Believes park’s conditional approval proves importance of juniper trees

To the Editor:

Now that Santa Monica’s Landmarks Commission has provisionally (i.e.: under four conditions) passed the latest design iteration for Town Square park, there can be no doubt that there is absolutely no reason to destroy the beautiful, evergreen, drought-tolerant juniper trees which have been flanking the front entrance to City Hall since the late 1940s.

They should be allowed to go on living at least another 100 years right where they are. We now have had City Council members, landmark commissioners, Urban Forest Task Force members, Treesavers, and other residents all expressing concern for these beloved trees as well as for the potential loss of their environmental benefits. Are city staff and the designer, James Corner Field Operations, listening?

The Landmarks Commission condition #4 requires any future design to “keep the footprint, …and the profile of the entrance planters, … to retain the depth and height and mass of the planters on either side of the entrance,” because they are, “an integral part of the building structure, … fundamental to City Hall’s landmark building design.” In fact they felt so strongly about it, that this was the only one of the four conditions which they discussed requiring staff and the designers to bring back before them, as a condition of their approval vote.

The redesign rationale for giving these planters a lower, smaller size and profile was the accommodation of a wider ramp at a lesser angle to eliminate a hand railing. This will no longer be an acceptable design if it affects the existing planters.

The planters concerned house juniper trees noted in George T. Hastings second edition (1956) of “The Trees of Santa Monica,” an almost sacred book among local environmentalists. These healthy trees are not transplantable. There never was an acceptable reason to hack them to pieces – merely a design whim. Now they must be saved in place.

Cosmo Bua, Santa Monica

Doesn’t consider planned Crenshaw/LAX line near airport to really be Westchester

To the Editor:

Argonaut, you tease! The Sept. 29 headline “Final Crenshaw/LAX light rail line plan includes one stop in Westchester” made me think, ‘well, there’ll be a stop in Westchester.’ Silly me.

The stop will be at Aviation and Century boulevards along the Los Angeles International Airport hotel corridor – nobody considers this Westchester.

Ask the hotels along Century. Ask the commercial, office, car rental, long-term parking, and freight forwarding businesses. Ask Gateway to LA, the business improvement district in the area. Ask the shuttle, limousine, and taxi drivers taking passengers to the airport.

Finally, ask the people who live in Westchester who won’t drive to the airport in order to board a train to leave the airport.

The Aviation and Century station will serve LAX and the businesses around LAX. That’s a good and necessary thing, but don’t confuse it with a Westchester station.

Edgar Saenz, Westchester

Says making Jewish New Year holiday unpaid for teachers is ‘unacceptable’

To the Editor:

As a sister of a teacher within the Los Angeles Unified School District, I was shocked to learn that the district labeled Sept. 29, the Jewish New Year, as a mandatory “non-assigned, no-paid” day in observance of Rosh Hashanah.

I am sure students were delighted to have a day off from school, but to make this a compulsory unpaid day for teachers is quite unacceptable.

In this stressful economic time, I would hope the district assimilates this unpaid day within the school year calendar. But in the current forum of anti-Semitism throughout the world, to have the district affix such a label on a Jewish holiday just fans the flames of animosity throughout an already disgruntled school district, and beyond.

Wasn’t there a better way to observe the Jewish New Year in the LAUSD?

Roslyn Brooks, Playa del Rey