[image-comparator title=”Hover your cursor over the image to see the “before and after (Photos – Staff).” left=”http://coloradoboulevard.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Pasadena-ficus-trees-chopped-down-Photo-Staff..jpg” right=”http://coloradoboulevard.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/The-three-ficus-trees-will-be-cut-at-night-between-now-and-Oct.-30-Photo-Staff..jpg” width=”100%” left_alt=”Pasadena ficus trees chopped down (Photo – Staff).” right_alt=”The three ficus trees before being chopped down (Photo – Staff).” classes=”hover”][/image-comparator]
      Hover your cursor over the images above to view the “before and after” (Photos – Staff).

      As the attorney for Save Pasadena Trees, I wish to provide a few points of clarification regarding the situation where the City removed 3 large ficus trees from the sidewalk in front of 497 South Lake Avenue.

      By Mitchell M. Tsai

      Save Pasadena Trees filed a lawsuit claiming that the City of Pasadena’s Tree Protection Ordinance required a public hearing before tree removal and that only city employees or contractors were allowed to remove trees owned by the City of Pasadena. However, the City allowed the owner of 497 South Lake Avenue to remove the Lake Avenue Trees without a court ever having had a chance to hear the merits of this case.

      The City states that the lawsuit was not filed in time to stop the tree removal. My Office informed the City on Monday this past week that Save Pasadena Trees intended to file suit to stop the tree removal and move for a temporary restraining order on either Thursday or Friday. However, on Thursday afternoon, representatives of the Department of Public Works notified Save Pasadena Trees that the City would not be issuing any tree removal permits as City employees were required to do the tree removal themselves and that the removal would not happen until at least 30 days later at the earliest. Based upon that assurance, Save Pasadena Trees notified the City Attorney that Save Pasadena Trees did not intend to move for a temporary restraining order on Friday. The City subsequently issued tree removal permits that Friday.

      It would be easy now to criticize our decision to not move for a temporary restraining order last Friday. However, one thing to note is that to obtain a temporary restraining order, harm must be imminent. Given that the City’s Department of Public Works had already notified Save Pasadena Trees that the tree removal would not occur until at least 30 days later, Save Pasadena Trees did not have at that time, adequate grounds for a temporary restraining order.

      Cut down Saturday night (Photo - Staff).

      Three healthy ficus trees cut down by the City of Pasadena Saturday night (Photo – Staff).

      The City claims that it was bound by the terms of a settlement agreement that was entered into between the City and the owner of 497 South Lake. However, this settlement agreement could have easily been averted had the City simply lived up to commitments that it had made to the owner of 497 South Lake more than a year ago. On March 18, 2015, the City agreed to continue the trial date in its pending lawsuit with Rodeo Holdings based upon the fact that the City would process Rodeo Holdings’ application for removal of the Lake Avenue Trees within 6 to 9 months. Rodeo Holdings submitted that application and the City never acted upon it, never once bringing it to a public hearing before the Urban Forestry Advisory Commission and City Council as required by the City’s Tree Protection Ordinance. More than a year later, without ever having put Rodeo Holdings’ application for tree removal before the public, the City simply entered into a binding settlement agreement committing to granting the tree removal permits.

      It is quite unfortunate that City staff chose to ignore its obligations and commitment to present the reasons behind the Lake Avenue Tree removal to the public. As a result, the residents of this City have lost a priceless ecological resource, all without even an opportunity to understand why.

      Mitchell M. Tsai
      Attorney At Law

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