A tree giveaway is taking root for Arbor Day.

HANDING OUT THE GREEN: In celebration of Arbor Day, Carson has a shady deal to offer a few hundred of its residents.

The city will give away about 300 Japanese black pine trees, most about 6 feet tall, to anyone willing to give them a good home. The city has raised the trees from seedlings, but voted against paying over $2,000 to repot them.

"They've been sitting there for the last couple of years, and we definitely need to do something with them," said Assistant Planner Mark Gross.

The trees started out as a gift of seeds from sister city Soka, Japan, several years ago as a way of "cementing the sister city relationship," said city spokesman Lou Lusero. For years city maintenance workers have nurtured them, but officials figured it was time to set the trees free.

Interested parties, which might include schools or businesses, may pick up a tree during a ceremony at Scott Park, 23410 S. Catskill Ave., at 1 p.m. April 6 or from 2 to 6 p.m. April 7 and 8. "They can put it in their front yard, place of work, on school sites or wherever," Gross said. Arbor Day is April 22.

The city will plant 25 to 30 of the trees in its parks, then give the rest away on a first-come, first-served basis. Organizers expect more than 600 students from several area schools to be in line.

The city started with 800 of the trees, but had a similar giveaway in 1992. That event freed the maintenance yard of more than 300 of the trees, including 100 to Cal State Dominguez Hills and several to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.


BILLBOARD BUSHWHACK: The air in Los Angeles may be smoggy, as El Segundo's latest advertising campaign claims, but apparently it's clear enough for officials in the City of Angels to see they're being had.

Los Angeles City Council members recently called for a meeting with representatives from El Segundo to discuss two billboards and 40 posters the South Bay city placed around the Southland, including one proclaiming, "From El Segundo you have a perfectly clear view of the smog that hangs over L.A."

The billboards are designed to attract businesses to El Segundo, a city hit hard by cutbacks in the aerospace industry. But Los Angeles officials fear they'll drive businesses away from the greater L.A. area.

"Competition is great, but we believe efforts to denigrate one city (are) counterproductive to our region," says Howard Gantman, a spokesman for City Councilwoman Rita Walters.

El Segundo officials say the billboards are all in good fun, and are not meant to hurt Los Angeles. They've received an increase in phone calls from interested business leaders considering locating in the city, but have yet to hear from anyone in Los Angeles who wants to discuss the ad campaign, they said.

El Segundo Councilman Liam B. Weston, meanwhile, says he's jazzed that Los Angeles officials even noticed the billboards. He plans to frame the motion passed by the Los Angeles City Council that calls for a meeting with El Segundo and hang the copy in his den.

"Even getting a return phone call from anyone in Los Angeles is difficult," Weston says.

--Compiled by DAVE GRIMM

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