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Subject: Arroyo Seco Tree Removal Proposal for Rec and Parks Commission Agenda on Sept. 1, 2020

Dear Commissioners:
I thank you for your consideration and Public Works for raising important issues for the Lower Arroyo.

Suspend consideration of the proposal for removal of 117 trees until it is possible to obtain details about: the trees to be removed, factors relating to the presumed change in City policy from support for plantings of native trees to approval of massive removal of non native trees in the Lower Arroyo: informed responses by neighbors, users of the park and persons interested in City parks and the Urban Forest after reasonable notice and an opportunity to visit the trees and have time to consider their elimination; and responses from the Urban Forest Advisory Committee to the request for its approval. This would require a further consideration of the proposal at next month’s meeting.

In June of 2019 the City Council approved CIP project 77410 for $650,000 for unspecified landscaping in the Lower Arroyo, with no mention of the elimination of over 100 non native trees. Established City policy has authorized the planting of natives, but not any massive removal of non native trees. The non native trees and been planted and cared for as appropriate in the natural park for decades, apparently in at least since the construction of the concrete flood control channel in 1948 and installation of the Archery Range below California Street.
On July 20, 2020, Public Works sent a brief description of its plan to remove the 117 trees to the Arroyo Seco Foundation, the Casting Club, the Archery Club, and the La Casita Foundation. This provided the first disclosure of the tree removal plan, identified on a one page diagram with little colored bubbles to locate the targeted trees. Since then, sketchy information and complaints began to circulate among the randomly informed interested persons. No notice of was posted or published for walkers, runners, equestrians, birders, neighbors, or persons interested in parks or the Urban Forest. Many questions have been posed but not yet answered. Now a UFAC meeting is set for next week and two separate Zoom meetings have been considered by Councilman Steve Madison and Principal Engineer Hayden Melbourn.
The parallel proposal for new native planting, including 42 new trees, appears to be functionally separate from the destruction of the non native trees and could apparently start right away. It could be approved separately.
Since the Lower Arroyo was an abandoned City dump and the installation of the County sewer line and the concrete channel, the Lower Arroyo canopies have been planted and evolved consistent with Southern California aesthetics utilizing appropriate trees from around the world. The City has let them grow and cared for them to provide shade, beauty, and support for a familiar natural environment. Normal review of massive projects throughout Pasadena has included review of all individual trees to be removed after posting and reasonable notice to residents. Only in this way has it been considered possible to evaluate the adverse effects of removal as against the alleged benefits.

Work for the new plantings should be approved and go forward.
The hearing next week before the Urban Forest Advisory Committee, presumed “to obtain approval,” should proceed, along with the two upcoming Zoom presentations.
Adequate notice by posting and publication should be provided to all park users and residents. Everyone interested, including members of this Commission, should be offered a tour of the 117 trees to be killed as was provided to the Casting Club and the La Casita Foundation. (I have walked the mapped area and found it difficult at best to find the subject trees or form any opinion about the effects of destruction or how removal might affect new landscaping.)
Responses and questions should be reviewed by staff and this Commission to form a basis to support, modify, or reject the tree removal plan, if possible within the next 30 days.

As I read this over I fear it sounds unduly arrogant and demanding. That is not intended. It is to identify possible questions for appropriate consideration. I have lived most of my 75 years near the Arroyo and cared about it and participated in City programs for its support. I can’t help but feel that this experience calls for expression on this important issue.

John Fauvre
August 28, 2020

August, 2020

arroyo trees
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Lower Arroyo/Van De Kamp Bridge Habitat Restoration

This nearly slipped by us, because the City notified only the Casting Club and the Roving Archers as “stakeholders” when most of them don’t even live in Pasadena.

We found out 1 week before the deadline for comments, and we got the West Pasadena Residents Association to write a letter criticizing the project. Tom Seifert and I talked with the City staff yesterday and they seemed set to go forward. They have $257,000 allocated from Residential Impact Fees (City funds) and $541,803 promised from Prop A (state funds for park improvements) which must be spent by March, so they are anxious to get everything approved.
The idea behind all this is to remove all non-natives from a portion for the Lower Arroyo and replace them with 17 sycamores in 15 gall containers, and 2,000 miscellaneous native plants in 1 gall containers. This project will require installation of extensive irrigation systems. Many of the non-natives are mature trees that provide shade and bird habitat, etc. This was all prompted by the project that rebuilt the La Loma Bridge and removed some habitat around the bridge where construction took place and trailers etc. were parked. So this is a mitigation measure that extends far beyond the project work-site.

