our Ficus trees

this...

is like…

 

...this

So, um…some group or committee or person or persons decided to plant a bunch of Ficus trees along many of Los Angeles’ sidewalks in the 50’s. I guess this was the “fashionable” tree to plant at that time. This choice was not a good one. These trees have become monsters, with invasive roots destroying sidewalks from the beach to the mountains. The City of Los Angeles has had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle lawsuits brought on by people who have tripped and hurt themselves falling over raised roots and upended concrete.

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(Excerpted from an Bloomberg article titled, “Los Angeles Pays Damages as Ficus Jungle Breaks Up Sidewalks” July 1st, 2008 by Nadja Brandt)

Developers lined neighborhood walkways with trees as they built houses to accommodate the burgeoning population of Los Angeles and its suburbs in the 1950s and ’60s. They favored the Ficus microcarpa, whose broccoli-shaped crown can grow to more than 40 feet (12 meters) in diameter. Ficus roots can stretch as far as 90 feet from the trunk, Severynen said.

“They have been way overplanted, and planted where there was no room for them,” he said. “They can be a nightmare.”

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Every community is dealing with these large Ficus’ in their own way, depending on how rabid the local tree-huggers are and what sort of vision the local stakeholders have for their city streets. Some communities decide to save their Ficus’, some decide to cut them down.

"Grrrr, I never asked to be painted red" (Ficus on 6th St.)

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(Excerpted from an LA WEEKLY article titled, “F**king the Ficus in Santa Monica” January 10th, 2008 by Max Taves)

Between 2000 and 2001, over the protests of its tree savers, the city cut 100 of its ficus trees along Santa Monica Boulevard – on the recommendation of a street-redesign committee.”The trees were probably the hottest topic on our committee,” says former West Hollywood mayor Steve Martin. “The Chamber of Commerce wanted all the trees to be palm trees” – which offer virtually no shade but handily allow commercial signs in the space where shade trees once stood. “We had to convince them that shade was good. I really fought hard to defend [the ficus] trees, but we were paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in trip-and-fall cases. There was only one logical conclusion.”Santa Monica Boulevard instead got wan-looking Chinese elms interspersed with thin jacarandas, destroying the boulevard’s deep shade – and its lush look – for a more common suburban feel. “The ficus had their day,” Martin says. “They’re really a symbol of a different era.”

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Skid Row has some of these enormous Ficus’ too. There are several on San Pedro Street. They are beasts. The concrete sidewalks are slowly succumbing to their powerful root systems. How will we deal with this issue going forward?

I propose NOT cutting them down, but cutting a wider swath so that they can be more comfortable. Something like this could be helpful…

wide concrete cut gives this tree's roots more room to spread out

At the risk of sounding contrived, these San Pedro St.  Ficus’ are majestic. I hope there is a way to design a clever streetscape around their bulging roots.

I saw this in Culver City, flowers planted between the giant roots

 It just takes a little imagination. Thoughts anyone?

ideas...

 
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One Response to our Ficus trees

  1. Pingback: Trees on San Pedro Street, trimmed! Thanks CCEA! | Trees on San Pedro Street Project

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