Opinion Marina View: ‘Marina del Razed’

Posted December 30, 2015 by The Argonaut in Columns

New Year’s Resolution: Re-sensitize ourselves to the killing of trees

By William Hicks

Massacre on Via Marina: One of 18 mature trees cut down last week  Photo by William Hicks

Massacre on Via Marina: One of 18 mature trees cut down last week
Photo by William Hicks

To borrow a phrase from the late President Ronald Reagan, “Well, there he goes again!”

Last December, L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe allowed workers to cut down 650 trees at Oxford Basin Lagoon in order to dredge for flood control purposes and ultimately create a park.

This December they’re cutting down 18 more — many of them beautiful mature coral trees (the “official tree” of L.A.) along Via Marina in what has become Marina del “Razed.”

Perhaps Mr. Knabe will implement an annual tree cutting ceremony to celebrate the holidays.

The L.A. County Dept. of Beaches and Harbors announced ahead of time that the 18 trees cut down last week were dead, dying or diseased.

There are International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) evaluation forms for 11 of the trees, but not the other seven ruled dead. Each was completed by JTL Consultants, a government contractor that is run by certified arborists.

To be fair, the ISA reports for the seven coral trees, two Italian stone pines and two Monterey pines do list various concerns about the conditions of the trees and take guesses at how risky those conditions could be.

One coral tree at Yvonne B. Burke Park, for example, is said to be “in decline with sparse foliage and cracked branches.” Another coral tree along Via Marina is said to have signs of wetwood decay. Other trees were basically just crowding out or being crowded out by other trees.

Perhaps that’s why Ballona Institute board president Roy van de Hoek tells me the cross-sections of recently cut trees that he saw showed no evidence of disease. So as to any diseases, I can’t tell you at this point what they are or whether other trees might be at risk.

As for mitigation options, two words keep showing up on the forms: “remove tree.” No other options. No notes about what could be done to save the trees. Just a “Take’m down, boys,” essentially.

Perhaps we need a Department of Beaches & “Arbors,” because after all that’s happened the past couple years I don’t think that B&H really gives a splinter about trying to save trees.

But this isn’t just about trees. In a broader sense, this is about a mindset of killing. About a desensitization to killing.

Ever since we were children, dead things just showed up on our plates — vegetables, fish, chicken, hamburgers, bacon, you name it — with no indication of where they came from or who killed them.

In the old days, if you didn’t kill it yourself then you didn’t eat, and you were the dead one. Nowadays, as long as you have enough money to go to the store and buy food you can eat whatever you want.

As we grew up, we noticed creepy things crawling around: some had six legs, eight legs, hundreds of legs, or no legs at all. Because they were small and weird-looking, it was acceptable to just squash them.

In school we learned about wars waged by evil people who needed killin’. Kill or be killed. Early on it was hand-to-hand combat, when men had to look into the eyes of whom they were killing. There was some chivalry to killing, if you can call it that.

But apparently the ends justified the means, because spears, bows and arrows, catapults, gunpowder, guns and cannons were invented. Fighting in rows was replaced by trench warfare and guerilla warfare. Now we have landmines, missiles, bombs and enough nukes to kill all of us several times over.

After the Cold War ended and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) wasn’t as much of a threat, it was replaced with terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

And now we have drones controlled by people behind desks, who can grab a cup of coffee after killing somebody — people likely raised on “killing people” video games. If my psychology degree taught me anything, it’s that this isn’t healthy.

So with all of this killing going on, what’s a few trees?

After all, trees are just a commodity, right? Ever since the dawn of man they were just used for burning and keeping warm. Then they were used for creating tools, furniture, homes and paper.

The difference is we’re not living in the Stone Age. There are more than 7 billion people living on the planet.

My wife and I recently attended an event in Brentwood in which Congressman Ted Lieu said, “Trees are the best way to remove carbon dioxide from the air.”

Not to mention they create oxygen and catch rainfall.

Trees are vital to our survival, which is why so many people get upset when one gets cut down, let alone 18 or 650 of them. These people aren’t just “tree huggers.” These people care about life on Earth.

