Letters to the Editor: Palm trees are fire hazards that provide no shade. Why does L.A. still have them?

A child rides abike on a sidewalk.
A child rides his bike on an block in San Marino that, though filled with palm trees, is largely unshaded.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: Thank you for your the well-researched article on the usefulness of urban palm trees in a warming world.

A semantic conundrum is that palms, botanically speaking, are not trees. They’re more closely related to grasses. It’s helpful to know this when realizing that palms provide none of the benefits that trees do.

Palms provide almost no wildlife habitat, with the exception that rats love them. Trees, and especially native ones, provide habitat for all manner of birds, insects and mammals.


While this doesn’t specifically address our warming environment, it does help reverse the comparable evils of habitat and species loss.

Jeff Bennett, Pasadena


To the editor: Even with my aging porous memory, I remember former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s promise to plant 1 million trees. We know now how well that went.

Recently, an L.A. city tree-trimming crew came through our sparsely green mid-city neighborhood and uniformly and unnecessarily trimmed blocks and blocks of trees that were not in need of it. The workers removed much-needed shade and greenery.

Their infrequent efforts could have been better used planting trees instead of butchering the too few that remain.

How to deep-water the new trees and promote healthy growth? Perhaps our wonderful Fire Department pumper trucks can come by on a weekly basis when not on calls and give the new trees a lifesaving drink of water. Goodness knows the city won’t maintain them.


Toby Horn, Los Angeles


To the editor: The article omits another important reason to ditch the palm trees — their shape resembles a tiki torch, and that’s what they become in wildfires.

Due to the high cost of pruning, there are often dead branches hanging high up that easily catch fire and then shower the area below with burning embers that help spread the fire.

And there is the possible injury or property damage from the falling fronds when the winds pick up. Sherman Way in the San Fernando Valley is littered with the dead fronds after a Santa Ana wind event because the city of L.A. doesn’t prune the palm trees that line the major street very often.

Steven Leffert, Lake Balboa



To the editor: Yes, it is time to ditch palm trees.

In addition to the fact that they don’t provide shade, the palm fronds themselves can become hazards on windy days. I’ve been hit by flying fronds. Some are spiky and tough enough to damage vehicles. The fronds left behind on the ground block sidewalks and roads.

On top of that, palm fronds generally can’t be mulched or composted as with other green waste.

Rana Parker, Pasadena