Environmentally-concerned Bel-Air residents reach agreement with collaborative and community-minded Bel-Air owner-developer on his application to remove 34 protected trees

An agreement was signed on April 23, 2017, that significantly reduces the number of protected Coast Live Oak and Black Walnut trees to be removed at a development site on Bellagio Place. The agreement provides for on-site monitoring to ensure specific protections for the retained native-species protected trees during construction. It also stipulates that, except for an area adjacent to the house, the landscaping of the large parcel will be with drought tolerant species native to Southern California and will incorporate and support the protected native vegetation.

The tree-saving endeavor involved hours of meetings with the owner’s attorneys and architects, and with the LADBS grading department, as well as two lengthy hearings before the Board of Public Works at City Hall.

The BAA is working toward more meaningful analysis of development projects and seeking to raise questions that may result in the voluntary and collaborative modification of projects to reduce environmental impacts. Our hillside ecosystems provide irreplaceable habitat for the wealth of wildlife that make their homes in the Santa Monica Mountains, and the level of development in recent years has caused devastating losses to the level of tree canopy cover throughout Los Angeles, including Bel Air.

The Bel-Air Association would like to thank Bel-Air residents Dr. Linda Whitford and April Tausik, and Jamie Hall and Mimi Brand of Channel Law Group, who undertook the challenge to oppose the tree removal permit, and prompted the owner-developer, LADBS, and the Board of Public Works to take a second look and perform a meaningful analysis of the project and its potential alternatives.

This ultimately resulted in voluntary modifications to the retaining walls and building plans that saw fourteen significant trees saved, alongside an exemplary and standard-setting commitment from the owner to create native habitat throughout the parcel at the project conclusion. The BAA would like to thank the environmentally conscious and collaborative owner, as well as his crackerjack professional team — architects Michael Kovac and Thomas Schneider of Kovac Design Studio; Bob Hollingsworth of Grover-Hollingsworth geotechnical consultants; and Penny Flinn of Pacific Crest Consultants — who used their skills and ingenuity to formulate and promote the approval of the project changes that saved the trees