As we begin the New Year, I propose that we become reacquainted with the value of trees and re-sensitized to the killing of trees. That way more of
us will react when there are plans to cut them down.

William Hicks lives in Marina del Rey. Reach him at williamhicks.columnist@gmail.com.

Editor’s Note (Jan. 7): The story has been changed to remove information that had been incorrectly cited as a direct quote.


    Anne Kirkpatrick

    William- you’re a great writer! Thank you for bringing this to people’s attention- so many people right here in the Marina don’t know that this is happening!

      William Hicks

      Thank you for your comment, Anne. Why don’t they just remove the diseased limbs instead of cutting the whole darn tree down? Why don’t they tell us what the disease was? Are other trees at risk of catching this mysterious disease? Where did it come from? Why so many unanswered questions? I think that you should send a letter to Beaches and Harbors and ask them. If they won’t provide the info then demand it as their employer.

    LaVerne Boeckmann

    Discusting has to be stopped or have unbiased verification of disease. I saw them after they were cute and there was no disease or bugs etc….all lies.


    Well said! It’s becoming clear that, either due to ignorance or the desire to burn year end budgets, the Dept of Beaches & Harbors can not be entrusted with MDR’s trees. They are not only adding to climate change and destroying the natural beauty of Marina del Rey, they are also impacting local and migratory wildlife that depend on this area. The time has come to finally pass some laws restricting the mindless removal of mature trees without compelling cause.

    David W. Kay

    William Hicks’ opinion piece on “killing” trees is one of the most bizarre essays I’ve ever read. Whatever he’s smoking, I’d like to try (under medical supervision, of course)!

    His criticism of County management would turn 180 degrees if a diseased tree limb snapped and crushed a passing kid on a bicycle. Enough said.


    Thank you for caring about the trees, William, and for taking people on a journey of our dysfunctional cultural development and conditioning of continued violence and killing. We are indeed disconnected from nature and the interconnected world and intersectional systems of injustice and violations towards each other (humanity), our fellow earthlings and the planet that supports our very existence. Vegan consciousness is rooted in connecting to this reality towards all life and striving to live a new and truly civilized foundation of symbiotic nonviolence in modern society deeply yearning for and striving for a verdant, nonviolent, equitable and sustainable global society.

    When people decide to live in integrity with the universal values of peace, love, kindness, compassion, respect, dignity, equality, empathy (the golden rule), truth, liberty, justice and the right to pursue happiness…for all earthlings, the path to being part of the solution to building the better world becomes clear: A Vegan Shift is the future.

    Love life, live vegan.

      William Hicks

      Thank you for your message, Eriyah, and for taking a stand for the trees at Oxford Basin. Were all 650 trees there diseased as well? If so, what was the disease? There certainly wasn’t a risk of those trees hurting anyone. Why not just treat or remove the diseased limbs, if they were in fact diseased? The fact that there are so many unanswered questions and we haven’t been given any details points to other motives. Public servants are supposed to serve the public and be transparent about everything. Private employees would be fired by their employers for going rogue like that.


        Hi William,

        Since I am not an arborist, I could not intelligently comment on the disease status or treatment options of the trees. There were a few clearly dead trees, there were some that appeared partially dead, and the majority of the trees there did NOT fit either of those descriptions. The majority of the trees appeared to be thriving and in excellent condition as they were large, established, and were loaded with berries and flowers. The eucalyptus trees were also loaded with wintering Monarch butterflies.

        I’ll never forget all the birds frantically flying into the remains of what had been cut down and making what sounded like cries of panic and despair from their communications. I could not help but think about how the birds, butterflies and other wildlife who have lived in that protected sanctuary for the last 60 years were going to adapt. This kind of devastating pressure is occurring everywhere as humans continue population overshoot and destroy natural habitats. I thought the least they could do was leave the trees there on the ground with the berries for the birds to get through the winter and early spring. I hoped they would bring the replacement trees and stage them on site so the birds had some protection and food over the winter. They did not do either.

        You can find a lot of the photo’s of the trees and wildlife uploaded and posted on the Friends of Oxford Lagoon Facebook page.

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