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Council candidates focus on tree issues


California Green Linda Piera-Avila participated in a forum with 12 other candidates in her race:

Santa Monica Daily Press article

Council candidates focus on tree issues

BY MELODY HANATANI, Daily Press Staff Writer

For once there was a candidates forum that had nothing to do with development, traffic or even the homeless.

Instead the eight aspiring City Council contenders who gathered at the Ken
Edwards Center on Thursday focused solely on what has perhaps been the hottest topic of the past year — urban forestry.

A total of 13 people — including all incumbents — will be vying for four seats on the City Council this fall. Only one of the
four incumbents — Councilmember Ken Genser — participated in the forum, with Mayor Pro Tem Richard Bloom submitting
his answers to a set of questions in time for the event.

The forum, as expected, paid close attention to the removal of 23 ficus trees deemed structurally deficient in Downtown Santa
Monica earlier this year, one of the questions focusing on whether the candidates would have voted for the plan.

The council last summer passed a down- town beautification plan, which included a proposal to remove and transplant 54 ficus trees. All of the councilmembers, with the exception of Kevin McKeown, have defended the plan in its entirety, stressing the need to remove the physically unsound trees in
order to ensure public safety.

The near consensus among candidates at the forum was they would’ve voted against the plan.

“I would’ve listened to the people who came to speak at council meetings requesting modification of the streetscape (plan) to
preserve the trees,” Linda M. Piera-¬°vila said.

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