The City Council voted 4-1 to approve the Seal Beach Main Street tree improvement project. Mayor Michael Levitt cast the dissenting vote.
The council authorized $115,000 to plant the trees along the city’s downtown business district. The project would also include planters with flowers to serve as traffic calming devices.
Staff recommended JCD, Incorporated as the lowest responsible bidder for installing 25 ficus trees.
Levitt said he was “dead set” against a plan that required all the trees to look alike.
Levitt said Leisure World had to remove every one of its ficus trees because of the damage caused by ficus roots.
District 1 Councilwoman Ellery Deaton compared the trees to having a teenager in your home—you wanted to get rid of it, but it was yours. “Those are our trees and we have to embrace them because they’re ours,” Deaton said.
Seal Beach resident and activist Jim Caviolla said the ficus trees were not bad trees, but trees with a bad reputation. He said they would withstand the winds that would blow over other trees.
“People come here to visit the trees,” he said.
He wanted to know what would happen if a business owner did not want a ficus tree—or any other tree—in front of their business.
Sean Crumby, director of Public Works and assistant city manager, said staff was set to plant 25 trees. He said if the council directed staff to allow business owners to object to the trees, staff would comply.
However, Deaton said this was a plan for the business district.
Levitt said he wanted business owners to have the option of another tree or no tree.
Deaton said she disagreed with him.
Deaton moved to adopt the resolution for the project. That vote was 4-1.
Deaton then moved to authorize $115,000 for the project. That vote was unanimous in favor of the funding.