SANTA MONICA—A 97-year-old sycamore tree located on 1122 California Avenue, could possibly be chopped down. The massive sycamore tree has been part of the Santa Monica community since 1922. Many locals have protested about the preservation of the century old sycamore tree including the grassroots organization Save Our Sycamores.
The 97-year-old tree was designated as a historic landmark, which Save our Sycamore was behind. The Landmark Commission voted in favor of updating the status of the sycamore tree to become an official landmark, but the property owners appealed the vote. The Santa Monica City Council, during its May 14 meeting voted 4-2 to upheld the property owners’ appeal because the sycamore tree did not meet the criteria for landmark designation.
The city of Santa Monica Public Information Officer, Constance Farrell shared with NBC Los Angeles that as part of the agreement, the owners of the property entered a deed to protect the sycamore tree until the city of Santa Monica creates an ordinance to protect trees on private property without having to designate them as landmarks.
Initially the owners of the property wanted the option to cut down the 97-year-old tree in order to build on the land. A settlement was reached on May 14, after a city council meeting. Many supporters and members of Save Our Sycamore were present during the city council meeting. The property owners agreed to enter a deed restriction for the tree parcel on their property to protect the tree from any kind of removal for the next two years.
The property owner’s lawyer had a tree expert argue that the 97-year-old tree is unworthy of a landmark status. In a Santa Monica staff report, the city arborist stated that the century old sycamore is “thus the largest and oldest native tree for at least two blocks in any direction and makes up a significant portion of the dwindling native tree canopy in the area,” The report noted that the sycamore has exceptional health, and that it is an “outstanding specimen” with a canopy that is “remarkable and uncommon.”
The city of Santa Monica has several tree related regulations that protect trees from damage. In ordinance 7.40.160 it states:
“During the erection, repair, alteration or removal of any building, house, or structure in the City, any person in charge of such work shall protect any tree, shrub or plant in any street, sidewalk, parkway, alley or other public property within the City in the vicinity of such building or structure with sufficient guards or protectors as to prevent injury to said tree, shrub or plant arising out of or by reason of said erection, repair, alteration or removal.”
Santa Monica’s tree protection laws are only available to trees located on public property.