The city of Beverly Hills plans to cut down nearly 100 trees to prevent further damage to sidewalks and buildings, despite concerns from some businesses who say they were never included in the city’s decision-making process.
As crews have been working to clear the sidewalks along Robertson Boulevard, at least one resident says watching the towering, mature Ficus trees come down is emotional.
“It’s very sad to be watching the trees go down,” Shahine Safae, who works on the street, told KTLA. “These trees have been over here … for probably 50, 60 years and to take these trees down, I think it’s just extremely sad.”
An official with the city said the plan to replace 87 trees along Robertson Boulevard is necessary because roots are damaging sidewalks, resulting in more trip-and-fall incidents that store owners have been complaining about for years.
“This is really a last resort, but it’s come to a point now where the trees are causing an unsafe situation along Robertson and they need to be placed,” Keith Sterling, Beverly Hills Deputy City Manager, told KTLA.
Sterling said the city was careful to do outreach and notify residents along the Robertson Boulevard corridor.
Wendy Klenk, who opposes the tree replacement project, says when she saw the first tree come down, she was shocked, as were others.
“I feel like for all the businesses here, they moved on this street, you know we all did, because we loved the trees,” she said. “They give the canopy for shade. It’s always been here, so you never thought that it could ever go away.”
Klenk has organized a petition and a protest, demanding answers from the city, including any environmental reports.
“I think the thing at the end of the day is that nobody felt like they were included in the process. That’s number one, and number two, these are beautiful, healthy trees that, you know, there was no alternative options put forth,” she added.
Debra Carter, showroom manager at Carter Hardware, said she was relieved when the trees started coming down.
“The Ficus are beautiful trees, but they’re problematic,” Carter told KTLA. “They are very problematic.”
Carter said that her family’s hardware store had major problems as a result of the Ficus outside.
“We’ve had floods in the showroom at least four times now,” she said. “When the plumbers came out, they saw in the gigantic pipes in the back all the tree roots. It cost us about $15,000 to clear the lines.”
The city says the $226,000 project will mean the sidewalks get fixed and new trees that cause fewer problems will be planted where the Ficus once stood.
“Our trees are what make Beverly Hills so special,” Sterling said. “So, anytime we do a replacement project, we’re very thoughtful and mindful of that and careful.”
Meanwhile, Klenk says a lawyer that works on Robertson is looking to see if they can file some sort of injunction to stop the replacement project. City leaders, though, say the project is well under way and is set to wrap up toward the end of this year or early next year.