VSA Shaping the Future of Venice Trees

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Fallen Tree Venice Amber Feld
A fallen tree branch blocks a street in Venice Picture Courtesy: Amber Feld Twitter

Gales force winds have toppled trees across Los Angeles over the past couple of days and now there is a calm after the storm the Venice Stakeholders Association have got to work trimming 21 Italian Stone Pines around the Venice Post Office.

Yesterday a professional crew, from Campos Greenview Tree Service began thinning and trimming the trees that had been at risk of failure, blown by strong El Niño driven storms.

VSA Tree Trimming 1
Overgrown canopies put the trees at risk of toppling during blustery El Niño driven winds

“These pines are in dire need of care,” says Darin Morris, a Grand Boulevard resident and landscape architect,  “all the canopies are quite dense and severely top heavy, which puts them at extreme risk of blowing over in El Niño storms.”

The trees had originally been planted by a group of Venice residents.

Mark Ryavec, the president of the VSA, says, “Jim Murez, Ed Barger and I led about 200 volunteers to plant these trees about 20 years ago.  I remember that we named all the trees and that the one I helped plant is named after my great-aunt Lucy.  I feel a personal sense of stewardship.”

The project is being funded by donations paid to the VSA. Ryavec, Morris, and Erin Sullivan  raised $4,400 of the $5,000 needed to pay for the licensed landscaping firm to perform the trimming.

VSA Tree Trimming 3
Campos Greenview Tree Service have been thinning and trimming the trees paid for by the VSA

“Many have asked why the Post Office or the City is not paying for the trimming. We’ve checked with both and neither have the funds for the trimming now, while there is urgency so we don’t lose any of these trees in the coming storms,” says Ryavec.

Sullivan, Morris and Ryavec initially proposed to the Postal Service and the City to widen all the tree wells to better accommodate the tree roots and  install decomposed granite in the wider tree wells to allow more water to reach the roots. They also proposed cracked sidewalk sections be replaced.

The Venice Neighborhood Council’s Neighborhood Committee had reviewed and approved the VSA application for the $5,000  to fund the project, but  ultimately the money was not made available.

VSA Tree Trimming 2
The thinned out canopies will make the tress less of a hazard for the community

Morris felt the VNC had elected to fund projects based on favoritism.

“It was sad, as they missed the long-term value of the trees as a community asset.  If they receive proper care these trees have the potential to outlive all of us,” he says.

“Italian Stone Pines need proper pruning to grow to the majestic beauties that they can become, which will create a grand, inspiring streetscape,” says Morris.

Donors to the trimming project include Erin Sullivan, Russ Cletta, Darin Morris, Janne and Jack Kindberg, David Hertz, Scott Spector and Ralph Ziman.

“We want to keep improving Venice,” says Ryavec.

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