L.A. board OKs removal of 265 trees to make way for Endeavour
The Los Angeles Board of Public Works approved a permit Monday that will allow the California Science Center to chop down up to 265 trees as it transports the space shuttle Endeavour through Los Angeles.
At the morning meeting, the California Science Center outlined its plan to move the shuttle from Los Angeles International Airport to its permanent home in Exposition Park. The plan calls for the temporary displacement of traffic lights, signs and light posts. But the most contentious part of the proposal was the removal of 119 trees in South L.A. and 124 trees in Westchester. Including trees in Inglewood and some on LAX property, a total of 393 trees will be removed along the route.
Residents packed the Board of Public Works meeting at City Hall to voice their concerns.
During the emotionally-charged meeting, which lasted for almost three hours, more than a dozen community members testified about the environmental impact and aesthetic ramifications that the tree removal would have on their neighborhoods. A few expressed support for the plan.
The California Science Center agreed to plant twice as many trees as it removed. But just minutes before the start of the board meeting, several South L.A. neighborhood groups were able to broker a closed-door deal that required the center to plant four times as many trees in those communities. The deal also called for a comprehensive community plan that includes sidewalk repair, scholarships and a long-term beautification plan.
Only South L.A. will be affected by the new agreement.
"While we sincerely regret the loss of many majestic trees which have aided this community for decades, what we accomplished though this agreement is a greener South L.A. for the health of our community, as well as educational opportunities at the Science Center for generations to come," said a statement released through the groups' attorney, Gideon Kracow.
Tree removal in Los Angeles could begin as early as next week, in anticipation of a two-day parade from LAX to the Science Center that will begin Oct. 12.ALSO:
-- Angel Jennings
Photo: A landscaping crew works to take down a tree along Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood in anticipation of the space shuttle Endeavour's journey through town. Tree removal in Los Angeles could begin as early as next week. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times