Ficus fans dealt setback in court

A campaign by environmentalists to save 30 mature ficus trees targeted for removal from downtown streets in Santa Monica received a setback Wednesday as a state appeals court ruled attempts to spare the trees came too late.

The Treesavers group did not meet the statute of limitations when it filed a claim accusing the city of violating California Environmental Quality Act regulations, according to the court.

Despite the ruling, Treesavers will press on with its campaign to save the trees along the business district's 2nd and 4th streets, said group spokesman Jerry Rubin. He said activists have unsuccessfully urged the city to hire "an independent certified arborist" to review trees' health and likelihood of branch failure.

City officials want to replace the 20-year-old ficus trees with smaller ginkgoes whose roots are less likely to buckle sidewalks.

-- Bob Pool

For The Record Los Angeles Times Saturday, May 17, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction Ficus trees: An article in Thursday's California section about a state appeals court ruling against a group trying to stop removal of mature ficus trees in Santa Monica said that trees along 2nd and 4th streets were 20 years old. The trees were planted in the 1960s.
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