Laurel Canyon Boulevard trees in Sherman Oaks were trimmed in a project to help reduce the danger of fires in the area. Trees along this road and in a few other Hollywood Hills areas have had limbs that hang down below 14 feet, which is the clearance requirement for fire department trucks to get through to respond to a fire emergency. “This project has been talked about for years. It’s a public safety issue, and it’s getting worse in the Hollywood Hills,” said Fire Department Fire Inspector John Novela.
The state has designated 190,000 parcels as being in a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, and the tree trimming project is within this zone. Previously, 130,000 parcels were within this zone, but more development has meant more parcels are now in this zone. With the increase in residences in this high fire hazard zone, there has also been a decrease in the Urban Forestry budget to trim trees. Trees were previously trimmed on a 13-year cycle. Now they are in a 33-year tree trimming cycle. The fire department is now hiring contractors to trim trees to ensure clearance for their fire trucks and to reduce the chance of fires spreading through the tree tops.
“We learned from the Oakland fire 20 years ago that out-of-control vegetation feeds a fire, especially tree canopies where fire spreads from tree to tree,” Novela said.
An experienced arborist has been helping with the project to ensure mature trees aren’t damaged by the trimming. Trees that are found hazardous due to instability are removed entirely.
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