A community group plans to plant about 100 trees in Lennox on Saturday, although roughly half of the trees are not on Los Angeles County's approved planting list.
The trees are California sycamores (Platanus racemosa), a species native to the state.
An official with the group said the tree is ideal because of its large shade canopy and its ability to absorb carbon dioxide.
“Most importantly for Lennox, which has one of the worst air qualities not only in the county but in the state, it is a tree that sequesters a lot of carbon emissions,” said Viviana Franco, executive director of From Lot to Spot.
“For a community like Lennox, that is hugged by the 105 and 405 freeways and the sixth-largest airport in the world, LAX, we think that it is the clear and right choice,” she said.
Franco said choices approved for the area by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works are too small to provide adequate shade for the canopy-poor area.
A county official said California sycamores are not appropriate for the community because of the small footprint of parkways in Lennox and the presence of overhead power lines.
“Surface roots become a problem, because they lift up the sidewalk, they damage the curb, they damage the street; and that’s not something that happens right away. It takes about 15, 20 years to damage the infrastructure,” said Greg Even, a district engineer for the Department of Public Works.
Franco said the spots where they plan to put the sycamore trees will not interfere with power lines.
The plantings will occur in spots along four avenues: Dalerose, Condon, Mansel and Truro. In addition to the sycamores, From Lot to Spot will plant Southern Live Oak trees, which are approved for the area.
“We specifically chose where we’re planting the California sycamores as not under any power lines,” Franco said.
Franco said neighboring cities have planted the sycamores and have had few management problems with the trees. She said her organization would train community members in proper watering and maintenance so that roots would grow deep and not interfere with surface infrastructure.
From Lot to Spot received a grant from the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District in 2012 to do the plantings. The grant included plans to plant the sycamores.
Franco said the grant requires all planting work to be completed by the end of June. If the timeline is not met, her organization could miss out on tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements for the work.
Franco said residents’ need for shade and cleaner air necessitate the plantings.
“Although they have not been officially approved by Los Angeles County Public Works, we believe this is the right path for justice for Lennox to go ahead and implement our tree-planting project,” Franco said.
Even of the Department of Public Works said despite the county’s opposition to the plantings, it would not stop the activities on Saturday, nor would it remove the trees once they are planted.
“If they go forward without our concurrence, then I guess we’ll have to see what we can do to manage these trees,” Even said.