Owner stops chopping

LA CRESCENTA — The owner of a Foothill Boulevard property agreed Saturday to halt trimming a more than century-old Moreton Bay fig tree after dozens of residents rallied to save it.

Jenny Nam, owner of New Star Realty and Investment at 2620 Foothill Blvd., told a group of La Crescenta leaders that she will instruct crews not to cut and further trim the prized fig tree, which they had begun hacking away at Friday afternoon.

Community members will keep an eye on tree to ensure that Nam sticks to her agreement, said Cheryl Davis, Crescenta Valley Town Council president.

"The entire community is watching the tree," she said.

Crews on Friday chopped a massive tree branch, which caught the attention of residents who quickly mobilized to stop them from cutting the entire tree down.

The next morning, crews returned to start work on the tree, but held off when several residents and community leaders again gathered by the massive fig.

Later that day, community members gathered at the property — some held signs— to speak with Nam and inform her of the tree's significance to the community.

"We really want to impress on the owner that the community really liked this tree, and that they really should have thought about that before they did a slap on the face to us like this," said Mike Lawler, president of the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley.

Lawler and other historical society members drafted a letter, which they had planned to give to Nam, explaining the tree's importance to the community.

Residents have been rallying for the tree since early summer when a previous developer started excavation work on a controversial project. They feared that the tree had been permanently damaged when crews cut branches and performed excavation work, but it endured.

The tree has been a living, natural artifact, which has been standing for 130 to 150 years, said resident Richard Toyon, who's a member the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley.

Before Saturday afternoon's gathering, Toyon told Nam that the historical society had already raised money to pay for the tree's maintenance, and that they could care for it.

"The tree is just important to the community, and I also think the tree is important to your business," he told Nam at Saturday's gathering.

Nam's attorney, Wayne Yee, told the group that the tree trimming had been approved some time ago.

The company got the go-ahead from Los Angeles County officials to cut down the tree, Yee said.

Nam and her husband, he said, didn't know about the importance of the tree until community members began speaking out against the cutting.

In maintaining the tree, he said safety was a major concern because limbs may topple onto the ground during a significant storm.

Yee said he and the property owners will work with Toyon, Davis and alternate Town Councilman Charles Beatty on finding an arborist to examine the tree's condition since the chopping.

"I hope it is savable," Davis said Saturday. "That's why we are all here."

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