The City of Los Angeles has removed two trees and a portion of fencing in front of a rental property in Venice in preparation for construction related to a Ballona Lagoon enhancement plan.

In a letter to the property owner, Meir Dehry, Los Angeles Street Improvement and Stormwater Division manager, notified him that his property at 120 Hurricane St. would be directly affected because the trees (ficus and podacarpus) and a portion of the fence have encroached upon the city’s right-of-way.

Construction of a five-foot-wide decomposed granite public access pathway between Topsail Street and Canal Court is one of four planned improvements under the lagoon enhancement Phase IIIA plan.

The Los Angeles Department of Public Works began cutting the trees down on Tuesday, February 9th under a coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission as part of the construction of Phases IIIA and IIIB of the Ballona Lagoon Enhancement Plan, said Cora Jackson Fossett, public works spokeswoman.

“Public Works has been working closely with the Los Angeles City Council office [11th District represented by Bill Rosendahl] and local residents on this project and we encourage citizens to let us know about any concerns,” said Fossett.

Neil Hurwitz, a ten-year resident of the property, told The Argonaut that the loss of the trees is a loss to the many birds that frequent the area and make use of the trees.

“We have two great white herons that walk up the embankment from the lagoon to the natural dirt path. With the building of a new path and railings at the embankment edge, these beautiful birds won’t be able to walk up there anymore,” said Hurwitz.

He said he had never been much of a birdwatcher before, but with all of the birds spending a great deal of time in these trees — Catalina hummingbirds, egrets, osprey and other birds — he developed a great love and appreciation for them.

“They plan to put this new path in where we now have a natural path and have a sitting area for people closer toward Pacific Avenue,” he said.

“They chopped up a lot for very little.”

He continued, “The regular people who walk their dogs along the path couldn’t believe that the trees had been cut down. There could have been a compromise. Cleaning up the debris in the lagoon should have been a higher priority.”

The coastal development permit includes removal of non-native vegetation and encroachments (including but not limited to, fences, walls, lighting, irrigation improvements, decks/patios, and residential landscaping).

The project also includes revegetation with native dune plants; realigning and improving of the west bank public access trail between Topsail Street and Canal Court; construction of a split-rail fence along the public access trail and inland edge of easements; and construction of a public education and information area with benches near Jib Street at Pacific Avenue.

Construction hours will be between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and it will take approximately seven months to complete the project contract work.

Two lanes of traffic along Pacific Avenue will be maintained at all times, a city report said.

The Ballona Lagoon Enhancement Plan project will restore coastal wetland habitat and will improve a public access path along the west side of the lagoon and vegetate the western bank of the lagoon with native plants, according to Public Works documentation.

The coastal development permit with the project description and staff recommendations are available online at

http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2009/4/W17c-4-2009.pdf/.

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