Numbered are the days for hundreds of ficus trees along Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank.
Several residents last week were surprised to hear the city is in the process of removing more than 400 ficus trees in Magnolia Park and replacing them with a tree species more suitable for the street. However, talks about the project have been going on for about a decade.
City spokesman Drew Sugars said he was aware of a decision made by City Council members in 2015 when they approved to appropriate $101,000 toward the city's Forestry Services Program, specifically to remove the ficus trees that were planted between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, and replace them with Chinese Pistache or pink trumpet trees.
However, the City Council in 2009 decided to move forward with the reforestation project, citing that although ficus tress provide shade for residents, they have also created issues for the city, such as growing into power lines, excessive littering of leaves and fruitsand damaging sidewalks and pipelines, according to a city staff report.
"The city put those trees in with the purpose of having them grow and provide shade, but they created some problems," Sugars said. "It's tough for that kind of a tree to be in an urban setting."
Understanding that some residents and business owners would be shocked if all of the trees were removed at once, Sugars said they will be cut down at a staggered rate.
He added that it is important for residents to understand that, although it may be upsetting to see these trees that have been around for about 40 years go away, the decision to replace them was based on improving the city.
"When you run a city, you really have to think in decades and for future generations, and this is that kind of decision that's being made," Sugars said. "It's unfortunate that these beautiful trees are going to go, but in the long run, it's the best thing for the city, and we need to hand the city off to future generations in good shape. Leaving those trees in there would not be leaving the city in good shape."