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Council Could Require Developers Provide More Shade


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By Jorge Casuso

June 11, 2024 -- The City Council on Tuesday voted to explore requiring those who build on private land to replace every tree removed with three new trees.

Placed on the agenda by Councilmember Phil Brock, the item seeks "to protect and preserve" Santa Monica's dwindling tree canopy, which is being lost due to both commercial and residential development.

The trees should not be palm trees, which are a form of grass, but trees that provide shade, Brock said.

"It's going to take years for those small trees to become mature and really help us with our canopy," Brock said.

The ordinance the City Manager and City attorney were asked to bring back to Council should ensure that it would be "incumbent on the developer to put in those trees," Brock said.

Brock signaled out streets such as Lincoln Boulevard between Broadway and Olympic, where large apartment building are going up, as well as between Wilshire and San Vicente boulevards, where trees are being removed to make way for large houses.

Councilmember Jesse Zwick, who attended the meeting remotely, noted that the sidewalks along Lincoln would need to be widened to plant trees.

"One of the limitations to street trees is the narrowness of the sidewalks," Zwick said. "We should also consider widening the sidewalks."

Brock noted that the City is constructing a Lincoln Boulevard Greenway Area that will address some of the limitations and would "like to see developers move the buildings back a few feet" to accommodate trees.

He also noted there are "plenty of empty tree wells" in the city where the trees can be planted.

"I'm not sure I care where the trees are planted," Brock said, "just that they get planted and cared for."

Brock noted that the City of West Hollywood has implemented a similar ordinance and that Culver City could soon follow.

The Council voted unanimously on the motion to "develop policies that regulate tree removal as a result of new development including exploring replacement requirements as part of the development or on public property."

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