On March 7, Treesavers attorney Tom Nitti obtained a new court order that would delay destruction and removal of any of the ficus trees on 2nd and 4th Streets.
The order, issued by the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, is in response to a petition for writ of mandate filed by Treesavers on March 6. Nitti again charged that the City of Santa Monica did not act according to correct procedure in regard to CEQA regulations when it gave the order to begin work on the trees, and the Court agreed with his assertion. The court order restores the temporary restraining order of October 5, 2007, to forbid work on the trees, and orders the City to file a preliminary response on or before March 21, 2008.
Treesavers spokesperson Jerry Rubin was happy with the court order, but added that Treesavers will continue to pursue every legal avenue to save the trees.
City Manager Lamont Ewell issued this statement:
“We are following this Court order and we expect to prevail. The facts have not changed and delay is costing the taxpayers. Twenty-three structurally unstable trees must come down; 100 ficus trees will remain in the area. Up to 31 trees will be relocated, some in the project area and others to parks. We’ll replace any tree removed two for one with ginkgos. This means that over 200 trees will be in the eight-block project area. Two independent arborists and our Community Forester have agreed this meets with best practices of urban forestry.”