Walking out of L.A.'s gorgeous Union Station, the landscape is sparse: parking lots and wide, ugly Alameda Street filled with trucks and cars. As beautiful as the station is, it's surrounded by urban desert with little protection from the sun on a hot day, except if you cross the wide street. There, large shade trees in giant boxes line Alameda's sidewalk and offer an umbrella of green over Olvera Street's easternmost plaza and fountain, a favorite gathering spot for families on the weekend.
But this is all to be destroyed. I saw papers taped to the trees notifying us that at least 10 old trees are going to be cut down because of a "general improvement." Improvement? Small trees, hardly shade providers, will be planted: the California pepper and chitalpa.
How can this be happening when we know that public money is tight, that shade is desperately needed to cool our city and that large trees provide beauty and better-quality air?
Judith Markoff Hansen