Santa Monica Cuts Down Fought-Over Trees

"I don't know if I'm more sad or more angry," Treesavers founder Jerry Rubin said this morning as he witnessed Santa Monica workers cut down 23 ficus trees on 2nd and 4th Street. He stood on a stump where one of the trees used to stand for over 40 years — it only took a matter of minutes to cut it down. "We'll be back again, and we won't get caught with our pants down this time. It's sad, I feel guilty. I feel that maybe there were things we could have done more to save these trees."

In September of last year, a grassroots community group called Treesavers formed after the city of Santa Monica voted to go ahead with a plan called the Second and Fourth Street Pedestrian and Streetscape Improvements, which includes "increasing sidewalk lighting, extending curbs at crosswalks and replacing the 54 trees with 139 deciduous ginkgo biloba trees in the eight-block area between Colorado Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard," according to the LA Weekly. But that plan also called for taking out over 150 trees, which, thanks to Treesavers and 10,000 community signatures on a petition, has been cut down to the removal of 30 trees (the most dangerous ones says the city), seven of which the city says they will relocate and remove later.

Tonight at 5:00 p.m. at the front of of Santa Monica's city hall, Treesavers will be holding a vigil with a community meeting at 6:00 p.m. "We will be pushing for a long overdue tree commission, that's something now we have to have — this policy and this process is just unacceptable," Rubin detailed. "We can't mourn, we have to organize and work for the future."

Special thanks to Adam Rose for the photos and on-site interview.