The California Coastal Commission has approved a landscaping project begun in 1999 on the northwest perimeter of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that includes a landscaped path and removal of 90 palm trees that were planted illegally.
The project is bounded by the south side of Waterview Street, Rindge Avenue and Napoleon Street — between Pershing Drive and Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey.
Work on the project is scheduled to begin in mid-April, although the palm trees will remain until officials of Los Angeles World Airports — the City of Los Angeles agency that operates LAX and other city airports — have hired a private contractor through the mandatory bid process, which may take four months, said Nancy Castles, LAX spokeswoman.
The project originated when local residents asked airport officials to beautify the 30-foot-wide strip of land — filled with weeds, rodents and the occasional snake — along Waterview and Napoleon Streets, and Rindge Avenue from Pershing Drive to Vista del Mar.
Officials hadn’t applied for a permit from the California Coastal Commission and had 90 Mexican fan palms planted, to the annoyance of homeowners who called the trees “ugly,” and said the palms blocked their ocean views.
A local environmental organization claimed that the palms were non-native vegetation that could harm sensitive plants and insects in the adjacent dunes area.
Castles said that an extensive grading and planting plan specifies where non-native vegetation can be removed by machine and where it has to be removed by hand.
Native lupine on one section of Waterview Street will be fenced off to avoid damage by the workers, Castles said.
The area will now be bordered by vinyl-clad chain link fence instead of the decorative wrought iron fencing first planned, said Castles.
Neighborhood resident Bonnie Levine contacted airport and California Coastal Commission officials last year in an effort to get the stalled project of removing the palms moving forward, and she initiated efforts to have airport officials and coastal commission officials come and examine the site.
Longtime resident Barbara Griffin, who said she had given up hope that the project would be completed and the trees removed, says she is thrilled by the decision to restart the removal of the palms, adding that she never thought the project of clearing the trees would ever happen.