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A lack of trees in the neighborhood between Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Beverly Hills border has prompted a local residents association to launch a study on how to bring more greenery to the area.
The Beverly West Residents Association (BWRA) began the study last week and has hired the landscape architecture firm, Prairieform, to conduct the research. The BWRA represents people living in the area between Beverly Boulevard on the north, Burton Way on the South, Robertson Boulevard to the east and Doheny Drive to the west. Cary Brazeman, the founder of the BWRA, said the study is designed to identify places where new trees can be planted, as well as identify trees that are diseased or are causing other problems such as erosion or sidewalk displacement. Brazeman said there is a lack of street trees in some parts of the area, mainly on the strip of city-owned property located between the sidewalk and the curb in front of residences. The study, which Brazeman said will cost a “few thousands dollars”, is being paid for by the residents association. The results will be provided to the city, and Brazeman said he hopes to work with City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, to implement the recommendations.
“There are places in this neighborhood where the streetscape could be more attractive,” said Brazeman, who is also a board member of the Mid-City West Community Council. “What an infill tree program will do, particularly on Alden and 3rd Street, is enhance the visual cohesiveness of the neighborhood. There are some blocks that have no trees on the parkways, and we would like to fill in those areas. It will go a long way in improving the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”
Brazeman said the organization does not have preconceptions about what types of trees that should be planted, and added that the study is only the first step in identifying what can be done to bring more greenery to the area. Once the study is complete, Brazeman will present the results to the other 65 members of the residents association to decide how to proceed.
“It’s going to be a three to six-month process to develop the plan, and it’s being funded by private donations from the members,” Brazeman added. “We will be paying special attention to Alden running between Cedars and Doheny, and along 3rd Street, which has very few trees. On 3rd Street, there are a lot of areas where there are no trees, and there are also some pine trees that look like they were just hacked off at the top.”
Brazeman said he initiated the privately funded study because he did not want go through a long process that would be required for the City of Los Angeles to conduct a similar study. He said he understands that the city is facing dire financial problems, and added that his initiative could be a model for other public and private partnerships.
“Beverly Hills and the City of West Hollywood do a nice job of tending to their trees, but you can really see the difference when you cross into Los Angeles,” Brazeman added. “The City of Los Angeles is effectively out of the tree business, and us neighbors are left to our own devices to address tree issues.”
Rich Llewellyn, chief of staff for Koretz, said no money is budgeted for tree trimming and other services in the current budget that runs though the end of June. He disputed the assertion that the city is “out of the tree business”, and said Koretz’s office is willing to work with the residents association once the study is completed.
“We are delighted that they are doing this. Any private group that wants to work with the city to improve their neighborhood is welcome,” Llewellyn said. “The city still does oversee street trees, however, there is a longer maintenance cycle. We have deferred any street tree maintenance this year, other than public safety measures.”
Brazeman added that he has directed the landscape architect to study trees on both the main thoroughfares and smaller residential streets such as Wetherly, Almont, La Peer, Swall and Clark Drives.
“Maybe they will recommend a variety of different types, or maybe they will recommend a continuation of trees that exist in a particular area. Clark has some magnolia trees and perhaps we could continue that. Those are the types of things we are looking at,” Brazeman added. “We will figure out what it costs once the study is completed.”
Brazeman added that he is also interested in consulting with the City of West Hollywood, because Beverly Boulevard, the northern boundary of the residents association, is located within that city. On Monday, the West Hollywood City Council approved plans for a study that will examine ways to improve Beverly Boulevard, according to Fran Solomon, a deputy to West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman. Solomon said the city’s study will primarily examine streetscape improvements to public safety, including more pedestrian crosswalks and lighting. Any suggestions about landscaping from the residents association could also be included. The West Hollywood study is only in its initial phase, and the timeline has not yet been established.
“We’ve done so many street improvement projects on other major boulevards, now it’s time to look at Beverly,” Solomon added.
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