The 23 ficus trees that have been part of an eight-month dispute in downtown Santa Monica were felled Friday, leaving only seven slated for transplanting at another date.
City workers began the chopping at 6 a.m., apparently catching activists off guard.
Members of Santa Monica Treesavers had threatened to chain themselves to the trees, and have not ruled out such action to save the trees scheduled for transplanting.
The city plans to plant 254 ginkgo trees in the downtown area as part of an $8-million street-improvement project.
-- Francisco Vara-Orta