Residents Riled Over City Removing/Trimming Wrigley Greenbelt Trees During Bird Nesting Months; Public Works Dept. Says It'll Replace/Add Trees And Can Do What It's Doing; Wildlife Advocate Cantrell Cites Parks Tree Trimming Policy That Says Otherwise
|(March 23, 2021, 8:45 a.m.) -- A number of residents in L.A. River adjacent neighborhoods and beyond are up in arms over the City's Public Works Dept.(through a hired contractor) removing/trimming trees along the Wrigley Greenbelt, a strip of green space from Willow St. to 34th St. that L.A. County owns and lets the City use as a city park/open space.
On Thursday March 16, Carlos Ovalle (founder of the grassroots "People of Long Beach") spotted the tree removal/trimming and spread the word on social networks. The next morning, a group of residents arrived at the site displaying a large sign citing rules/laws they say prohibit the tree removal/trimming during time periods (including now) when birds are nesting.
The City's Public Works Dept. says its actions are permitted, part of a plan to replace and add more trees than it's removing and in a statement says current city policy doesn't prohibit what it did, After temporarily pausing its tree related activities at the site, the Public Works Dept. has indicated it plans to resume them.
[Public Works Dept. March 22 text via Jennifer Carey, Community Relations Officer]
However veteran environmentalist/wildlife protection advocate Ann Cantrell (who has for years urged a clear policy against trimming trees during bird nesting months) cites a 2009 Parks Dept policy -- not mentioned in the Public Works Dept. statement -- that is inconsistent with the Public Works Dept. actions. "It says no tree trimming from Jan. 15 to Sept. 1 except for public safety," Ms. Cantrell says. "If the trees must be removed during nesting season, they must be inspected by a biologist or ornithologist BEFORE any work is done, not after."
[Scroll down for further.] .
|The Parks Dept policy, referenced by Ms. Cantrell, is below. It isn't mentioned in the Public Works Dept. statement:
Ms. Cantrell says the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and CA Fish and Game codes also prohibit this work during nesting season (citing an attachment from the Biological report for the proposed project at 712 Baker St. among the City's Development Services Environmental Reports.
LBEPORT.com has also learned that Mr. Ovalle has contacted both state and federal wildlife protection agencies to pursue the issues further.
All of this occurs in the context of controversy over the proposed use of an LA River adjacent parcel in the Los Cerritos area north of the 405 freeway (3701 N. Pacific Place) that the Riverpark Coalition says should be parkland instead of a parking lot/vehicle storage facility, office space. Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell, Assembly Spanker Anthony Rendon and Congressman Alan Lowenthal have vaariously voiced support for the Riverpark Coalition's efforts.
The parcel's owner (using a previous City Hall-enacted change in the parcel's land use from open space to neo-industrial) has an April 13 City Council scheduled hearing (on an appeal by Riverpark supporters of Planning Comm'n recommended zoning changes to facilitate the storage facility/parking lot.)
Facing pressure from the Riverpark coalition, CD 8 Councilman Al Austin agendized and received Feb. 2, 2021 Council voted approval to seek a city staff report on the "feasibility of acquiring open space for public park development along LA River consistent with the Long Beach RiverLink plan and the Lower LA River Master Plan" and report "back within 60 days." .
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