The October 26 scheduled hearing on the fate of the ficus trees at 2nd and 4th Streets was taken off calendar on October 24, due to the pending process of obtaining landmark designation for the trees.
The trees had been protected for three weeks under a temporary restraining order issued in Los Angeles Superior Court on October 5. The order was to run out on the 26th, at which time a hearing had been scheduled for the Treesavers to ask for a preliminary injunction to protect the trees from what they claimed was imminent danger of removal.
“The Treesavers took the motion requesting the court to issue a preliminary injunction off the calendar,” said Thomas Nitti, attorney for Treesavers. He explained that the request had been removed “because a motion for a preliminary injunction requires the showing of an emergency. And at the present time we don’t have an emergency. The reason we don’t have an emergency is because the Landmark application that was recently filed protects the trees and prevents the City from cutting or removing the trees. And so we could not make a showing in front of the court of the idea that the trees were in immediate danger because under City law they’re not in immediate danger of being cut.”
The issue of the trees may come before the Landmarks Commission in December or as early as the November 12 meeting. The process usually involves the preparation of a report from City staff, public input, and action by the Commission in the form of a nomination, and then, after more information and deliberation, a decision on whether or not to designate.
If the result is not satisfactory to the activists, they may appeal the issue to the City Council. The Council may also take the option of appealing the Landmarks Commission’s designation.
“That process could take a number of months, during which the trees are protected,” says Nitti. “If the process doesn’t go well, or if the City doesn’t cooperate in good faith, the Treesavers reserve the right to go back into court and ask for the preliminary injunction to be issued if we have an emergency in the future.”