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Time for a Trim on Hope Street

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, August 26, 2008, at 05:16PM
Low Canopy Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This photo, taken from eye level, shows a solid section of ficus canopy that's roughly five feet above the sidewalk.

Tree cover on a sidewalk is a wonderful thing when it comes to trying to beat the L.A. heat.

It's less wonderful when it reaches down so low that pedestrians are forced to duck while traveling along the sidewalk.

The double row of ficus trees that line Hope street next to Grand Hope Park are desperately in need of a trim. In one section, pictured here, a solid layer of ficus comes down to approximately the five-foot level, forcing pedestrians to duck as they make their way along.

The city's Urban Forestry Division, part of the Bureau of Street Services, is responsible for maintaining street trees in Los Angeles. The department is in charge of 700,000 trees, and its page on the pruning cycle says that the time between trimmings averages nine years. For a tree that grows as fast as the ficus, that's quite the wait.

The lengthy wait means that when trees are trimmed, the results are rather drastic. While Urban Forestry's guidelines say that "Seldom should more than 25% of the trees foliage shall be removed," trimming of ficus trees Downtown has typically resulted in 80 - 90% of the foliage getting cut off. That makes for an odd look while the trees grow back.

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