To clarify, the City's removal of the olive trees impacted only the canopied olive trees shading the Rankin Park picnic area, not the entire grove as my recent letter may have led some readers to believe. The park renovation project did result in the removal of about 45 trees of other species, many of which were designated "heritage trees" by the City's definition. The "diseased tree" explanation for the removal of the 120 year-old olive trees was a "fig leaf" intended to impress those the City thought knew less than it did about such trees. Regarding the "handicap access" issue, a savvy City would have been able to meet both ADA requirements and preserve trees of such community value. I stand by the view that the trees were removed because they were in the way of the area's least cost renovation.
In 1973, a "Save the Olive Grove" community movement in which I participated succeeded in getting the city to buy the entire olive grove from a private owner then intent on replacing it with a housing development.
Recently, a meeting was organized at my suggestion with key City staff to launch a community campaign to "Save the Olive Grove, Part II." I have been assured of the City's support for removing the volunteer oak, bay and eucalyptus trees that over the years have taken root in the grove and then a multi-year project of pruning the olive trees. More information about this effort will soon be provided in the local press and in Patch. All those interested in participating are encouraged to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.