amid an effort to install drought-tolerant plants on medians along Brand Boulevard, the trees were chopped due to a “miscommunication,” according to the city.
A statement issued by City Manager Brian Saeki on Monday said six queen palm trees were removed.
The incident came after the city reviewed many versions of a drought-tolerant median enhancement project in an effort to reduce costs, Saeki said.
“Unfortunately, removing the palm trees was left in there, and it shouldn’t have been. It was a mistake by the landscape architect and city staff,” Saeki told KTLA. “We feel terrible about it.”
Some locals, however, have cried foul, saying the butchered palms have marred a key entryway to the city of about 25,000 residents in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
“These trees are over 50 years old, and it’s a historical part of our city. How could a mistake like this happen?” resident Mary Mendoza said. “Someone within the city government has to be held accountable for the destruction.”
Councilman Jaime Soto said the incident was "not a mistake" and he called for the funds to replace the trees to come out of the pocket of the city manager.
But Mayor Joel Fajardo insisted the situation was the result of an “error” and was not part of any larger "plot," which he said some residents have suggested.
All remaining palms on the median will be kept there, and 10 new coast live oaks and eight olive trees will be planted, Saeki said.
The new trees will provide increased shade, he said.
The city this year met the requirements to be designated a Tree City USA, according to Saeki’s statement.
A meeting on the trees was set for 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, Fajardo said.