The City has a grant, which means they have to spend it instead of really dealing with the underlying problem: no unified action in the Lower Arroyo, just piecemeal projects here and there.

Ann Scheid

To view the entire Department of Public Works plan >>

save pasadena trees


The Wed. meeting went pretty well, the City heard plenty of pro-Ficus and some arguments against keeping the Ficus as the designated tree species for Green St.
The next step for them will be to gather the results of the public survey which is open until August 1, 2018.
If you haven’t already, please take a moment to fill out this brief survey at the link below. Kudos to those who already did!
Also, please reach into your contacts list to spread the word about the survey to your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, associates, etc. who live, work or go to school in Pasadena. Some may be out of town on vacation, others in town but unaware of this important issue.


save pasadena trees
Photo by L. Paul, October 2016
save pasadena trees
November 11, 2016
November, 2016
save pasadena trees
School girls from Poly hug the doomed tree that was 3 feet in diameter. Note that there were no roots lifting the sidewalk or presenting a “trip hazard” as claimed by the building’s owner. In fact, the building’s owner appears to have blamed the trees for poor maintenance of his building that had nothing to do with the trees (there is photo documentation of this). His original complaint to the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee (UFAC) was that the trees were “oversized” and dropped too much leaf debris. The “ponding” on the the building’s roof was not caused by leaves, but apparently originated with a broken drain pipe system.
497 s lake
At ~2:00am the trees were destroyed. Protestors were present to bear witness. This was reminiscent of the extensive tree slaughter on Colorado Blvd. that occurred back in 2009, also late at night. Branches, some as thick in diameter as the trunks of many other trees in the area, hit the ground like thunder. Birds that roosted every night in those trees fled in panic; hopefully, none were injured.

Save Pasadena Trees from savepasadenatrees on Vimeo.
Thanks to Miriam Nakamura for the video taken at 1:53AM.

Dear All,

At a time when JPL research indicates that literally millions of trees are dying during the current prolonged drought:
And when so many urban and parkland trees are dying in our region from the spread of deadly polyphagous shot-hole borer (PSHB), foamy canker, bark beetles and other invading infestations…

Pasadena officials decided to capitulate to the Beverly Hills owner of the poorly maintained building at 497 S. Lake Avenue by cutting down 3 healthy, 80 year old trees that were thriving in spite of the drought and rampant infestations. Tragically, those 3 massive trees destroyed between 1:45 and 2:30am last night. All the beauty and benefits of those valuable trees is now gone forever.

Shame on the building owner, Mr. Meyer. Those trees predated his purchase of the building by decades and he certainly should’ve been aware of needed maintenance associated with the presence of such large trees. Shame on Pasadena, especially upon the Mayor, City Council, City Manager and the City attorney, for failing to competently defend those trees and for failing to respond to the public outcry to save the trees and impose reasonable alternatives instead of cutting them down prematurely.

It appears that killing those magnificent trees ahead of schedule was the City’s final solution to the growing public support for the trees and recent legal action on the trees' behalf. A legal challenge to the decision for removal was filed on Saturday based on Pasadena's failure to follow its own tree ordinance process and involving CEQA violations. I was told that a copy of the 19 page legal challenge was attached to the trees, but did no good as the chainsaws hacked the trees down. See photos and a video attached.

Pasadena Now covered this tragic incident:

Coverage was also seen on ABC News 7 this morning.

I believe there needs to be accountability and political consequences for this egregious act. For those who wish to do so, please send an immediate letter of condemnation to responsible officials. Find e-mail contact info. attached below. An expression of outrage over the expedited destruction of the 3 trees at 497 S. Lake Ave may save future trees. The building owner’s persistent complaints and litigation against the trees, which cost Pasadena money to defend against, set a terrible precedent for other public trees that anyone finds annoying for any reason. Threaten Pasadena, cost the City money, and trees will come down. The loss of healthy trees in our urban environment must stop.

It is a very tragic day.

November 06, 2016

Contact Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, City Council Members and businesses at 497 S. Lake Ave. >>

How trees have rights in London. Trucks, busses and other vehicles are warned about low trees and leaning trunks. (Notice all the deep wounds from trucks in the branches of the trees on Green Street.)

(Photos by Ann F. Scheid)


For more info contact:

Lori Paul

Branislav Kecman

497 lake ave Pasadena
(Photo by Ann Thomas, October 30, 2016)

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