By Aaron Blevins, 6/12/2014
More than 30 saplings damaged on Vine Street
At least one year of planning and tens of thousands of dollars have been wasted after a vandal or vandals destroyed 32 saplings along Vine Street that were planted through the Green Vine program.
On or around May 19, an unknown suspect tore limbs off a majority of the trees, which were planted through a partnership between the Sunset and Vine Business Improvement District (BID), the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and the city’s Bureau of Sanitation.
BID representatives are now offering a $1,000 reward for information that they hope will sow the seeds of an arrest.
“It’s horrible,” said Sarah Besley, the associate executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, which manages the BID. “We’re just determined to find the perpetrator so that we can get the trees back in the ground.”
She said the trees were $250 apiece, but could not provide the total cost of the project. Besley said similar efforts in the past had come with a price tag of approximately $50,000. The funding was provided through a Bureau of Sanitation grant for planting trees throughout the city.
Further, the organization had already hired a landscape contractor to maintain the trees, and that contract must now be renegotiated, Besley said.
Planning began last summer, when the BID’s streetscape and planning committee members decided they wanted to pursue the possibility of planting trees on Vine Street, which has a lot of pedestrian traffic but little shade, she said.
Many of the trees were planted in the project area, on Vine Street between Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards, in April. Several more were planted later in May, Besley said. The vandalism occurred shortly thereafter.
The tops of many of the Jacarandas have been snapped off, and Besley believes that many of the trees will not survive. BID representatives would like to replant them, but they are hesitant to do so until the suspect is caught and they can rest assured that they won’t be vandalized again.
“I think everyone would be in agreement that we don’t want to plant the trees until they’re sure they won’t be damaged again,” Besley said, adding that BID representatives can’t understand why a person would damage the saplings. “I can’t relate to anyone who would want to destroy thirty trees in a neighborhood.”
The organization is in the process of filing a report with the Los Angeles Police Department, and representatives will ask the Central Hollywood Coalition, which oversees the BID, to approve the reward, Besley said. She said the organization will also reach out to area businesses and property owners for donations.
Besley said the BID will also reach out to Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s office to see if there is an opportunity to create a partnership for the replanting project.
She said the BID representatives have received a lot of e-mails and phone calls in support of the project, which they hope to reconvene soon.
“We’re very upset to see the trees destroyed,” Besley added.
Residents interested in donating to help the cause can contact the Sunset and Vine BID at (323)463-6767.