File photo


Driving past the Main Street dog park last week I noticed that it looked extremely naked. It hit me that several trees had been removed and replaced with new immature pine trees. I was disappointed in the loss of the mature trees that had been there. I don’t know why they were replaced, could be they became ill due to the drought, or other disease. Maybe the city arborist decided they were in danger of falling and it would be safer to remove them. Perhaps the Parks and Recreation Commission wanted to make our parks more “sunny” and have less of a canopy. Maybe none of that is right and there is another explanation.

I do know that I regularly have concerns about the tree inventory in our city. As a municipality, we have a vested interest in making sure that our city has a vibrant and verdant look and feel. The sidewalks of most streets have some degree of landscaping for a reason. Not only does the micro-climate of our city benefit, but the land values and the quality of our life is enhanced with an increase in greenery.

This valued aspect to our city is also why I am also curious as to the loss of the trees in the dog park. I believe that they were moved from another location in the city because they were so mature and the decision was made to relocate them rather than just chip them. I recall we did a similar thing in Virginia Avenue park with a few trees.

The canopy of trees in our city is frankly a bit lacking in my opinion. It seems to me that we could easily support more trees and when the arborist decides to plant additional specimens they should be more mature. I’ve noticed that oftentimes thin saplings are used, which I understand from a budgetary perspective, but as someone who has purchased and planted trees, when I used more mature trees they took faster and grew out more completely.

The reason why I push for the use of older more mature trees is not just the aesthetic, but the budgetary concerns. If you drive along Colorado Blvd, on the South side of the street you will notice that there are many “new” trees that have been planted. You will also notice that many of them are deader than the pylons on the Pier. Now in any gardening venture, there is a certain loss due to weather, shock from planting or inability to adjust to the new surroundings. I get that, but there seems to be an inordinate amount of loss in the trees along the Colorado corridor.

I’ve also noticed the same thing across our city in other areas, where we have long dead trees that need to be replaced and I frankly wonder if we would have been better served had the city spent the extra few dollars and planted older examples.

Santa Monica has an Urban Forest Task Force chaired by Grace Phillips under our Public Works department. I haven’t had a chance to reach out to her, but I’m heartened to know that we in place people who are concerned with these issues.  It would benefit all of us I believe if we had more trees and landscaping across the city. As much as we have now is wonderful, I’d really like as Spring approaches to see our city become as lush and verdant as an amusement park.

The environment we live in is so conducive to gardening, and even with the restrictions that the drought placed on us, we can do better. Artistic landscaping helps our land values, is good for the planet, and makes for a much nicer society overall. Santa Monica should have more areas like the rose garden in Palisades Park, the great trees of Virginia Avenue Park and the green ball fields of Memorial Park.


David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.comor 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra