Burbank residents launch grassroots effort to save beloved pine trees targeted for removal

Josh Haskell Image
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Burbank residents launch effort to save trees targeted for removal
Residents of a Burbank neighborhood have launched a grassroots effort to save more than 70 giant trees after the city announced plans to remove the beloved pines.

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- Residents of a Burbank neighborhood have launched a grassroots effort to save about 77 giant trees after the city announced plans to remove the beloved pines.

The dozens of Aleppo pine trees that line Niagara Street, between Olive Avenue and Hollywood Burbank Airport, are over 100 years old.

"The major, major selling point is the mature tree-lined street, and you pay a premium for that," said Dyane MacKinnon, who lives on Niagara Street. "I can turn off my AC in mid-summer for two-thirds of the day because of the shade of one tree on my house."

So it came as a shock last week when some of the homes on Niagara received a letter from the city of Burbank that said, starting next month, all of the trees are scheduled be removed.

"It's absolutely devastating. It's sickening," said 17-year resident Eryn Krueger-Mukash.

Large tree branch falls on home in La Cañada Flintridge, slices portion of roof

A large tree branch fell on a home in La Cañada Flintridge Tuesday, slicing a portion of the roof.

In a statement, Burbank's director of parks and recreation said: "With a heavy heart, we acknowledge that our beloved Aleppo pine trees, having reached maturity and weakened by drought, must be replaced. Their recent losses in storms highlight the necessity for our community's safety. In the face of evolving urban forestry science and climate changes, we've realized that these magnificent trees have outgrown our residential spaces."

"These trees absorb five times more carbon dioxide than a smaller tree," said MacKinnon. "It's going to take these new trees 50-plus years to get to this point. We won't be able to enjoy that. If you're saying we're environmentally friendly or this is an environmental impact you actually don't know that much about the environment and how this works."

A group of Burbank residents who live on Niagara have started a petition and are working to save the trees, which they say haven't been maintained by the city resulting in images like these from recent storms.

A tree branch destroyed MacKinnon's car, but she doesn't want the trees removed. Instead, MacKinnon said she is upset that the city is telling residents the trees are being removed for insurance purposes.

"If a tree falls, it's considered an act of God or an act of nature and they don't actually pay out insurance," said MacKinnon. "You can sue them, but when you buy a house you're told, 'We don't cover these things.'"

Eryn Krueger-Mukash said she was told by Burbank's mayor that when an Aleppo pine tree is removed from her yard, she'll be able to choose its replacement.

"He emailed me back right away and said, 'There's nothing you can do about it, but there will be a lovely variety of trees to choose from.' Unfortunately, as we've known from the past, some of these houses have asked for trees, maybe when something has been wrong with the tree and it's been years. They still haven't received the tree," said Krueger-Mukash.