Mar Vista NC

Mar Vista Community Council

How to Save A Tree

Posted on 11/27/19

Event Date 11/27/19

Dear NCSA representatives and allies,
We are sending this email to make sure you are aware of a relatively new procedure that began at the beginning of 2019, which we anticipate is of interest to you.  
When the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) publishes a request to remove a public tree or a protected tree in a particular Los Angeles neighborhood council area, all the neighborhood council board members should receive the UFD public notice by email from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE). 
We want to be sure these tree removal requests find their way to you as a representative to the NCSA. If you are not a board member, please ask a board member to forward them to you as soon as they are received. There should not be that many.  
Trees take many years to mature, and we want to be judicious about sacrificing members of this vital infrastructure that cleans our air and reduces heat. We all should want to think twice about cutting down a tree. You can usually see the tree that is being proposed to be removed by searching the address on Google Maps, or (usually) you can see a photo posted on the NCSA website:
If a tree in your community looks to you like it should not be cut down, you as an individual can activate a second chance for it. You need not wait to have approval of your neighborhood council to initiate an objection, and your action will put a temporary hold on the tree removal. Within three business days, or a soon as you can, notify your City Council office field representative, who also receives these notifications, and elicit that person’s support. Also, be sure to copy your objection to UFD ( will usually take another look at alternatives, if they are feasible.  
We also recommend that you go look at the tree in question and try to assess its health Take pictures. If the sidewalk is lifted, there are alternatives that may not have been considered such as meandering the sidewalk around the tree. You may want to contact the requester to suggest finding an alternative. Many sidewalk-repair rebate requesters do not know that StreetsLA (otherwise known as the Bureau of Street Services) can help expedite a different approach than tree removal. However, this likely will not happen without resident input.  
It actually costs more to remove a tree than to find an alternative solution such as a meandering sidewalk—the City of LA’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), who works to draft the city budget and analyzes the cost effectiveness of city policies and programs, recently determined that for sidewalk repair, alternatives to tree removal are less expensive. So why take out a tree unnecessarily?  It may not be the smartest approach.
Many property owners do not realize that “replacement trees” only survive when there is a commitment to adequate watering, which the requester is expected to do. We have seen removal requests withdrawn and the tree retained once the requester realizes the effort expected after a new tree is planted. 
As you may know, I receive the proposed tree removal notices, and as chair of the Trees Committee for the NCSA, I post them on the NCSA website—with a photo if I can get one on Google Maps. 
Please note this recent change in our posting system: the NCSA website postings are no longer organized by neighborhood council, though older listings remain archived by neighborhood council. All new listing links are currently posted together with the most recent at the top. This will make it easier for everyone to see just how many trees citywide are being requested to be removed. We do list the city council district to help narrow the area. Here is an example of one of the listings on our site for Council District 4—the listing has two links:
Received 2019 09-04  CD 4  817 S. Longwood Ave  large tree for sidewalk repair
The first link takes you first to UFD’s removal request, and the second link to a Google photo. Note that the photo may or may not be recent.
We show the “date received” on the posting because this is when the notification became public. Try to make your objection within three days, but UFD tells us that you may go ahead and object even after three days, since it usually takes them some time to approve the request.
The NCSA Trees Committee can provide advice and support. We have had some successful challenges initiated by us, by neighborhood council board members, and by NCSA representatives. UFD and the Board of Public Works pay more attention if the objection emanates from local community members. So please get involved when you get a notification of a tree removal request that looks like it ought to be challenged. We encourage you to be proactive to protect healthy trees in your community! 
Thank you so much for you participation–
Joanne D'Antonio
Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance, Trees Committee Chair
Sustainability Representative, Board Member, Greater Valley Glen Council
Community Forest Advisory Committee Representative for Council District 2
NCSA Representative, Urban Forestry Management Plan Working Group (Dudek Report)

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P.O. Box 66871
Mar Vista, CA 90066
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