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Tree Activist Unchained

By Jorge Casuso

September 29 – Local activist Jerry Rubin can hug any tree in Santa Monica he likes, as long as he doesn’t chain himself to try and save it, according to an agreement reached in Superior Court Friday.

The agreement struck during Rubin’s arraignment in Superior Court lifts a restraining order that forbade Rubin from coming withing 100 yards of 4th Street between Colorado Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Downtown Santa Monica.

The City Council candidate was arrested on September 3 after chaining himself to a Downtown ficus tree slated to be uprooted and moved to a nearby park to pave the way for an $8.2 million streetscape project along 2nd and 4th streets

“I went up 2nd and 4th streets hugging some trees, looking at the area where I was arrested, feeling sad,” Rubin said. “I hugged the tree where Treesavers had their first rally.”

Rubin said he has the go ahead to pick up the chains at the City’s Public Safety Facility, where they are being held as evidence, but promised he wouldn’t use them.

“I gave my word I’m not gonna do it,” Rubin said. “I was alaways willing to accept responsibility for my actions.”

To comply with the restaining order imposed three weeks ago, Rubin has had to miss meetings he regularly attends at the Ken Edwards Center on 4th Street.

He also has had to change his daily route from his Ocean Park condo on 4th Street to the Promenade, where he sells bumper stickers.

Rubin, who started the grassroots group Treesavers to head off the removal of dozens of Downtown ficus trees, pleaded no contest to charges that he interfered with a municipal project and agreed to pay $120 in court costs.

During the arraignment, the City agreed to drop charges that Rubin had resisted arrest. Rubin was placed on probation for one year by Judge Ralph Amado and cannot “interfere with tree work in the City of Santa Monica.”

Rubin, who wore long pants in court for one of the few times in years, said he would continue to focus his council campaign on saving trees, his “number one priority.”

“I’m going to double my efforts to organize with Treesavers to get a Tree Commission,” he said.

Despite Rubin’s efforts to stop the City from removing seven ficus trees earlier this month, work crews proceeded with the work as scheduled, leaving 127 ficus trees along the two Downtown blocks that flank the Promenade.

In addition to removing the seven trees, the City chopped down 23 ficus trees in May, three days after an Appeals Court rejected a case filed by Treesavers in March and lifted a temporary stay order, capping a headline-grabbing battle between the City and Treesavers.

In addition to removing and relocating the ficus trees, the streetscape project will add 120 new ginko trees, as well as decorative up-lighting to the remaining ficus trees.

The project also calls for repairing sidewalks or curbs damaged by their roots, enlarging tree wells, installing new pedestrian lighting to illuminate sidewalk areas, enhancing six mid-block crosswalks and adding accessibility improvements for the handicapped.

Treesavers has said the group does not oppose the overall project, only the removal of the trees.

Ted Winterer for Santa Monica City Council

Dr. Margaret


Vote # 158


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