A Sycamore grows in Santa Monica — actually 2 — killing any development plans

A community effort to save the trees led to a landmark designation

The sycamore trees at 1122 California Avenue are there to stay
The sycamore trees at 1122 California Avenue are there to stay

The treehuggers of Santa Monica have won, although they’ll have to ask permission to embrace the two sycamores they just saved.

After a six-month debate, the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission decided to landmark a pair of intertwined sycamore trees in front of a 100-year-old California Avenue home. That will likely throw off any future plans to redevelop the property, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Santa Monica Recreation and Parks Commissioner John Smith led the effort to landmark the trees and praised the Landmarks Commission following the decision.

“If it weren’t for you, this tree would be firewood already,” he said.

But the new homeowners said they had no plans to demolish their century-old home or the equally old 80-foot-tall sycamores in their front yard. At least that’s what they say.

Lesley and Iradj Shahriary purchased the home in December for $1.8 million, but concern among locals was already brewing about the fate of the trees.

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Alarms went off in October when a contractor for the previous owner told the Daily Press that the home was a teardown and that the trees would probably have to go in the process. The Shahriarys ultimately opposed the landmarking.

The city hired an arborist and based on that report, determined the trees weren’t tied in any way to history or otherwise significant enough to join the five others that have been landmarked in Santa Monica.

Two others have died. The most notable is the Moreton Bay Fig on the ground of the Miramar Hotel, which will become the centerpiece of a garden when the hotel is renovated and redeveloped.

Still, the arborist called the two trees in question “exceptional” and the largest and oldest in the neighborhood. Armed with that same report, the Landmark Commission said it met two of six criteria for landmarking.

The commission will determine a protection zone and maintenance requirements for the newly landmarked trees next week, according to the Daily Press. [Santa Monica Daily Press] — Dennis Lynch