The legal battle pits activists, who are fighting to prevent the city from removing some 36 remaining Ficus trees on Robertson Boulevard, against the city, which is seeking to fell the trees in the name of sidewalk repairs.
In July, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant issued a preliminary injunction preventing the city from removing any more Ficus trees while the case is pending. The city had already removed some 50 trees before the suit was filed on March 29.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Jamie T. Hall told the Courier that his clients were encouraged by the injunction.
The city, however, was less pleased.
“The city strongly disagrees with the preliminary injunction issued in July to stop removal of the trees,” City Attorney Laurence Wiener told the Courier on Sept. 28.
The extension of the trial setting date allows the two parties more time to reach a potential settlement. Ideally, the plaintiffs would like to see the city agree to preserve the Ficus trees and pursue alternative sidewalk repair methods such as root pruning, Hall has told the Courier.
Wiener, however, did not express great optimism in reaching an agreement in the next two months, noting that “to date negotiations have not been successful.”
The city seeks to move forward with its initial plan to remove the trees, perform the necessary sidewalk repairs and replant crape myrtles and Mexican fan palms. The city prefers these trees to Ficuses as their roots are less likely to cause future sidewalk damage.
The plaintiffs argue that these alternative trees do not provide equivalent environmental benefits as the mature shady Ficus trees, which are around 60 years old.
Weiner told the Courier that it is important to note that in early August, the city proactively decided to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) because the city believes the EIR is the most expedient method to bring the matter to a conclusion.