The Expo Light Rail must cross the road to get to the other side once it enters Santa Monica. In order for this crossing of the road to take place, about $350,000 from City Hall’s coffers will have to be spent on relocating 52 trees to a new location. The expenditure and action were both approved by council members at its Feb. 28 meeting at City Hall.
California-based Valley Crest Tree Co. will oversee the tree move and is expected to take place this month, City Hall stated.
The trees in question are located along a stretch of Metro right-of-way “adjacent to Olympic Boulevard between Stewart Street and Cloverfield Boulevard.” At this approximate location, the Expo Line is routed to diagonally bisect Olympic Boulevard as it heads toward the Colorado Esplanade to the west and Downtown Los Angeles to the east.
In all, 66 trees along “this portion of the right-of-way (were designated) for potential removal to allow for the light rail line construction.” However, City Hall proposed to relocate only 52 of those trees to city-owned property.
“Following an assessment by the Community Forester and an independent arborist hired by the Authority, 52 of these trees have been identified as candidates for relocation based upon their overall health, structural characteristics, appraised values, and ability to thrive once relocated,” a staff report stated.
“The other 14 trees did not meet one or more of these criteria due to poor viability, inability to tolerate relocation, or high relocation costs associated with work that would be needed on infrastructure such as utilities, buildings, or hardscape around the current tree sites,” it continued.
The trees to be relocated include seven date palms from the intersection of Cloverfield and Olympic Boulevards and eight date palms from the intersection of 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard. These trees “are proposed to be relocated to fill street tree vacancies on street segments where the date palm is the designated street tree pursuant to the Urban Forest Master Plan,” City Hall stated in a staff report.
In addition, two melaleucas and four queen palms at 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard were “proposed to be relocated to vacant sites within the same greenbelt” along 26th Street between Cloverfield and Olympic.
Finally, 31 ficus trees lining the south side of Olympic Boulevard between Stewart Street and Olympic Boulevard may be relocated to a temporary storage area “where they will be maintained until such time as sites can be identified for them.”
The staff report stated that the 31 ficus trees may be included as part of “the planned buffer zone adjacent to the future Expo Maintenance Facility and possibly other park sites.”
Also according to City Hall, the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, which is overseeing both phases of the Expo Line’s development from the University of Southern California to the Pacific Ocean, is “supportive of the City’s proposal to salvage these 52 trees and will work with the City to complete the potential relocations in March 2012.”
Valley Crest Tree Co. was one of two tree relocation and storage services to submit a bid on Jan. 12 to City Hall; the $295,200 bid was selected over a $674,636 bid submitted by Hess Landscape Construction, Inc.
The successful bid was originally for the relocation of 39 trees but upgraded to $350,000 when it as determined another 13 trees would be “impacted by light rail line construction.”