Beverly Hills cutting down dozens of ficus trees as part of sidewalk project

Officials said tree roots have been causing problems with sidewalks and underground pipes for years.

Jory Rand Image
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Beverly Hills cutting down ficus trees as part of sidewalk project
Officials said tree roots have been causing problems with sidewalks and underground pipes for years and said there's no feasible way to transplant the trees somewhere else.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- There's a battle brewing in Beverly Hills over some of its majestic ficus trees.

The city is cutting down nearly 90 trees as part of a sidewalk project.

Officials said tree roots have been causing problems with sidewalks and underground pipes for years and said there's no feasible way to transplant the trees somewhere else.

"Our arborist took a really close look at it and made the determination that the best thing to do would be to replace them so we will remove these, and will repair the sidewalk, make those changes, and then replace New Mexican fan palms and crape myrtles in place of these trees," said Beverly Hills Deputy City Manager Keith Sterling.

David Mirharooni owns several properties along Robertson Boulevard. He said he noticed problems back in 2019 with people tripping and falling due to the damaged sidewalks.

He petitioned the city to make some preemptive changes.

"This issue could happen in six years, it could happen in seven years, it could happen in one year, we don't know," he said. "The answer is it will likely happen, and so if we are, as a city, and we're master planning what this city's going to be, I think number one is safety and if ficus trees, in general, are a hazard, then they should be replaced."

Over the court of the next six to nine months, the trees will be removed, one by one.

The sidewalk will be replaced and new trees will be planted, but that means when we get to those hot summer months, there may be zero tree shade on the busy street.

"We're mindful of the fact that this is a change but I think we have some credibility when it comes to trees in urban forest and we take that very seriously and work," said Sterling. "We're going to make sure this is at the same standards that it's been for so many years."

Some residents, however, aren't fans of the idea.

"It doesn't make sense why so many trees are being cut down," said one resident.

Another resident said, "It's terrible! They're not hurting anybody."